Articles By David Fox
What did Shawn Oakman ever do to the NCAA?
The NCAA Football Rules Committee last week approved rules banning “crop tops” and “non-standard/overbuilt facemasks.” Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman in a few games last season had both.
A player wearing a crop top tucks the bottom of the jersey into his pads, exposing the stomach. The overbuilt facemasks refer to those with four or five bars across and/or several diagonal bars across the front of the facemask.
Players with a crop top will cost their teams a timeout when they leave the game to fix their jerseys.
The NFL banned the same facemasks last season.
In other words, say goodbye to Ezekiel Elliott’s belly button and DeForest Buckner’s Bane look.
This is not allowed...
This is also not allowed.
If there’s a way to make a positive out of an awful situation, University of Oklahoma athletics is doing the work.
The Oklahoma campus was rocked Sunday evening and Monday when a video of fraternity members chanting racial slurs surfaced. The university severed all ties and affiliations with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter and closed the fraternity house on campus.
Football and basketball players, joined by coaches Bob Stoops and Lon Kruger, demonstrated outside of the athletic facility this morning
“It’s something that should concern everyone,” Kruger told Guerin Emig of the Tulsa World. “It’s not just athletics.”
While the condemnation of such nakedly racist behavior should be expected rather than applauded, let’s give credit to the Sooners for this peaceful show of solidarity. Emotions easily could have spilled over — and to a degree they did in this profane Snapchat from linebacker Eric Striker.
Striker eventually apologized for the outburst via teammate Charles Tapper.
Eric Striker meant no harm by the snap chat.. He was angry and spoke off emotions and he is sorry for the cussing. pic.twitter.com/iKKuiz6lFt— Charles Tapper (@Takeflightchuck) March 9, 2015
Striker joined his teammates for a silent march from the practice facility on campus. Oklahoma athletics posted a video of the protest today on its official web site.
#Sooners stood together, recited Lord's Prayer together, walked out of indoor facility together. That was today's practice.— Guerin Emig (@GuerinEmig) March 9, 2015
I am incredibly proud of how we have come together in a time of crisis to promote real change & encourage solidarity as OU student athletes!— Ty Darlington (@TyDarlington56) March 9, 2015
Extremely proud of our guys right now for the way WE have handled this issue! I love this university and I love this team! #WeAreOne— Trevor Knight (@trevor_knight9) March 9, 2015
The repercussions of this incident are unclear, but at least one recruit announced he would de-commit from Oklahoma. Mesquite (Texas) North Mesquite offensive tackle Jean Delance announced he’d re-open his recruitment.
To all recruits do not take this wrong.. This is not a majority.. Meaning the majority if OU frats and Fans are not like that!! They are— Charles Tapper (@Takeflightchuck) March 9, 2015
This college basketball season has been one of mixed emotions.
We’ve celebrated the careers of legends Dean Smith and Jerry Tarkanian while mourning their passing. We watched Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Philadelphia’s Herb Magee celebrate their 1,000th win. We’ve watched day-in and day-out greatness at Kentucky.
Yet we’ve also watched another Hall of Fame coach see his legacy tainted and the future of the program thrown into doubt due to NCAA violations, and Jim Boeheim wasn’t alone in dealing with off-court issues when programs should be gearing up for postseason.
Amid all of this, March Madness and the unpredictability of tournament season is here. Remember, at this point last season, Connecticut was on no one’s radar as a national championship contender. Neither was Kentucky. A series of upsets, though, led us to UConn winning a national title. Madness, indeed.
For any fan just getting into college basketball in time for championship week and office pools: What took you so long?
You have some catching up to do. By waiting until the final weeks, you’ve missed a historic season. Every season is historic for one reason or another, so maybe this season will be among the most memorable even before the NCAA Tournament.
You may need to catch up a bit, but that’s what you’ll learn here.
Kentucky is going for perfection
College basketball hasn’t had a story like this since — when, exactly? Kevin Durant vs. Greg Oden in the first year of one-and-done in 2007? The Christian Laettner Duke years? This is the No. 1 story in college basketball as Kentucky tries to match Indiana’s undefeated national championship team in 1975-76. Only five teams since have entered their league tournament undefeated, and only 1991 UNLV could claim to be as divisive. No fan base is more invested than Kentucky’s, and John Calipari may be the only coach to match Mike Krzyzewski as a love-him or hate-him figure in the sport. One way or another, Kentucky will make history in this Tournament — either by becoming the first team to go 40–0 or being on the wrong end of a monumental upset.
The Player of the Year race may go down to the wire
Maybe it’s for the best that the race for the Wooden or Naismith awards doesn’t get the same hype as the Heisman Trophy. A year after the Player of the Year award was a season-long coronation for Creighton’s Doug McDermott, the sport has a legitimate two-player race between Duke’s Jahlil Okafor and Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky. Both play center for national championship contenders, but they don’t fit the same profile. Okafor, who does his best work around the basket, has been a contender for the No. 1 overall draft pick since he was in high school. Kaminsky, who is more of a threat from the perimeter, was a virtual unknown two years ago. This will be the most heated Player of the Year race since Duke’s J.J. Redick and Gonzaga’s Adam Morrison shared the award in 2005-06.
A Final Four drought could end out West
The two best coaches who have never reached the Final Four both reside out West, and both may have their best chance to reach the final weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Gonzaga’s Mark Few has a 30-win team that may be better than his Bulldogs team that was a No. 1 seed in 2013 or the team with Adam Morrison in 2006. Meanwhile, Sean Miller’s Arizona team recent wrapped up another Pac-12 championship and will enter postseason with one of the best rosters in the nation. Miller has been to the Elite Eight three times in his career, once with Xavier and twice with Arizona.
Mike Krzyzewski reached 1,000 wins and should keep adding more
Earlier this season, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski became the first Division I coach to reach the 1,000-win mark, and he has a team that should be able to build upon that total in the NCAA Tournament. He has Okafor anchoring the center spot, but his backcourt of freshman Tyus Jones and senior Quinn Cook may be the most clutch duo in the country. Depth and defense remain an issue for the Blue Devils, so there’s hope for the Duke haters who enjoyed the Devils’ recent Round of 64 losses to Mercer (2014) and Lehigh (2012).
Tony Bennett is college basketball’s newest miracle worker
Virginia hasn’t been this good since Ralph Sampson played for the Cavaliers, but what’s most remarkable is that the Cavs aren’t doing it with a ton of stars or flash. Virginia has won back-to-back ACC regular-season titles and enters conference tournament season with just two losses. Coach Tony Bennett has done this without a five-star prospect or a McDonald’s All-American and without his top player, Justin Anderson, for the final eight games of the regular season. The style isn’t for everyone — Virginia ranks 349th of 351 team in terms of tempo — but it is effective.
Villanova is the best team no one is talking about
Villanova has only lost two games yet is flying under the national radar — a bit puzzling for a program that has won a national championship, been to a Final Four in recent years and has a star coach on the bench. The reason? Maybe it’s because the Big East doesn’t get much exposure from ESPN since most its games are on FOX Sports 1. Or possibly because Villanova lost last season as No. 2 seed in the Round of 32. Whatever the reason, don’t hold it against this year’s Villanova team. The Wildcats are in the top 20 in both offensive and defensive efficiency, a trademark of teams that go on to win the national title.
The Hall of Fame announcement will actually be interesting
Speaking of Bo Ryan... the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame probably isn’t something even the most ardent fans spend time pondering, especially during the week of the Final Four. This season, though, the announcement may carry more weight than usual. Active coaches John Calipari and Bo Ryan are on the ballot this year. The announcement of new inductees will be made April 6, the same day as the national championship game. Will one or both be involved?
Off-court issues threaten to mar a great tournament
Speaking of Hall of Famers, this has not been a good year for Hall of Fame coaches. Krzyzewski dismissed a player who was later revealed to be facing sexual assault allegations. Syracuse banned itself from the postseason months before the NCAA hammered the Orange and coach Jim Boeheim for a wide range of violations. North Carolina coach Roy Williams has an athletic department embroiled in an ongoing academic scandal that seems to get worse every passing week. SMU coach Larry Brown hasn’t had his best player eligible all season. Kansas’ most highly touted freshman and pro prospect might not play again this season while the NCAA investigates possible contact between his family and an agent. Why don’t we all get back to basketball for a bit.
You’re going to get annoyed at officials
The NCAA Tournament is the crown jewel of the college basketball season and the only college athletics event that comes close to rivaling football. If that’s the case, then why is the product sometimes so crummy? If you’re just checking in with the sport, be prepared: Officiating is inconsistent, defensive players are allowed too much contact and the end of games take for-ev-er due to too many team and official timeouts. This, unfortunately, is the norm.
Power teams will be at home
Hope you didn’t expect to tune in to watch Syracuse, UConn, Memphis and Florida in this field. They’re home. Sorry. UCLA and Texas are also flirting with the NIT.
Big names will be back
In the place of those powerhouses, you should be able to welcome back Larry Brown, who hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 1988. Brown’s SMU team was snubbed last season, and now the Mustangs are ready to be in the field for the first time since 1993. Other powers due to be back from long absences: Purdue (2012), Maryland (2010), Utah (2009) and Arkansas (2008).
If Kentucky and Duke meet in the Final Four or the national championship game this season, the matchup will be between a pair of coaches who have met only twice in their illustrious careers and never in the postseason.
It will also be between the top two coaches in the game today, according to an Athlon Sports expert poll.
In the last three weeks, Athlon Sports surveyed 26 college basketball experts in the media for a range of topics in the sport. In our first question, we asked simply “who are the top three coaches in the game today.” We did not ask our respondents to rank their coaches (though some did). Each coach named counts as one point in our results. The answers are...
Athlon Sports College Basketball Expert Poll
Question 1: Who are the top three coaches in the game today?
|1||Mark Few (Gonzaga), Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State), Jim Larranaga (Miami), Bob McKillop (Davidson), Sean Miller (Arizona), Shaka Smart (VCU), Roy Williams (North Carolina)|
• The top two in our poll were overwhelming. Krzyzewski appeared on 23 of 26 ballots, and Calipari appeared on 20 of 26. Not that those two would be bad choices in any year, but we wonder if there might be a bit of recency bias in the response. (And since we said “in the game today,” that makes perfect sense). These top two coaches have been at the top of people’s minds this season in particular with Krzyzewski crossing the 1,000-win mark and Calipari leading an undefeated team.
• Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan is a logical coach on anyone’s ballot this season, but consider where he would have been before last year’s Final Four. Ryan has gone from the most underrated coach in the country to royalty in the sport.
• It’s worth nothing both Calipari and Ryan are finalists for the Naismith Hall of Fame this season.
• Florida’s Billy Donovan received only two votes. Hard to believe we’d get the same response this time last year. He was ESPN’s No. 1 coach before the season and Athlon’s No. 4. It’s been a rough year in Gainesville.
• Give our panel credit for mentions of Davidson’s Bob McKillop and Miami’s Jim Larranaga.
• A few notable names that didn’t appear on anyone’s ballot: Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Michigan’s John Beilein and Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall. Boeheim and Beilein make sense as neither of their teams are going to play in the NCAA Tournament. Marshall is a curious absence considering McKillop, Larranaga and VCU’s Shaka Smart all received at least one vote.
More than two dozen college basketball experts from throughout college basketball media participated in the Athlon Sports survey conducted in late February and early March this year.
All were notified their individual responses to our six questions would not be revealed on AthlonSports.com, but they were free to post their responses to their own sites, on their broadcasts or to their social media outlets.
The panel was comprised of:
Rick Bozich, WDRB Louisville
Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News
Chris Dortch, Blue Ribbon
Wes Durham, ACC Network/Fox Sports Network
Ryan Fagan, Sporting News
John Feinstein, Washington Post/NBC Sports
Pat Forde, Yahoo! Sports
John Gasaway, ESPN
Scott Gleeson, USA Today
Jeff Goodman, ESPN
Seth Greenberg, ESPN
Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times
Raphielle Johnson, College Basketball Talk
Blair Kerkhoff, Kansas City Star
Will Leitch, Sports on Earth
Mike Lopresti, NCAA.com
Troy Machir, Sporting News
Matt Norlander, CBSSports.com
Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com
Brendan Prunty, SI.com
Joe Rexrode, Detroit Free Press
Lindsay Schnell, SI.com
David Teel, Virginia Daily Press
Jerry Tipton, Lexington (Ky.) Herald Leader
Dick “Hoops” Weiss, Blue Star Media
Luke Winn, SI.com
New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is a Twitter superstar. That much has been established.
Now, we’ll find out if he can judge a guy should try to turn a single into a double.
Harbaugh arrived at Oakland Athletics spring training in Mesa, Ariz., on Saturday — in uniform — to coach first base for a game against the Los Angeles Angels.
Harbaugh and A’s manager Bob Melvin are friends from Harbaugh’s days in San Francisco.
The best part of the whole thing? The tall stirrups.
Jim Harbaugh old style socks (stirrups). YESSS! pic.twitter.com/8JNxUL624a— Steve Vucinich (@stevevuc) March 7, 2015
Jim Harbaugh specifically requested the high socks. And his old No. 4. pic.twitter.com/1fkpTa41EU— Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) March 7, 2015
Syracuse basketball will never be the same.
The NCAA committee on infractions hammered Syracuse on Friday, suspending coach Jim Boeheim for nine ACC games next season and restricting scholarships for widespread violations regarding academics and extra benefits.
For certain, the tarnish that comes with this sort of penalty will put Boeheim’s legacy into question. The man who built the program won’t join his friend Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000-win club, at least according to the official record books. He might not get back to 900.
Feel free to disregard the vacated wins on Boeheim’s ledger — the NCAA could take away up to 135 of them. The past is the past no matter how the NCAA requires Syracuse to remember it.
Instead, the future of Syracuse basketball is more cloudy than ever.
More than the vacated wins, the suspension of Boeheim or the financial penalties, Syracuse will feel the most pain from harsh scholarship limitations combined with the inevitable retirement of its Hall of Fame coach.
On Friday, the NCAA announced it will dock the Orange 12 scholarships over the course of four seasons. Syracuse will be on probation until 2020. The Orange will lose a quarter of its roster to the scholarship limit provided Syracuse doesn’t get any back on appeal.
If the Orange begin to serve the penalty in 2016-17 — so it does not need to run off players already committed — the program won’t be back to a full scholarship allotment until 2020-21.
And there lies the second peg in what could be a disastrous sanction for Syracuse basketball. At the start of the 2020-21 basketball season, Boeheim will be 76 years old.
Who will be in charge Syracuse basketball at that point is anyone’s guess. Boeheim is stubborn, but is he stubborn enough to coach Syracuse into his late 70s?
If Boeheim retires before the end of the sanctions, who will be in charge? Longtime assistant Mike Hopkins was named Boeheim’s eventual successor in 2007 with no timetable of when he’d take over for his mentor.
If Hopkins, who was not named in the NCAA report, can start elsewhere without an NCAA sanctions, few could blame the up-and-coming coach for giving his head coaching career a better start.
A scandal of this magnitude — one that also involves the football program — is also not a good harbinger for an athletic director.
Syracuse will face the twilight of Boeheim’s career with only three-quarters of a roster for four seasons. Replacing a legend is tough enough as it is. This will only make the change more clumsy when the time inevitably comes.
When Connecticut faced NCAA sanctions at the end of Jim Calhoun’s tenure, the Huskies lost one postseason and three total scholarships in three seasons. There was still enough left for Calhoun’s handpicked successor Kevin Ollie to lead the Huskies to the 2014 national title.
After the Clem Haskins scandal at Minnesota in the late ‘90s, the Gophers lost 12 scholarships over the course of four seasons and have won only one NCAA Tournament game in four trips since.
Granted, Syracuse basketball and Minnesota basketball can’t be mentioned in the same sentence, but the future is no less cloudy.
For the next four or five years, Syracuse basketball is looking at the possibility of a new coach, a shorthanded roster and a brutal ACC schedule.
When Boeheim arrived at Syracuse as a player in 1962, the Orange went 8-13 when he was a freshman. Syracuse went nearly two decades between 20-win seasons.
Syracuse won’t be in those depths when Boeheim departs. But the national title contender that usually occupies the Carrier Dome? That program’s future is more questionable than ever.
What does the trophy case look like for one of the most accomplished college football players of the last few years?
Digital journalists Matt Walks and Carli Krueger visualized such a trophy case for former Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who won a Heisman trophy, two Pac-12 titles and more in his three seasons as a starter.
“He’s bound for the NFL now, but Carli and I wanted to pay him a farewell tribute by imagining what his theoretical trophy case might look like,” Walks writes. “One of us graduated from Oregon and the other lives there, so even though he’s gone, we’re not about to forget Mariota’s legacy or accomplishments.”
The trophy case is pretty impressive. Walks breaks down each award in the case here.
So much for the “Year of Readiness.”
As major conference commissioners float the idea of ending freshman eligibility — an idea deemed obsolete in the 1970s — freshmen are continuing to dominate the college basketball scene.
Kentucky, the national championship favorite, is filled with impact freshmen, as usual. And one of the two players in serious contention for National Player of the Year, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, is also a freshman.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany spoke of this new push for freshman ineligibility as a “year of readiness.”
As far as we’re concerned, these freshmen — whether they were one-and-done or completed their four years of eligibility — were plenty ready from the moment they stepped on campus.
1. Anthony Davis, Kentucky 2011-12
Stats: 14.1 points, 9.8 rebounds
His case for top freshman: John Calipari is known for his work with great freshman point guards, but the best player he coached in college may be a forward. Carmelo Anthony was an NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, Durant was the consensus Player of the Year, Derrick Rose was the No. 1 overall draft pick, and Greg Oden was the National Defensive Player of the Year. Davis did all of that. Before Davis, the last player of the year, Tournament MVP and No. 1 draft pick was Kansas’ Danny Manning in 1988 — when he was senior.
2. Kevin Durant, Texas 2006-07
Stats: 25.8 points, 11.1 rebounds
His case for top freshman: In the first season impacted by the NBA’s rule to require draftees to be a year removed from high school, Durant showed what a new breed of precocious freshmen could do in college. In his only college season, Durant was the only player in the country to finish in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding — he finished fourth in both. Despite Durant’s prolific season, his play didn’t translate to postseason success. Texas lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to USC, led by another freshman, O.J. Mayo.
3. Carmelo Anthony, Syracuse 2002-03
Stats: 22.2 points, 10 rebounds
His case for top freshman: Some freshman-led teams have come close, but Anthony became the first rookie since Pervis Ellison in 1986 (Louisville) to lead his team to a national title. Anthony was a second-team All-American in his only college season, but none were better in the NCAA Tournament. Anthony was the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player, helping Jim Boeheim to his first national championship. In the final against Kansas, Anthony scored 20 points with 10 rebounds and seven assists. A game earlier in the national semifinal against Texas, Anthony had 33 points and 14 rebounds.
4. Chris Jackson, LSU 1988-89
Stats: 30.2 points, 2.5 rebounds
His case for top freshman: Jackson, who later changed his name to Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, turned in one of the all-time best freshman seasons nearly two decades before it became commonplace for first-year players to rewrite record books. Jackson averaged 30.2 points per game, which remains a Division I freshman record.
5. Jahlil Okafor, Duke 2014-15
Stats: 18.2 points, 9.6 rebounds
His case for top freshman: Okafor, another Chicago native, has a chance to pull off a similar season as Davis, and he’s in a two-man race for National Player of the Year with Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky. He’s a contender to be the top player taken in the NBA Draft. As for the national championship, Okafor may have to go through Kentucky to win it. Even if none of that happens, Okafor remains the best post player in the college game in years.
6. Wayman Tisdale, Oklahoma 1982-83
Stats: 24.5 points, 10.3 rebounds
His case for top freshman: Tisdale was the forefather to the great freshmen of the 2000s. It’s fitting, then, that his name is on the National Freshman of the Year award. In 1983, Tisdale was the first freshman to be a first-team All-American while also earning Big Eight Player of the Year honors. He accomplished both feats again as a sophomore and a junior.
7. Kevin Love, UCLA 2007-08
Stats: 17.5 points, 10.6 rebounds
His case for top freshman: During better times for Ben Howland at UCLA, the coach relied primarily on veterans. Love was the exception during the Bruins’ run of Final Fours. Love led UCLA in scoring and rebounding in the Bruins’ last of three consecutive appearances in the national semifinal. He also finished the season with 23 double-doubles; Michael Beasley is the only other freshman to amass more. Love was a consensus All-American and the Pac-10 Player of the Year, one of only two freshmen to earn the honor.
8. Michael Beasley, Kansas State 2007-08
Stats: 26.2 points, 12.4 rebounds
His case for top freshman: A year after Durant lit up the Big 12, Beasley did the same a year later. Beasley set a Big 12 single-season record by averaging 26.2 points per game, breaking Durant’s record of 25.8. Beasley finished with 13 30-point games, the most for any Big 12 player in a season (Durant had 11). Beasley’s 28 double-doubles also set a national freshman record. Like Durant and Texas, Beasley and Kansas State failed to get out of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, losing to Wisconsin in the second round.
9. Patrick Ewing, Georgetown 1981-82
Stats: 12.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 blocks
His case for top freshman: Ewing’s arrival turned Georgetown into a power program and the Big East into a power league. Ewing blocked 119 shots as a freshman, leading the Hoyas to 30 wins and the first Final Four of the John Thompson era.
10. Magic Johnson, Michigan State 1977-78
Stats: 17 points, 7.9 rebounds, 7.4 assists
His case for top freshman: The statline, of course, is ridiculous as Magic averaged 17-8-7 for a team that reached the Sweet 16. It was only the beginning.
11. Kenny Anderson, Georgia Tech 1989-90
Stats: 20.7 points, 8.1 assists, 5.4 rebounds
His case for top freshman: Anderson was one of three 20-point scorers on a team that reached the Final Four. Oh, and he threw in 277 assists, too.
12. Jared Sullinger, Ohio State 2010-11
Stats: 17.2 points, 10.2 rebounds
His case for top freshman: Ohio State has had more success with star freshmen in recent years than any other Big Ten team. Sullinger may have been the best of a group that includes Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. Unlike Oden, Conley and big men B.J. Mullens and Kosta Koufos, Sullinger elected to stay for his sophomore season. As a freshman, Sullinger was a consensus All-American and the Big Ten’s first National Freshman of the Year since Michigan’s Chris Webber in 1992.
13. Derrick Rose, Memphis 2007-08
Stats: 14.9 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds
His case for top freshman: Hard to believe as it is, Rose wasn’t the most decorated player on his own team as a freshman. That distinction went to All-American and Conference USA Player of the Year Chris Douglas-Roberts. Rose belongs on this list, though, as the point guard of a team that played for a national title before falling 75-68 in overtime to Kansas. Rose averaged 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game in the NCAA Tournament.
14. Jabari Parker, Duke 2013-14
Stats: 19.1 points, 8.7 rebounds
His case for top freshman: An all-time team of freshmen from Chicago would be mighty scary between Davis, Rose, Okafor and Parker. Unfortunately for Parker, the big takeaway from his lone season in Durham may be Duke’s loss to No. 14 seed Mercer in the round of 64. Parker, though, was the freshman of the year and runner-up to Creighton's Doug McDermott for National Player of the Year.
15. John Wall, Kentucky 2009-10
Stats: 16.6 points, 6.5 assists, 4.3 rebounds
His case for top freshman: John Calipari started at Kentucky the same way he finished his time at Memphis – with an elite one-and-done point guard. Wall followed in the footsteps of Rose and Tyreke Evans at Memphis and preceded Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague at Kentucky. In leading Kentucky to a 35-3 season, Wall was the National Freshman of the Year and the Associated Press and coaches’ pick for SEC Player of the Year (Oddly enough, teammate DeMarcus Cousins was the coaches’ pick for SEC Freshman of the Year).
16. Greg Oden, Ohio State 2006-07
Stats: 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds
His case for top freshman: For at least a year, Oden vs. Durant was a heated debate. Durant was the consensus Player of the Year, but Oden and fellow freshman Mike Conley Jr. helped Ohio State reach the national championship game. Oden ended up going first in the NBA Draft, but it was the last time he’d have the edge over Durant, who became an NBA superstar while Oden’s pro career has been derailed by injuries. As a college player, Oden holds the distinction of being the only freshman to win National Defensive Player of the Year honors by averaging 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game.
17. Pervis Ellison, Louisville 1985-86
Stats: 12.6 points, 7.8 rebounds
His case for top freshman: Never Nervous Pervis was Louisville’s third leading scorer as a freshman, but he made his impact in the NCAA Tournament. Ellison was the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player in 1986, the first time a rookie earned the award since freshman eligibility was re-established.
18. Shaquille O’Neal, LSU 1989-90
Stats: 13.9 points, 12 rebounds, 3.6 blocks
His case for top freshman: Naturally, Shaq knew how to make an entrance. O’Neal was the first player in SEC history to record 100 blocks in a season at 115 as a freshman. That total remains 10th in SEC history, behind two of his own totals as a sophomore and junior. O’Neal also finished in the top 10 nationally in rebounding as a rookie.
19. Tyler Hansbrough, North Carolina 2005-06
Stats: 18.9 points, 7.8 rebounds
His case for top freshman: It’s easy to forget that Hansbrough’s first season brought no guarantees. Credit his overshadowed freshman season to the way his career finished with a national title and National Player of the Year honors. When Hansbrough was a freshman, he led a team that lost most of its top players from the 2005 national champions. An unranked team in the preseason finished No. 10 in the rankings.
20. Brandon Knight, Kentucky 2010-11
Stats: 17.3 points, 4.1 assists
His case for top freshman: Knight wasn’t Calipari’s best point guard, and the 2010-11 team wasn’t one of his best at Kentucky. Yet the 2011 Cats were his first in Lexington to reach the Final Four before losing to the Kemba Walker-led UConn buzz saw.
College football season has been over for 52 days. A long, cold 52 days.
Thankfully, Ohio State is giving us the warm fuzzies as we all try to climb out of winter and into spring.
The national champion Buckeyes released their national championship hype video Thursday, and hit the spot.
Give it a look. It’s awesome.
(at least until Coldplay starts playing.)
Every team that makes a run in the NCAA Tournament needs a role player to become the hero for a game or two.
For 2014 national champion Connecticut, it was DeAndre Daniels. The forward was a solid player entering the tournament, but he exploded for 27 points in the Sweet 16 against Iowa State and then 20 in the Final Four against Florida?
And who could have expected that lightly used Marcus Lee would have stepped in for 10 points and seven offensive rebounds to send Kentucky to the Final Four.
Pinpointing the kinds of unlikely heroes is tough — especially in the case of a guy like Lee — but we might as well give it a try.
Trey Lyles, Kentucky
Lyles might not sneak up on anyone since he was a McDonald’s All-American and John Calipari touted him as Kentucky’s X-factor. Yet he’s still been easy to overlook for most of this season with the way Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns have played in Kentucky’s frontcourt. Lyles, though, is plenty capable of taking charge, scoring 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting Saturday against Arkansas.
Darion Atkins, Virginia
Atkins lost his starting job last season and regained it for good early in the ACC schedule. Atkins is already a key post defender for the Cavaliers, but with Justin Anderson out, he’s also been able contribute more on the offensive end in recent games. He’s scored at least 10 points in three of the last four games after scoring in double figures just twice before Feb. 22.
Gabe York, Arizona
Arizona’s stars haven’t always played like stars at times this season. Thankfully for the Wildcats, York has been there to save the day off the bench. He scored 13 points in 28 minutes against UCLA on Feb. 21 and added 12 in the grinder against Utah on Saturday night. This is the second time York has been something of a secret weapon for Zona. He moved into the starting lineup after the Brandon Ashley injury last season.
Kris Jenkins, Villanova
Villanova is already one of the more balanced scoring teams in the field. The seventh-leading scorer acting as an X-factor is icing on the cake. Jenkins is an outside shooter by trade, hitting four 3s in the comeback against Xavier on Saturday, but he was also able to get to the free throw line nine times a game earlier against Providence.
Matt Jones, Duke
Duke’s stars — Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Quinn Cook and Justise Winslow — are playing like stars. Matt Jones has provided key depth, especially since Rasheed Sulaimon was dismissed. Jones is averaging 7.9 points per game in nine games since Sulaimon was booted.
Dallin Bachynski, Utah
A senior seven-footer is a nice asset to have on the bench. Larry Krysktkowiak has gone to that well judiciously — Bachynski played scored 13 points on 12 shots in 23 minutes in a key win over Stanford on Feb. 12 and eight points in 25 minutes against Arizona, but he played 14 minutes in a three-game span in February. A team whose main weakness is offensive rebounding could use his size in March.
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
Just what Notre Dame needs — another guard who can score. The 6-5 Colson has come on in recent weeks, but none better than his 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting and nine rebounds against Louisville on Tuesday. Before that Colson had 16 points against both Boston College and Syracuse in Notre Dame’s previous two games. The freshman’s fearless streak earned him a defensive assignment against Duke’s Okafor a few weeks ago.
Jared Nickens, Maryland
The 6-foot-7, 200-pound freshman forward has been able to contribute in a number of ways for the surprising Terrapins. He stepped into the starting lineup for six games earlier this season when Mark Turgeon was tinkering with his lineup. Coming off the bench, Nickens is a 3-point threat who can also grab rebounds.
Allerik Freeman, Baylor
Freeman gives Baylor a quick offensive threat off the bench, which Baylor needs especially around the rim. Freeman gave Baylor 11 points in 21 minutes in a win over Kansas State on Feb. 21 and 10 points and four offensive rebounds in 27 minutes against West Virginia on Saturday. He shoots better than 50 percent from 2-point range on a team that otherwise shoots 45.3 percent.
Jamari Traylor, Kansas
Traylor’s role has expanded in recent weeks, first as Cliff Alexander’s playing time dwindled and then more after Alexander was pulled off the floor due to potential NCAA eligibility reasons. Traylor was huge in Tuesday’s comeback against West Virginia. With Perry Ellis out during the second half and Kelly Oubre fouled out, Traylor had 14 points and six offensive boards.
Joel Berry, North Carolina
Could Joel Berry become the 3-point threat North Carolina desperately needs? Berry hit 3-of-5 3-pointers against Georgia Tech on Thursday. Sure, it was against a bad Yellow Jackets team, but still a key development for a team looking for perimeter scorers apart from Marcus Paige.
Wayne Blackshear, Louisville
Blackshear responded to fouling out with no points against Syracuse by scoring 10 against Miami, 10 against Georgia Tech and 18 against Florida State. Louisville needs more of that from its senior guard with Chris Jones off the team.
Let’s face it: College football coaches’ Twitter accounts are mostly hit or miss.
Most are full of inspirational quotes, coded recruiting announcements and a general excitement to “get after it.”
Thankfully, Jim Harbaugh has returned to college football to spice up social media.
Here are some of the highlights just from the last month.
Prince is pretty much the coolest dude on the planet. Seriously, even cool people bow to the coolness that is Prince.
Before Purple Rain, before Sign “O” the Times, before changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol, Prince Rogers Nelson was a sometimes disgruntled high school basketball player in his hometown of Minneapolis.
Libor Jany, a crime and justice writer with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, tweeted these two great clips from the Star-Tribune archives from Prince’s playing days at Bryant Junior High and Minneapolis Central High.
Another Prince-related clip from the Strib archives, looking back at his hooping days at Bryant Junior High. pic.twitter.com/LrIQZ3LhSg— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 3, 2015
Jany also shared this gem where a young (and short) Prince was not pleased with his playing time.
From the Strib archives: Chappelle was right. pic.twitter.com/icXBFGWkij— Libor Jany (@StribJany) March 3, 2015
Every team has a weakness. Even Kentucky.
Winning and losing in the NCAA Tournament is almost always about the matchups. A bad draw or a little bad luck in the first weekend of the Tournament can turn a potential championship season into a disappointment. The key for upset-hungry teams in March will be their ability to pounce when the time is right.
The teams that will be among the favorites to advance to Final Four have earned that status by being balanced, sound teams on both side of the court. Only one of them can be a champion, though.
Here’s how things could unravel for some of the nation’s top teams.
Fatal flaw: A backcourt collapse
The nation’s only undefeated team and undisputed No. 1 has so few flaws, it’s tough to pick out the weak spots that could doom a run to the Final Four. An opponent getting ridiculously hot from 3 would seem to be a must to beat Kentucky, but how could the Wildcats beat themselves? The guards might do it. Point guard Andrew Harrison has had his lapses at times, though’s also had his share of standout games this season. The offense has run better for stretches this season with Tyler Ulis at the point, but will Calipari put his team into the hands of a 5-9 freshman in the Tournament? Kentucky’s 3-point shooting (160th nationally at 34.3 percent) and free throw shooting (100th at 71 percent) is also the only other non-elite part of the Wildcats’ game.
Fatal flaw: Closing out wins
For the time being, the Cavaliers have overcome this flaw, preserving wins over Pittsburgh, Florida State, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech with ease. But there was a stretch in late January and early February where lopsided games early in the second half became more dramatic in the final seconds. This is how Virginia lost its only game of the season to Duke on Jan. 31, but even Wake Forest in Charlottesville and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg made the Cavs work to preserve a lead.
Fatal flaw: Defending attacking guards
The diminished depth is a major concern, though it will be less so when benches shrink in the NCAA Tournament. Instead, the biggest problem for Duke has to be problems defending guards. Notre Dame’s Jerian Grant shredded Duke’s guards earlier this season. So did Miami’s duo of Angel Rodriguez and Manu Lecomte. Virginia Tech took Duke to overtime a week ago thanks to its guards getting to the rim. Duke was a bad defensive team a year ago and got burned by Mercer in the Tournament. Could history repeat itself?
Fatal flaw: Rebounding
Villanova isn’t necessarily an undersized team — particularly by Villanova standards — but the Wildcats aren’t a big team, either. The 6-foot-11 Daniel Ochefu is the only regular taller than 6-7. He averages 8.3 boards per game. Every regular is 6-2 or taller and top guard Darrun Hilliard is 6-6. Yet Villanova ranks 115th in offensive rebound rate and 160th in defensive rebound rate on KenPom.com.
Fatal flaw: Scoring from its stars
Arizona won’t play many games tougher than the Wildcats’ win in Salt Lake City on Saturday night. Utah’s a great defensive team, but Arizona should still wonder if it can score enough to make it to the Final Four. Freshman Stanley Johnson went 3-of-19 from the field, which would be a footnote if not for Arizona’s struggles a week ago against UCLA. In that game, Gabe York and Dusan Ristic came off the bench to bail out the starters in a 57-47 win over the Bruins.
Fatal flaw: Frontcourt depth
Good thing Frank Kaminsky never gets into foul trouble. Wisconsin has proven that it can keep winning even without its starting point guard, but surviving any absence of Kaminsky would seem to be slim. Kaminsky is the only player on the roster taller than 6-9. That said, Kaminsky foul trouble is a true rarity. He hasn’t played with more than three fouls in a game all season.
Fatal flaw: Free throw shooting
Gonzaga has one of the most balanced and efficient offenses in the country, making it all that more baffling that the Bulldogs can’t hit free throws. Gonzaga is converting only 69.8 percent of free throws this season, raking 150th nationally.
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?
The next sponsor of a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, that’s who.
Brace yourself. This is not a joke. The NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway on May 9 will be dubbed the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 as part of Nickelodeon’s sponsorship.
It’s true. This is a press release.
The race, to be broadcast on Fox Sports 1, will feature “a weekend of Bikini-Bottom-themed activities and un for the entire family.”
Wonder if they’ll serve Krabby Patties.
Also worth noting the president of Kansas Speedway is named Patrick. Again, no joke.
“I’m excited to partner with Nickelodeon for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 on May 9,” said Patrick Warren, Kansas Speedway President. “This is a great opportunity for us to engage SpongeBob fans of all ages to racing with a great partner.”
This is the logo for the SpongeBob SquarePants 400 (Kansas NASCAR race): pic.twitter.com/A0myZpJI2G— Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) March 2, 2015
The weather may have you stuck inside the house or summer sports just don’t do it for you. Either way, you’re grasping at some kind of sports programming in these difficult times.
Maybe it’s time to fire up Netflix and see what you can find. Let us be your guide, sports fan. There may be something you’ve missed on America’s favorite streaming service. Trust us, there’s a lot.
The Athlon staff has compiled its favorite sports programming on Netflix — films, documentaries and television series — right here. Luckily all of ESPN’s 30 for 30 programming, not to mention SEC Storied, ESPN Films and Soccer Stories are all available. If you notice that our list is a little 30 for 30-centric that’s because... a) those documentaries are very good and... b) they make up the overwhelming majority of the sports content on Netflix right now.
Feel free to bookmark this page or check back. We’ll do our best to keep up with the monthly changes.
1. Hoop Dreams (1994)
Hoop Dreams one of the greatest sports documentaries of all time — or simply one of the greatest documentaries period. Steve James follows two African-American teenagers in Chicago, William Gates and Arthur Agee, as they try to pursue the NBA from a young age. The film is more than 20 years old (and the footage more than 25), but the themes are all too universal — issues of race, poverty, the education system and precocious kids expected to shoulder the load for an entire family. “People ask me will I remember them if I make it,” Gates says. “I tell them, will you remember me if I don’t.”
2. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Perhaps Jerry Maguire became too quotable for its own good — “show me the money!” and “you had me at hello” — but it’s the perfect crowd-pleaser. A movie about a sports agent just barely fits into the sports movie category but it has enough drama and sports to fit outside of the romantic comedy box. Jerry Maguire is full of sports cameos, and like any Cameron Crowe film, it has a perfect soundtrack. Jerry Maguire took home a best supporting actor nod (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and was nominated for best actor (Tom Cruise) and best picture.
3. The Two Escobars (2010)
Arguably the top installment of ESPN’s acclaimed 30 for 30 series, The Two Escobars is bigger than a sports documentary and portrays a level of politics and organized crime more dramatic than any fiction. The film traces the intertwined stories of drug lord Pablo Escobar, a passionate supporter of Colombian soccer, and defender Andres Escobar, whose own goal cost the country the 1994 World Cup.
4. Friday Night Lights (2006-11)
Genre: TV drama
The low-rated but beloved television series has little in common with the classic Buzz Bissinger book and the movie aside from the title, the West Texas setting and Connie Britton. The on-field action is quality, and the off-field drama is heavy. Just power through that subpar second season, y’all. Trust us.
5. Rudy (1993)
People either love or hate Notre Dame, and the Hollywood version of Daniel Ruettiger’s story may take a few liberties here and there. Still, Rudy is a classic sports movie, the underdog story of the walk-on too small to play college football. But the film doesn’t have to be totally true to life for us to get misty eyed near the end.
6. Without Bias (2009)
Basketball fans of a certain generation vividly remember the when the learned of the death of Len Bias, the Maryland basketball star who died in 1986 after a cocaine-induced heart attack. As college players, Bias was mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan. Bias' death, brought about by casual drug use, shook the sports world.
7. You Don’t Know Bo (2012)
Bo Jackson holds no major professional sports records. His trophy case includes “only” a Heisman Trophy and an MLB All-Star MVP award. Yet he was one of the most spellbinding athletes of a generation. This doc, one of the best installments in the second run of 30 for 30s, explains why he came around at the perfect time — just at the start of the modern sports marketing, highlight and video game age and just before the cynicism of the steroid era took over.
8. The Best that Never Was (2010)
Before Rivals.com, before five-star recruits, before 24-hour coverage of National Signing Day and before televised commitment announcements, there was Marcus Dupree. In 1981, Marcus Dupree of Philadelphia, Miss., was one of the most coveted recruits of the era. The high point of his career, though, was his freshman season at Oklahoma. This is how a promising future can detour.
9. Bad News Bears (1976)
Yes, that’s the original Bad News Bears with Walter Matthau, not the more PC remake featuring Bad News Bears. It’s a classic, but this is not one of those saccharine kids sports movies. The language, the casual racism and sexism, the drunk coach — how did this movie get made?
10. Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns (1994)
Baseball romanticism is laid on pretty thick, especially after all that’s happened to the sport in the last 20 years — the dominance of football as the nation’s new pastime, the baseball strike and steroids. Still, no documentary more perfectly portrays baseball as a part of American culture. With 10 installments, Ken Burns’ Baseball is exhaustive, but all of it is necessary.
11. I am Ali (2014)
No summation of great sports films would be complete without representation from The Greatest. This isn’t necessarily best Muhammad Ali documentary — When We Were Kings would be in that discussion, but it’s unavailable on Netflix now — but it does show a different side of one of the greatest athletes in American history.
12. Knuckleball! (2012)
Pitchers are all a little strange. And there’s no stranger pitch in the arsenal than the knuckleball. The exclusive fraternity of knuckleballers — Tim Wakefield, Phil Niekro, Charlie Hough and R.A. Dickey — discuss why the pitch saved their careers and why a knuckleballer is always flirting with disaster. The film centers on Wakefield, but the moments with Dickey, filmed a year before he won the NL Cy Young in 2012, are especially poignant.
13. Pony Excess (2010)
What does it look like when an athletic program gives into the dark side (at least as far as NCAA rules are concerned)? This is the answer. SMU football wasn’t the biggest rule-breaker in the history of college athletics, but it was among the most brazen and certainly the most harshly punished.
14. Varsity Blues (1999)
Don’t trust anyone born between 1980-85 who can’t identify a character (Billy Bob), a line (“I don’t want your life”), an artist represented on the soundtrack (Foo Fighters, Green Day) or a scene (whipped cream bikini) from this film, the apex of 90s teen movies.
15. Days of Thunder (1990)
We could dismiss Days of Thunder on a few counts: It’s “Top Gun in a Stock Car,” it’s a not-great Tom Cruise movie when the actor could do little wrong, it’s John C. Reilly’s second-best racing movie. Or we could point out all the plot holes and head scratching moments. No, Days of Thunder hasn’t aged very well — if it was any good back in 1990 — but it’s plenty nostalgic for moviegoers of a certain age.
16. Coach Carter (2005)
Before Samuel L. Jackson was in Avengers movies and Channing Tatum was in ... everything, they starred in this high school basketball film. The story is a familiar one as a coach lays down the law for a troubled basketball team in the inner city. Jackson, though, is the perfect badass to take the title role.
17. Survive and Advance (2013)
There was only one Jim Valvano. One of the most colorful personalities in college basketball is known now as much for his ESPYs speech and the Jimmy V Foundation as his 1983 national title at NC State. That’s a good thing.
18. No Crossover: The Trial of Allen Iverson (2010)
Before he was one of the most electrifying NBA guards ever, Allen Iverson was a “transcendent” high school athletes in the words of Hoop Dreams director Steve James. James tells the complicated story of the trial and conviction of Iverson after a riot in a bowling alley in Virginia when Iverson was 18. James, also a native of Hampton, Va., takes great care in portraying the racial tensions surrounding the arrest of a local legend.
19. Elway to Marino (2013)
Think the NFL Draft is bonkers now? How about the 1983 first round that featured three Hall of Fame quarterback alone. The first one taken (John Elway) wanted nothing to do with the team that drafted him. The last one taken in the first round (Dan Marino) fell due to rumors drug use.
20. Run Ricky Run (2010)
In 2004, Ricky Williams may have been one of the most polarizing athletes of the time when the star running back abruptly left the Miami Dolphins amid repeated failed drug tests. Was Williams selfish? Was he battling bipolar disorders? Or was he misunderstood? Director Sean Pamphilon pulls back the curtain and we’re not quite sure.
21. Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL? (2009)
Before Donald Trump became ... whatever you think he is now ... he was the most important owner in the USFL. Director Michael Tollin, who worked for Trump and the New Jersey Generals, retraces the history of a league that took on the NFL and produced six Pro Football Hall of Famers. Was Trump’s ownership the death knell of the league or was any competitor to the NFL doomed for failure?
22. Once Brothers (2010)
As basketball became a worldwide sport, many of the NBA’s international players couldn’t help be impacted by political strife back home. Few conflicts were as bloody as the breakup of Yugoslavia. In Once Brothers, former Lakers center Vlade Divac of Serbia, revisits his relationship with Drazen Petrovic of Croatia. The two won a World Championship for Yugoslavia but were driven apart by civil war in their home country. The two were unable to reconcile before Petrovic’s death in 1993.
23. The U (2009)
How did the Miami Hurricanes of the 80s and 90s go from being a college football afterthought to one the biggest villains in sports history? Let the players, coaches and Luther Campbell explain.
24. Kings’ Ransom (2009)
The first installment of ESPN’s 30 for 30 was the perfect table-setter for the rest of the series — a major story told in a new way by an expert director. Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) examines the unthinkable trade that sent the greatest hockey player in history from Edmonton to Los Angeles.
25. The Karate Kid (1984)
Sport: Martial arts
Does it count as a sports movie? A coach, a kid, an underdog. Yep. Wax on, wax off.
Others of note:
The Fab 5 (2011)
In the 1990s, starting this many freshmen was revolutionary. Not to mention the baggy shorts, black socks and shaved heads. So much about basketball we take for granted in 2014-15 started with Jalen Rose, Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson. The story, of course, wasn’t all rosy.
Jordan Rides the Bus (2010)
Remember when Michael Jordan left basketball in the prime of his career to play minor league baseball and not all that well? The writer and director of Bull Durham takes a look in this 30 for 30 installment.
Straight Outta L.A. (2010)
Sport: Los Angeles
Ice Cube directs what would become one of the staples of the 30 for 30 series, in particular how a sports team or athlete becomes intertwined with a community, this time with Los Angeles and the Raiders.
The Legend of Jimmy the Greek (2009)
The 30 for 30 series took more risks early on, and few are more emblematic of that spirit than The Legend of Jimmy the Greek. A doc about rough-around-the-edges gambling guy narrated by a stand-in for Jimmy the Greek? That spirit had dimmed in following installments.
June 17th, 1994 (2010)
Sport: Basketball, O.J. Simpson, et al
It’s hard to imagine a day in the life of sports being more dramatic than this day in 1994 when O.J. Simpson’s Ford Bronco was chased on the streets Los Angeles, when the Knicks were playing in the NBA finals and when Arnold Palmer played his last round in the U.S. Open. It also captured a time when all of this played out on live television rather than social media.
Necessary Roughness (1991)
Sinbad, Rob Schneider, Scott Bakula and Kathy Ireland. The only way this movie could be more 90s is if it were on VHS.
The Last Gladiators (2011)
Hockey fans love enforcers, but the life of Chris “Knuckles” Nilan was more than fights on the rink.
Bigger Stronger Faster (2008)
Director Christopher Bell explores the 2000s steroid scandals from a different angle, that of the non-professional athlete, and takes a look at the image of mixed messages (Gov. Schwarzenegger) and other performance enhancements in sports.
Sport: Mountain climbing
Originally filmed in IMAX, but now that enough viewers have HD big screens and surround sounds, it’s time to take this picturesque to the “small” screen.
Requiem for the Big East (2014)
Why were sports fans sad to watch the traditional Big East slip away? This is the reason. The Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry, the colorful coaches, the physical play, Madison Square Garden. The league started from humble roots, built itself up on ESPN and then collapsed under the weight of football.
Silly Little Game (2010)
Sport: Fantasy sports
Find out why you need to blame a bunch of newspaper schlubs and professors meeting in a rotisserie restaurant created the biggest time vampire for football and baseball season.
Forget the question of why isn’t Cliff Alexander playing for Kansas. Now, the quesiton why isn’t Cliff Alexander available at all.
The Jayhawks’ freshman forward will not play Saturday against Texas due to what Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger has described as a precautionary measure related to Alexander’s eligibility.
“The NCAA has alerted us to an issue that could affect Cliff’s eligibility,” Zenger told KUSports.com. “As a precautionary measure Cliff will not take the court until we have resolved the issue.”
Alexander’s absence is another development in a strange season for the highly touted freshman, who was ranked the No. 4 prospect in the class.
In his last three games, Alexander has played 27 total minutes, no more than 11 minutes in a game. During that span, he’s converted just one field goal. Coach Bill Self has been more likely to play junior Jamari Traylor and sophomore Laden Lucas with Perry Ellis in his frontcourt, even if Alexander’s statistical profile at least indicates he’d be the most productive option.
At this stage of the season, a top-five prospect and potential NBA lottery pick averaging just 17.6 minutes and 7.1 points per game is bizarre, but this isn’t the first time this season Self has limited one of his star freshmen.
Forward Kelly Oubre, ranked No. 8 in the class, was seldom used in November and early in the Big 12 schedule. Oubre has started every game since Dec. 20 and played 32 minutes as recently as Feb. 16 against West Virginia.
What all this means for Kansas’ postseason and BIg 12 hopes remains unclear. The Jayhawks have won 10 consecutive Big 12 titles but have only a one-game lead in the standings with three regular season games to go.
Louisville’s other starting guard seems determined not to let the abrupt dismissal of Chris Jones damage the Cardinals’ season.
Sophomore Terry Rozier saved Louisville from a bad loss to Georgia Tech when he had 22 points on Monday in a come-from-behind 52-51 win. Against the Yellow Jackets, Rozier shot 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) from the field as the rest of his teammates shot 12-of-35 (34.3)
He got more of his teammates’ support Saturday against Florida State, but the effort was just as key as he moved into the point guard role. Rozier had a rough shooting day, converting only 3-of-14 from the floor for 10 points. He contributed in other ways as he added a career-high nine assists and six steals in an 81-59 rout of Florida State in Tallahassee.
Just as important, Wayne Blackshear emerged for 18 points against the Seminoles. The Louisville forward has all too often been a non-factor but has scored in double figures in each of the last three games after being shutout by Syracuse on Feb. 18.
If this is enough for Louisville to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinals will find out in the next week. Louisville’s two wins without JOnes have come against Georgia Tech and Florida State — two teams ranked 80th or lower on KenPom.com. The Cardinals’ last two games are at home against Notre Dame and Virginia.
No question, SEC basketball is better than it has been in a number of years.
The league should send its most teams to the NCAA Tournament since 2011, including the presumptive No. 1 overall seed in Kentucky.
The question, though, is if any of these teams can touch the Wildcats. Granted, few teams in any league can approach the Wildcats this season. There's no shame if Arkansas, Georgia, Texas A&M and Ole Miss can't finish off the Wildcats; Kentucky isn’t 28-0 because the SEC is a mediocre league.
At the same time, though, Kentucky hasn’t played a ranked team since a 58-50 win over Louisville on the road on Dec. 27. That changes Saturday when unanimous No. 1 Kentucky faces No. 18 Arkansas.
Does that mean that win streak will come to an end at Rupp Arena? Even though Arkansas is having its best season since at least 2008, upsetting Kentucky, at least so far this season, has been impossible.
Arkansas at Kentucky
Site: Rupp Arena, Lexington, Ky.
Time: Saturday, 4 p.m. Eastern
What’s up for grabs?
Kentucky’s undefeated season. If Kentucky is going to go to the SEC Tournament undefeated, this week may be the toughest stretch of the year. The Wildcats will face arguably the No. 2 team in the league in Arkansas and then face a solid Georgia team in Athens — the Bulldogs lost in Lexington on Feb. 3 without top player Marcus Thornton.
You’ll tune in to watch: Bobby Portis vs. Willie Cauley-Stein
The top contender for SEC Player of the Year may play for Arkansas rather than the nation’s No. 1 team. That’s as much of a reflection of Kentucky’s overall talent and balance as Portis’ season itself at 17.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. The 6-foot-11 sophomore takes on the toughest assignment for any forward in the country against Cauley-Stein and Kentucky’s bigs.
Pivotal player: Andrew Harrison
Kentucky’s sophomore point guard has been all over the place in recent weeks, 23 points and seven assists against Georgia one game, one point and two assists against Florida the next. Coming off of five points, three assists and no turnovers against Mississippi State, Harrison now faces the toughest pressing and trapping team in the SEC. Arkansas is 15th nationally in defensive turnover rate (23.3 percent).
Pivotal player II: Michael Qualls
Arkansas swept its regular season meetings against Kentucky last season largely due to the 6-foot-6 guard Qualls. The junior scored 18 points against Kentucky in Fayetteville and 14 points in Lexington, shooting a combined 11-of-17 from the field. Will Qualls and Anthlon Bell be able to knock down shots from the perimeter to keep Kentucky’s defense honest?
Biggest question: By how much will Kentucky rule the offensive glass?
This is the biggest advantage Kentucky will have against Arkansas, or most teams. The Wildcats lead the SEC in offensive rebound rate in league games (36.9 percent) while the Razorbacks are last in the league in defensive rebound rate. In Arkansas’ last game, an 81-75 win over Texas A&M, the Aggies destroyed the Hogs on the glass for 22 offensive boards.
David Fox: Kentucky 70-60
Mitch Light: Kentucky 73-64
Jake Rose: Kentucky 81-65
Selection Sunday may yet be a dramatic day for NC State. Yet if and when the Wolfpack get into the field, NC State may be one of the most dangerous teams in the bottom half of the bracket.
A team that lacked back-to-back wins for more than two months is suddenly riding a three-game win streak. The latest was NC State’s biggest statement of the season as the Wolfpack defeated North Carolina 58-46 for the Pack’s first win in Chapel Hill since 2003.
The uneven resume — including losses to Wofford, Clemson and Wake Forest — means NC State will be in the bottom half of the bracket. But wins over teams like Duke, Louisville and now North Carolina signal a team solid enough on a good day to beat some of the nation’s best.
If you’re a fan of a top-five or -six seed, here’s why you don’t want your team to have any part of NC State.
Cat Barber is the Cat Daddy
No one has been more instrumental to NC State’s turnaround than Anthony “Cat” Barber, Mark Gottfried’s top recruit from the 2013 class.
During the last six games, he’s averaged 18 points per game. He’s taking more shots. He’s getting to the free throw line (10-of-13 against Louisville alone) and he’s become a more efficient distributor.
Compare his last six games to his first 21 this season:
|Last six games||18||6.5||13.8||47.0||3.1|
|First 21 games||10||3.2||7.4||44.2||1.72|
And about that nickname? Does Gottfried call him Anthony or his childhood nickname Cat?
“I call him the Cat Daddy, and I want him to play like the Cat Daddy,” Gottfried said during the ACC conference call last week. “I think there's been times where he's tried so hard to run a team and get our team into the offense that he hasn't utilized that great speed and quickness that he has. Lately my message to him has been to turn it loose, cut it loose, let's go.”
BeeJay Anya is a rim protector
Barber’s 2013 classmate has been a fan favorite through his two seasons, but like Barber, he’s just now heating up. The 6-9 forward has 17 blocked shots in his last four games.
His six blocked shots contributed to an overwhelming defensive effort against North Carolina, which averaged just 0.77 points per possession against the Wolfpack. The Tar Heels make their living in the lane, but scored just 22 points in the paint — six in the first half — against NC State.
Trevor Lacey is a rock
The Alabama transfer has scored precisely 14 points in each of his last four games and 19 points in each of the two before that. That’s pretty remarkable when you think about it.
The larger point, though, is that Gottfried has a veteran forward on whom he can rely to score about 15 points in every game. Only two teams since December have held Lacey to fewer than 10 points, and they’re both low-possession, defensive-minded teams — Virginia and Cincinnati.
History may be on Gottfried’s side
While NC State and Gottfried have been part of some epic flameouts — a team ranked sixth in the preseason in 2012-13 lost as a No. 8 seed, for starters — the Wolfpack are four years removed from a surprise Sweet 16 run.
NC State went to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 11 seed in 2012 and upset No. 6 San Diego State and No. 3 Georgetown before giving No. 2 Kansas all it could handle in a 60-58 Sweet 16 loss.
At Alabama, Gottfried was just as erratic in the tournament. In 2003, he led a team that was ranked No. 1 in December but ended up losing as a No. 10 seed to Indiana in the first round. A year later, he presided over a team that went 8-8 in the SEC yet upset No. 1 seed Stanford and No. 5 Syracuse on the way to the Elite Eight.
Flash mobs are still a thing, especially at Maryland.
For the third consecutive year, the Terrapins student section executed a flash mob during a big game, this time near halftime of last night’s upset against Wisconsin.
Pull off one of these when it’s the hot trend? That’s one thing. Pull off this kind of choreography three years in a row? We commend you, Maryland students.
Things start getting good around the 1:10 mark.
Here’s another angle from Tuesday night:
Here’s Flash Mob Part II during a game against Syracuse on Feb. 24, 2014
And the inaugural flash mob and Harlem Shake in 2013 (bonus points: see if you can spot ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt).
If you have a sharp eye, you may notice a new look for the Cleveland Browns in 2015.
Granted, the record might not be totally different, but the Browns will be playing in a bolder, brighter shade of orange for the 30th anniversary of the Dawg Pound.
The Browns revealed Tuesday what they’re calling a “logo evolution.” The changes are subtle compared to other recent redesigns. The updated design gives the helmet a brown, rather than gray, facemask. The shade of orange is “brighter and richer,” say the Browns.
The Dawg Pound logo features the most dramatic new change, replacing the old dog face with a more cartoonish look.
Here are the main changes from the Browns' web site:
The first conference tournament game begins a week from Tuesday.
The college basketball season is entering its final stretch with teams trying to seal NCAA bids, clinch top seeds or find something resembling momentum entering the postseason.
If you’re just getting started as a viewer in college hoops or if you’ve been watching every game on the edge of your seat, there’s something for you every day from here until the end of the year.
Here are the best games you need to watch every night from now until the end of the regular season.
All times Eastern
|Tue.||Feb. 24||7 p.m.||ESPN|
The Badgers play three of their final four regular season games on the road with a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament on the line.
|Wed.||Feb. 25||9 p.m.||ESPNU|
After that team in Lawrence, Baylor and Iowa State may be the Big 12’s best hope to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament.
|Thu.||Feb. 26||11 p.m.||Pac-12 Networks|
Stanford has slipped to 8-6 in the Pac-12. The Cardinal could play its way into the NIT with a loss to overachieving Oregon State.
|Fri.||Feb. 27||10 p.m.||ESPNU|
This game could be for the top seed in the Horizon tournament, provided Valpo doesn’t clinch Wednesday against Detroit.
|Sat.||Feb. 28||4 p.m.||CBS|
True story: Kentucky hasn’t played a ranked team since Dec. 27 against Louisville. That changes against No. 18 Arkansas.
|Sun.||March 1||7:30 p.m.||Big Ten Network|
What will Purdue need to do in the Big Ten tournament to clinch an NCAA bid? Perhaps not much if the Boilers can pick up this key road win.
|Mon.||March 2||9 p.m.||ESPN|
Two red-hot teams in the Big 12 will try to make a last-ditch effort to deprive Kansas of its 11th consecutive conference title.
|Tue.||March 3||9 p.m.||ESPN|
Georgia gave Kentucky trouble in Lexington without Marcus Thornton. Could the win streak end against the full-strength Bulldogs in Athens?
|Wed.||March 4||7 p.m.||ESPN2|
Louisville wraps up the regular season against the Irish and Virginia at home ... and without point guard Chris Jones.
|Thu.||March 5||9 p.m.||ESPNU|
Davidson pulled itself out of a slump, and VCU can still win without Briante Weber. The Atlantic 10 is crowded at the top.
|Fri.||March 6||8 p.m.||American Sports Network|
These are the only two teams in contention for the Ivy’s NCAA bid. Harvard could clinch outright or Yale, which lost to the Crimson on Feb. 7, could force a playoff.
|Sat.||March 7||9 p.m.||ESPN|
North Carolina missed a golden opportunity to redefine its season in the first meeting against Duke. What does the matchup have in store?
|Sun.||March 8||4:30 p.m.||CBS|
One of the last games of the regular season features Frank Kaminsky and D’Angelo Russell on the same court.
A couple of weeks ago, Deeyung Entertainment, a graphic design firm based in Oklahoma, presented its take on alternate helmet designs for all 32 NFL teams.
In recent weeks, Dylan Young has presented his ideas on alternate college football helmets, in many cases using the secondary logos as primary logos.
What do you think?
Building a consistent winner in one college sport is tough enough. Building two in the most high-profile sports? That’s something special.
Only so many programs can contend for both college football and college basketball championships in the same calendar year. Only a handful can keep their fans cheering in bowl games and the NCAA Tournament every year.
This list celebrates the rare schools that have found the coaching pairs who can deliver such feats.
The goal of our coach tandem rankings is to look at each football and basketball duo as a pair. In general, we’re looking at the duos most likely to keep each school’s fans happy and entertained from the start of football season through the end of basketball season.
1. Ohio State
Football: Urban Meyer | Basketball: Thad Matta
Meyer and Alabama’s Nick Saban are the Nos. 1A and 1B of college football coaching with good reason. After Ohio State’s improbable run to the 2014 national championship, Meyer and Saban are the only coaches to win national titles at two different schools. Meyer is 38-3 with the Buckeyes and has six AP top five finishes at Utah, Florida and Ohio State. Matta has one of the most underrated careers in college basketball, partly because he’s never won a national title and partly because of his low-key personality. Remember, when Matta took over at Ohio State, the Buckeyes were emerging from NCAA sanctions. Since then, Ohio State has won 30 games three times and reached the Final Four twice. In 15 seasons as a head coach, he’s won at least a share of eight regular season conference titles.
Football: David Cutcliffe | Basketball: Mike Krzyzewski
Krzyzewski’s resume is self-explanatory: More than 1,000 career wins, 11 Final Fours and four national titles. Early NCAA Tournament exits (Mercer in 2014, Lehigh in '12) have vexed the Blue Devils, but that appears to be unlikely with the group Coach K has assembled this season. Cutcliffe has done the unthinkable with the football program by turning the perennial ACC bottom-feeder into a factor in the league race. Duke has won 19 games the last two seasons, reached three consecutive bowl games and won the ACC Coastal Division in 2013.
Football: Rich Rodriguez | Basketball: Sean Miller
Less than a decade ago, Arizona’s basketball and football programs were searching for an identity. The end of the Lute Olson era was a protracted experience with two interim coaches, and football found only limited success with Mike Stoops. Miller and Rodriguez have transformed all that. Miller has led Arizona to two Elite Eights and two regular season conference titles. The football program isn’t going to be USC, but Rodriguez is the right fit for an underdog program. His 10 wins last season was the most for Arizona since the Desert Swarm days, and 26 wins in three seasons in the most for the Wildcats in a three-year period since the 1970s.
Football: Gus Malzahn | Basketball: Bruce Pearl
During the course of two seasons, Auburn made two hires that changed the trajectory of its football and basketball program. Football had been relatively consistent back to the Pat Dye era, but it was clear Malzahn and his up-tempo, run-oriented offense brought something special to the Tigers. He was the offensive coordinator of the 2010 championship team and took Auburn back to the title game in the first season after his return in 2013. The ascent won’t be as rapid for the basketball program under Pearl, who has reached the Sweet 16 or better in four of his last seven seasons as head coach. Still, he’s brought in elite recruits and already has Auburn basketball fans following his cult of personality.
5. Michigan State
Football: Mark Dantonio | Basketball: Tom Izzo
This duo rarely makes a big splash with major recruits, but Dantonio and Izzo both excel at developing upperclassmen capable of winning in the Big Ten and the postseason. Dantonio has elevated Michigan State football to one of the powers in the Big Ten. He’s led Michigan State to four seasons of 11 wins or more in the last five and back-to-back top-five finishes, something that hasn’t happened in East Lansing since 1965-66. Izzo is in interesting territory. He is enduring his longest Final Four drought (five seasons, boo hoo) and his team is in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997. The track record, though, is elite: Izzo has six career Final Fours and a national title.
Football: Jim Harbaugh | Basketball: John Beilein
Give credit to both of these coaches for not taking the easy route: Harbaugh’s first head coaching job was at San Diego of the non-scholarship Pioneer League; Beilein’s was at Erie Community College. All Michigan is asking of its new hire Harbaugh is to do what Beilein has done — return a program to national contention. In basketball, the Wolverines reached the Final Four in 2013 and the Elite Eight in 2014. Harbaugh would seem to be up to the task at his alma mater. He built Stanford into a Pac-12 contender and took the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl.
Football: Bobby Petrino | Basketball: Rick Pitino
The Petrino/Pitino duo is back at Louisville for the first time since 2006. Having both coaches is still a boon for the Cardinals. Petrino went 9-4 and finished in the top 25 in his first season back with the Cardinals, a notable feat considering the revolving door at quarterback and that it was the football program’s indoctrination into the ACC. Petrino has finished in the top 25 in six of 10 seasons as a head coach, including four times in five total seasons at Louisville. Pitino has seven Final Fours and two national championships, including the 2013 title.
Football: Bob Stoops | Basketball: Lon Kruger
Even though Stoops is coming off an 8-5 campaign, the most disappointing since he’s been a head coach, Oklahoma has the most solid coaching duo in the league. Stoops has won at least 10 games in four of the last five seasons and made more BCS games than any other coach under the old system. Kruger, whose forte is rebuilding programs, has completed his reclamation of OU basketball with his best team this season. No program is more likely to be in a major bowl game and the NCAA Tournament in the same season as Oklahoma.
9. Notre Dame
Football: Brian Kelly | Basketball: Mike Brey
Is Notre Dame a year-in and year-out powerhouse in either sport? Not yet. Still, both coaches deserve credit for putting the Irish back into the mix. The Irish are two years removed from an undefeated regular season in football, and Kelly is the first Notre Dame coach to post five consecutive winning seasons since Lou Holtz. Mike Brey’s consistency — six NCAA appearances in eight years — gets overlooked because his team hasn’t made it to the Sweet 16 since 2003. Now if only both of them could go a season without losing a player to an academic-related suspension...
Football: Art Briles | Basketball: Scott Drew
The year before Briles was hired, Baylor football was riding 12 consecutive losing seasons. When Drew was hired, Baylor was emerging from one of the biggest scandals in college basketball history. It’s tough to find a duo who improved their school’s situation more from the day they were hired until 2015. Briles had Baylor on the verge of the College Football Playoff and won the last two Big 12 titles. And Drew has twice taken Baylor basketball to the Elite Eight and once to the Sweet 16.
11. Florida State
Football: Jimbo Fisher | Basketball: Leonard Hamilton
Florida State’s football program is the healthiest it has been since Bobby Bowden was in his prime. In the last three seasons, Fisher has led the Seminoles to a national title, 29 consecutive wins, a College Football Playoff appearance and three ACC titles. The basketball program was on a nice hot streak from 2009-12 under Hamilton with four consecutive NCAA appearances, an ACC tournament title and a trip to the Sweet 16. In three seasons since, FSU has yet to post a winning ACC record.
12. Oregon State
Football: Gary Andersen | Basketball: Wayne Tinkle
Oregon State pulled off one of the biggest coups of the college football coaching carousel this season when it pulled Andersen from Wisconsin. The former Badgers coach was 19-7 overall and 13-3 in the Big Ten after winning 11 games and a WAC title at Utah State. Just as important, though, was the arrival of Tinkle with the basketball program. He took Montana to the NCAA Tournament and won two Big Sky regular season titles in his final three seasons. His first team at Oregon State is already competitive in the Pac-12. Both of the Oregon State coaching jobs are among the toughest in the Pac-12, but both coaches can win here.
13. North Carolina
Football: Larry Fedora | Basketball: Roy Williams
North Carolina fans don’t like to hear this, but both coaches leave us wanting more these days. Williams is a Hall of Fame coach with seven career Final Fours and two national championships. Yet his team will have five or more ACC losses for the third consecutive season. If Carolina doesn’t reach the Sweet 16 this season, Williams will face his longest Sweet 16 drought since 1998-2000 at Kansas. Fedora’s win total has decreased every season at Carolina, and he’s never finished better than 5-3 in the league.
14. Virginia Tech
Football: Frank Beamer | Basketball: Buzz Williams
On career achievements, this duo should rank higher. Virginia Tech is a factor in football because of Beamer, who has been the coach since 1987. And despite 22 consecutive winning seasons, the Hokies are having a bit of identity crisis. The 10- and 11-win seasons have become seven- and eight-win seasons during the last three years. Williams’ credentials at Marquette were impeccable — two Sweet 16s, an Elite Eight and five consecutive NCAAs through 2013 — but he’s working through a major rebuilding project in his first season in Blacksburg.
Football: David Shaw | Basketball: Johnny Dawkins
Stanford has a pair of coaches that — at least for now — appear to be trending in opposite directions. Shaw picked up where Jim Harbaugh left off and led Stanford to 34 wins, three major bowl games and two Pac-12 titles in his first three seasons. The 2014 season, though, ended with five losses and a trip to the Foster Farms Bowl. Dawkins seemed to be in trouble entering last season before taking Stanford to the Sweet 16. The Cardinal should head to a second consecutive NCAA Tournament this season.
Football: Kyle Whittingham | Basketball: Larry Krystkowiak
Times were better for Whittingham and Utah football in the Mountain West, when the Utes went 33-6, including an undefeated season in 2008, in their last three seasons in the league. Wittingham delivered Utah’s best season in the Pac-12 last year — 9-4 overall and 5-4 in the league — but coaching staff tumult has put the future in question. Basketball, on the other hand, is surging forward. Krystkowiak went 6-25 with a broken program in his first year, reached 21 wins in his third and has a top-10 team in his fourth. The Utes have arguably their best team since Rick Majerus was the coach.
Football: Mark Helfrich | Basketball: Dana Altman
Helfrich picked up where Chip Kelly left off, reaching the national title game in his second season as head coach and winning 11 games and finishing in the top 10 in his first season. He’s laid-back demeanor is a change for the program, but the most pressing issue is winning without Marcus Mariota. Altman has survived an offseason of controversy to have Oregon in contention for its third consecutive NCAA Tournament bid. In his last 17 seasons at Creighton and Oregon, Altman has 16 20-win seasons.
Football: Jim L. Mora | Basketball: Steve Alford
Mora has pulled UCLA out of its funk, leading the Bruins to back-to-back 10 win seasons and top-25 finishes for the first time since 1997-98. With the way he has recruited, more should be on the way. Alford got over his NCAA Tournament bugaboo by reaching the Sweet 16 in his first season at UCLA. If the Bruins even get into the field this season, it will be something of a victory. Alford has been around longer than you might think — he’s taken four teams to the Tournament and should get to 450 career wins next season.
Football: Paul Chryst | Basketball: Bo Ryan
Ryan was already one of the best coaches in the country when he led Wisconsin to top-four finishes in the Big Ten every year since 2002. Now, he’s looking to take the Badgers to back-to-back Final Fours. And he’s done all of that without a ton of major recruits on his roster. Wisconsin football has had an unbroken record of success under Barry Alvarez, Bret Bielema and Gary Andersen. Chryst, a former Badgers player and offensive coordinator, knows the territory. His record at Pittsburgh — 19-19 overall, 10-13 in the ACC — was nothing special, but he took over program with a tumultuous coaching situation.
Football: Tommy Tuberville | Basketball: Mick Cronin
The well-traveled Tuberville has kept the momentum going at Cincinnati, going 9-4 in each of his first two seasons and winning a share of the American title last year. Cronin has missed most of this season while he deals with a health issue, but he’s returned the Bearcats to contender status after a difficult rebuild. Cincinnati has reached the NCAA Tournament in the last four seasons and reached the 2012 Sweet 16.
Football: Chad Morris | Basketball: Larry Brown
The Mustangs have spent recent years clawing for renewed relevance in both sports. The Hall of Famer Brown, despite NCAA troubles this season, has delivered. His team is on the way to its first NCAA bid since 1993 a year after winning 27 games and going to the NIT. Morris was one of the hottest names in the coaching carousel after taking his high-flying offense to Clemson. His Texas high school connections should serve him well as he tries to rebuild in Dallas.
Football: Al Golden | Basketball: Jim Larranaga
Golden left Temple with the reputation of a miracle worker and walked into the Nevin Shapiro mess at Miami. After a self-imposed bowl ban in his first two seasons, Miami went 9-4 in his third year before falling to 6-7 last season. With quarterback Brad Kaaya starting his second season, Golden is entering a critical fifth year. Larranaga has taken George Mason to a Final Four and won the ACC at Miami. That’s a pretty darn good career right there, never mind that he has 547 career wins otherwise.
23. San Diego State
Football: Rocky Long | Basketball: Steve Fisher
What Fisher has done at San Diego State was once unthinkable. A program that hadn’t won an NCAA Tournament game before Fisher arrived is a perennial postseason team. The Aztecs have twice won 30 games and twice reached the Sweet 16 during the last five years. Football isn’t the same contender as the basketball program, but the longtime underachiever has reached a bowl game all four seasons under Long.
Football: Bronco Mendenhall | Basketball: Dave Rose
Five or six years ago, the stock for the BYU duo would have been higher than it is now. Back then, Jimmer Fredette was on the court for BYU, and the Cougars had won at least 10 games in four of five seasons. BYU is still trying to find its way as an independent and West Coast Conference member, but both are still regulars in the postseason.
25. Kansas State
Football: Bill Snyder | Basketball: Bruce Weber
Kansas State failed to sign a top 50 recruiting class in 2015, but that doesn’t matter. We’ll end up talking about the Wildcats as a top 10 team at some point anyway. That’s the deal for Snyder, whose teams have been the biggest overachievers in college football. Weber’s team has fallen below expectations this season, but he’s still two years removed from a 27-win season and a share of the Big 12 title.
Nebraska basketball will wear throwbacks to the 1954-55 team for Sunday’s game against Iowa.
The replicas are designed to commemorate the 60th anniversary of coach Jerry Bush’s first Cornhuskers team during Legends Weekend. Stan Matzke, a captain in 1954-55, will speak to more than 50 former Nebraska players spanning eight decades.
The uniforms will look great, but the memories? Not so much. The 1954-55 team went 9-12 in the original unis.