NASCAR Media Roundtable: The Legacy of the Richmond Scandal

The first of a nine-part feature addressing the biggest issues in NASCAR
As part of the 2014 NASCAR season preview, Athlon Sports sits down with seven of the sport's leading journalists to answer the question of how the sport will deal with the legacy of Michael Waltrip Racing's “Spingate” scandal at Richmond in 2013.

Each day from mid-February through late November, a small band of motorsports journalists work nearly around the clock — this being the digital age — to keep rabid NASCAR fans as up-to-the-second informed as possible. Many of these media members are ensconced in the sport’s “traveling circus,” working in garage areas, media centers and pressboxes nearly 40 weeks a year. So who better to go to for a “state of the sport” talk than them?

2014 NASCAR Driver Profile: Brad Keselowski

Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe shoot for second Sprint Cup title
Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 Team Penske group shoot for a second NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in 2014.

Ask Brad Keselowski how quickly one can go from “champ” to “chump.”  Brad Keselowski

2014 NASCAR Driver Profile: Joey Logano

Joey Logano and Team Penske aim for a second straight NASCAR Chase bid
Joey Logano crew chief Todd Gordon lead the No. 22 Team Penske group into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

In the year in which he turned 23, the driver whom Mark Martin once called the “best of his generation” finally started living up to those lofty expectations. In his fifth Cup Series season, Joey Logano had a career year in 2013 after moving to Team Penske from Joe Gibbs’ operation, stabilizing the No. 22 car after becoming its fourth different driver in less than two years.  Joey Logano

2014 NASCAR Driver Profile: Marcos Ambrose

2014 could be a make-or-break year for Marcos Ambrose and Richard Petty Motorsports
Marcos Ambrose and his no. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports team face a make-or-break year on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit in 2014.

After improving steadily for three seasons — on the track and in the points standings — Marcos Ambrose still wasn’t much of a week-to-week contender for NASCAR’s Chase in 2013. But a distinct ability to win on road courses, combined with the occasional oval-track success, always kept the Chase door slightly open for him to make it in as a wild card entrant when the payoffs were a 12-driver affair.

2014 NASCAR Driver Profile: Aric Almirola

Aric Almirola and Richard Petty Motorsports look to rebound for a 2014 Sprint Cup Chase bid
Aric Almirola and new chief Trent Owens lead the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 team into the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

Plenty of the elements around Aric Almirola’s ride in Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 remain the same from last year to this year. The team is sticking with Ford, Marcos Ambrose returns as his teammate, and primary sponsorship from Smithfield Foods, among others, remains solid amid a swarm of investor cash.  Aric Almirola

Fan Shoving Incident Tarnishes Difficult Season for Marcus Smart

Confrontation further clouds season for All-America contender
Fan Shoving Incident Tarnishes Difficult Season for Marcus Smart

In an interview before the season, Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart said Texas Tech was his least favorite opposing arena.

“The atmosphere just isn’t there,” he said.

On Saturday, the atmosphere at Texas Tech was too much.

Smart, a preseason All-American and one of the top prospects for the 2014 NBA Draft, shoved a fan in the final seconds of Oklahoma State’s 65-61 loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock.

Oklahoma QB Blake Bell Moving to Tight End

Bell is set to move to tight end this spring.
Oklahoma QB Blake Bell Moving to Tight End

With Trevor Knight entrenched as Oklahoma’s starting quarterback, Blake Bell is looking for a way to get on the field. Bell started eight games at quarterback in 2013, but the coaching staff plans to move the Kansas native to tight end this spring.

Knight finished the season with a standout performance against Alabama, completing 32 of 44 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns in the Sugar Bowl.

Bell came into the 2013 season as a potential All-Big 12 quarterback but never settled into the No. 1 role.

Recruiting: A Complete Breakdown of SEC Early Enrollees in 2014

The SEC enrolled 72 recruits early in the 2014 cycle.
Recruiting: A Complete List of SEC Early Enrollees in 2014

Enrolling early is a fairly new trend that is clearly used by one league more so than any other.

Fans always ask how the SEC does it? How can one league become so dominant? The simple answer is it cares more. The SEC is more dedicated to winning championships than your favorite conference, from the last graduate assistant on the sidelines to the last row of fans in the nosebleed seats at Neyland Stadium to the big-dollar donors and $7 million coaches.

College Basketball Weekend Preview: Iowa Seeks Defining Win vs. Michigan

Tricky road trips, teams on the bubble highlight this weekend's slate of games
College Basketball Weekend Preview: Iowa Seeks Defining Win vs. Michigan

After last week, maybe college basketball needs a bit of a breather for the weekend.

Syracuse’s overtime win over Duke was the game of the year, but Saturday and Sunday also wrecked the top 25 with seven ranked teams losing to unranked foes.

This week, only two games will feature two ranked teams (Michigan-Iowa and Gonzaga-Memphis). On one hand, the weekend will lack a true No. 1 matchup, but the potential for chaos is still high.