Articles By All

All taxonomy terms: Arizona Wildcats, College Football, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/arizona-wildcats-2016-spring-practice-preview

Disappointment followed breakthrough for Arizona football, which won 10 games and the Pac-12 South in 2014, only to scrape to bowl eligibility last season.


Though the Wildcats finished on the right side of .500 for a fourth straight season — the first time that's happened in Tucson since 1992-95 — their seven victories were the fewest under head coach Rich Rodriguez. Arizona also limped to a 3-5 finish in Pac-12 Conference play, suffering lopsided losses to Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA and Washington, and coughing up a two-touchdown lead at USC.


The disappointment of 2015 begat changes for '16, the first glimpses of which can be seen in Arizona's spring practices. The Wildcats are the first team to open their offseason workouts, kicking off Friday. Rodriguez also has opted to eschew the customary spring game and instead use the spring to focus on basics.


5 Storylines to Watch in Arizona Spring Practice


1. A Revamped Defense

Arizona's backslide in 2015 can be attributed in large part to the regression of former coordinator Jeff Casteel's defense. Arizona had one of the nation's most porous defenses in 2012, the result of implementing a new 3-3-5 scheme and lacking depth at key positions.


Despite positive progress in 2013 and '14, the Wildcats ranked No. 101 nationally against the run last season, and No. 106 in points allowed. Dismal play in the front seven, in part due to a bevy of injuries at linebacker, exposed glaring issues, prompting an overhaul in the coaching staff.


College Football Podcast: 2016 Coaching Carousel

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Casteel is out, and Marcel Yates is in. The former Boise State defensive coordinator oversaw one of the nation' most aggressive pass-rushing units, an element missing at Arizona.


Yates alluded to the great Desert Swarm defenses of the 1990s in his introductory address. The Wildcats won't regain that form in one offseason, but Yates will plant the seeds over the next few weeks.


2. The Right Man to Replace Wright

While one player may not have been enough to salvage Arizona's defense in 2015, linebacker Scooby Wright's absence for much of the season certainly put the Wildcats in a tough spot. No one defensive player in college football did more in 2014, and for his efforts, Wright swept the national awards.


Though Wright's production was an outlier, recent Arizona defenses relied on playmakers who could cover certain deficiencies. Jake Fischer and Jared Tevis were two such standouts who played all over the field and could generate turnovers before Wright did so at an All-American clip.


Arizona's new-look defense needs someone — or a few someones, ideally — to emerge as prolific playmakers.


3. The Quarterback Outlook 

Anu Solomon generated some modest Heisman Trophy chatter in his redshirt freshman 2014 season, but suffered through an injury-plagued sophomore slump. Struggles last year aside, Solomon enters spring practices firmly entrenched as the starter.


However, Brandon Dawkins, who showed flashes of brilliance in an appearance against Arizona State, will use the spring to prep in case his number's called. Talented newcomer Khalil Tate is an early enrollee and will get a jump on his college career. Arizona should have options in the fall if Solomon gets hurt again.

Related: College Football's Pre-Spring 1-128 Starting Quarterback Rankings for 2016


4. Nick Wilson's Return

The injury bug that ravaged Arizona's locker room didn't spare its talented running back, who lost four games in 2015. Wilson is working his way back to 100 percent, Rodriguez told reporters Wednesday.



Wilson was a worthy heir to program record-setter Ka'Deem Carey in 2014, rushing for 1,375 yards and 16 touchdowns, with another score via reception. When healthy, Wilson has All-American potential. Spring previews his progression towards regaining that potential in his junior campaign.


Related: College Football's Pre-Spring Top 75 Running Back Rankings for 2016


5. Replacing Cayleb Jones

Jones (6-3) stood tall in the Arizona wide receiver corps each of the last two seasons, figuratively and literally. He caught 129 passes for 1,926 yards with 14 touchdowns, leading the Wildcats in each category in 2014 and '15.


Arizona returns proven playmakers Nate Phillips, Samajie Grant and Trey Griffey, while former defensive back Cam Denson makes the switch to offense. One of these needs to fill Jones' void as the reliable target Solomon can depend on regardless of situation.  


Pre-Spring Arizona Outlook in the Pac-12


The parity in the Pac-12 leaves little room for regression. Arizona experienced that firsthand in 2015, plummeting from first place in the South to fifth and just ahead of perennial cellar-dweller Colorado. The conference doesn't get any easier, and the Wildcats face myriad uncertainties ahead of 2016.


The good news for the Wildcats, however, is that the entire South is shrouded in mystery. None of the division's six teams stands out as a clear favorite. On paper, Arizona looks like one of the weaker candidates, but recent seasons have proven assuming anything about the Pac-12 is a fool's errand.


— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.

Arizona Wildcats 2016 Spring Practice Preview
Post date: Friday, February 12, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/jimmy-fallon-interviews-peyton-manning-kristen-wiig-super-bowl-win-broncos-tonight-show

Jimmy Fallon took some extra time out of his show to interview Peyton Manning. Oh wait, that's Kristen Wiig!


The fake Broncos quarterback did her best to describe what it was like to get the Super Bowl win and hilarious talks about Manning's life in general. Spoiler alert: she doesn't know anything and it's beyond funny. Wiig should do more rapid fire rounds as other athletes.


Post date: Friday, February 12, 2016 - 09:49
Path: /nfl/25-greatest-tight-ends-nfl-history-2016

There was a time when the tight end position in the NFL served as a sixth lineman who could also run a route to catch the occasional pass. My how the times have changed.


Today, tight ends are key cogs of high-powered offenses – often with entire packages designed to fit their individual skill sets. The extra emphasis placed on the position today causes us to look back at some of the greats who played the position historically and decide how they measure up – both from a statistical sense as well as in the simple “eye test.”


25 Greatest Tight Ends in NFL History


25. Owen Daniels

Houston Texans 2006-13; Baltimore Ravens 2014; Denver 2015-Present

2-time Pro Bowler

Super Bowl 50 champion

131 games – 479 catches, 5,661 yards (11.8 ypc), 36 TDs


I had to double-check the stats, and they checked out. Daniels is in the running for being the most under-appreciated tight end in history. There is nothing about him or his game that stands out, but the guy flat out produces.


24. Jeremy Shockey

New York Giants 2002-07; New Orleans 2008-10); Carolina 2011

First-team All-Pro (2002), 4-time Pro Bowler

2 Super Bowl rings (XLII, XLIV)

136 games –  547 catches, 6,143 yards (11.2 ypc), 37 TDs


There was a period of two or three years early on in his career where he was Gronk before there was such a thing as Gronk.


23. Brent Jones

San Francisco 1987-97

4-time Pro Bowler

3 Super Bowl rings (XXIII, XXIV,  XXIX)

143 games – 417 catches, 5,195 yards (12.5 ypc), 33 TDs


A complete tight end who showed up and did his job while surrounded by legends.


22. Jay Novacek

St. Louis/Phoenix Cardinals 1985-89; Dallas 1990-95

First-team All-Pro (1992), 5-time Pro Bowler

3 Super Bowl rings (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)

158 games – 422 catches, 4,630 yards (11.0 ypc), 30 TDs


Novacek was the perfect complement to the “Triplets” (Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin) during the Cowboys’ epic ruin in the early 1990s.


21. Jimmy Graham

New Orleans 2010-14; Seattle 2015

First-team All-Pro (2013), 3-time Pro Bowler

89 games – 434 catches, 5,357 yards (12.3 ypc), 53 TDs


If he can get and stay healthy, along with finding a more prominent role in Seattle's offense, he can climb this list quickly.


20. Riley Odoms

Denver 1972-83
2-time first-team All-Pro, 4-time Pro Bowler

153 games – 396 catches, 5,755 yards (14.5 ypc), 41 TDs; 25 carries, 211 yards (8.4 ypc), 2 TDs


You could make the argument that he was Denver's best player for nearly a decade.


19. Vernon Davis

San Francisco 2006-2015; Denver 2015-Present

2-time Pro Bowler

Super Bowl 50 Champion

148 games – 461 catches, 5,841 yards (12.7 ypc), 55 TDs


Davis is one of the better pure athletes to ever play the position.


18. Heath Miller

Pittsburgh 2005-Present

2-time Pro Bowler

2 Super Bowl rings (XL, XLIII)

168 games – 592 catches, 6,569 yards (11.1 ypc), 45 TDs


Miller has quietly put together quite the resume by being a model of consistency since he entered the league.


17. Dallas Clark

Indianapolis Colts 2003-11; Tampa Bay 2012; Baltimore 2013

First-team All-Pro (2009), Pro Bowl (2009)

Super Bowl XLI Champion

143 games – 505 catches, 5,665 yards (11.2 ypc), 53 TDs


He was the unsung hero of the dominant Peyton Manning-led Colt offenses.


16. Keith Jackson

Philadelphia 1988-91; Miami 1992-94; Green Bay 1995-96

3-time first-team All-Pro, 5-time Pro Bowler

129 games – 441 catches, 5,283 yards (12.0 ypc), 49 TDs


Probably the most complete tight end in history.


15. Todd Christensen

New York Giants 1979; Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders 1979-88

2-time first-team All-Pro, 5-time Pro Bowler

137 games – 461 catches, 5,872 yards (12.7 ypc), 41 TDs


He was a Raider favorite who thrived despite being in the huddle with a handful of other legendary skill position players.


14. Charlie Sanders

Detroit 1968-77

Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2007

3-time first-team All-Pro, 7-time Pro Bowler

128 games – 336 catches, 4,817 yards (14.3 ypc), 31 TDs


The other legendary Sanders to play in Detroit was a serious deep threat at the position.


13. Ben Coates

New England 1991-99; Baltimore Ravens 2000

2-time first-team All-Pro, 5-time Pro Bowler

158 games – 499 catches, 5,555 yards (11.1 ypc), 50 TDs


He was a key cog in the Drew Bledsoe-led Patriot offenses that put up huge numbers in the 1990s.


12. Jerry Smith

Washington 1965-77

First-team All-Pro (1969), 2-time Pro Bowler

168 games – 421 catches, 5,496 yards (13.1 ypc), 60 TDs


One of the most underrated players in NFL history.


11. Jackie Smith

St. Louis Cardinals 1963-77; Dallas 1978

Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1994

5-time Pro Bowler

210 games – 480 catches, 7,918 yards (16.5 ypc), 40 TDs; 38 carries, 327 yards (8.6 ypc), 3 TDs


Smith is sadly remembered mostly for his dropped pass in the end zone during Dallas’ 35-31 loss to Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XIII. But that one missed opportunity shouldn’t overshadow the fact he was a solid and at times dominant force throughout his Hall of Fame career.


10. Dave Casper

Oakland 1974-80, ’84, Houston Oilers 1981-83; Minnesota 1983

Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2002

4-time first-team All-Pro, 5-time Pro Bowler

2 Super Bowl rings (XI, XV)

147 games – 378 catches, 5,216 yards (13.8 ypc), 52 TDs


Kenny Stabler will be inducted into Canton later this summer, and Casper was a big reason why. Casper was the premier tight end in pro football during the 1970s, leading to his immortal status in the eyes of Raider Nation.


9. Jason Witten

Dallas 2003-Present

2-time first-team All-Pro, 10-time Pro Bowler

207 games – 1,020 catches, 11,215 yards (11.0 ypc), 60 TDs


Witten may be the last of the old-school tight ends – a big-bodied guy who blocks as well as he runs routes and catches passes. He has been the Cowboys’ cornerstone for 13 seasons. His stat line speaks for itself and because of those numbers, Witten will one day be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


8. John Mackey

Baltimore Colts 1963-71; San Diego 1972

Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1992

3-time first-team All-Pro, 5-time Pro Bowler

139 games – 331 catches, 5,236 yards (15.8 ypc), 38 TDs, 19 rushes, 127 yards (6.7 ypc)


The John Mackey Award is given to the best tight end in college football annually. That alone should tell you how great he was in his time. Mackey was one of the premier offensive weapons in the NFL during his prime. Perhaps most impressive – he missed only one game during his 10-year career.


7. Rob Gronkowski

New England 2010-Present

4-time first-team All-Pro, 4-time Pro Bowler

Super Bowl XLIX Champion

2014 AP & PFWA Comeback Player of the Year

80 games – 380 catches, 5,555 yards (14.6 ypc), 65 TDs


There was an urge on my part avoid delaying the inevitable and just put Gronk at the top of this list. Going by the eye test, it's tough not to call Gronkowski the greatest ever at the position. Longevity concerns due to multiple injuries are the only things holding him back. If he continues to stay healthy and play at the level he has so far in his career, he'll be at the top of this list before too long.


6. Mike Ditka

Chicago 1961-66; Philadelphia 1967-68; Dallas 1969-72

Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1988

2-time first-team All-Pro, 5-time Pro Bowler

Super Bowl VI champion (Cowboys)

158 games – 427 catches, 5,812 yards (13.6 ypc), 43 TDs


Long before he was Da Coach in Chicago and the subject of a legendary series of SNL skits, Ditka was the focal point of the Bears' passing attack in the 1960s. He brought the same toughness to the offense that teammate Dick Butkus brought to the defense, making Chicago one of the most feared and respected franchises in the NFL.


5. Ozzie Newsome

Cleveland 1978-90

Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1999

First-team All-Pro (1984), 3-time Pro Bowler

198 games – 662 catches, 7,980 yards (12.1 ypc), 47 TDs


Newsome was one of the premier tight ends of the 1980s along with Kellen Winslow. He was a favorite target of Bernie Kosar's on a Cleveland Browns team that fell agonizingly short of two Super Bowl appearances at the hands of the Broncos. Newsome's football IQ set him apart, and that is what has made him one of the elite general managers in the game today.


4. Kellen Winslow

San Diego 1979-87

Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1995

3-time first-team All-Pro, 5-time Pro Bowler

109 games – 541 catches, 6,741 yards (12.5 ypc), 45 TDs


Winslow is the guy many people immediately picture when they hear the words "tight end." He was the first real deep threat at the position, making an already prolific Dan Fouts-led passing attack that much more lethal. Many will likely eclipse his stats, but nobody will ever replace the iconic image of Winslow's teammates carrying him off the field after exhausting himself -- mentally and physically -- in a playoff game in Miami's Orange Bowl in 1982.


3. Shannon Sharpe

Denver 1990-99, 2002-03; Baltimore 2000-01

Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2011

4-time first-team All-Pro, 8-time Pro Bowler

3 Super Bowl rings (XXXII, XXXIII, XXXV)

204 games – 815 catches, 10,060 yards (12.3 ypc), 62 TDs


Sharpe's stat line speaks for itself, but it was his immeasurable impact as John Elway’s and subsequently Trent Dilfer's security blanket in the passing games of two championship teams that set him apart from others at his position. He was the first of the oversized natural wide receivers who assumed the role of tight end.


2. Antonio Gates

San Diego 2003-Present

3-time first-team All-Pro, 8-time Pro Bowler

190 games – 844 catches, 10,644 yards (12.6 ypc), 104 TDs


Like Gonzalez, Gates is a former college basketball player who has used his rare athletic ability to create problems for opposing defenses. He is the Chargers’ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches. He co-owns an NFL record with Philip Rivers as the leading quarterback-to-tight end touchdown scoring combo in NFL history, hooking up 77 times in the end zone.


1. Tony Gonzalez

Kansas City 1997-2008; Atlanta 2009-12

6-time first-team All-Pro, 14-time Pro Bowler

270 games – 1,325 catches, 15,127 yards (11.4 ypc), 111 TDs


Gonzalez pioneered the trend of basketball players making the transition to the tight end position. His frame combined with his athleticism created unique matchup problems for defenses, revolutionizing schemes on both sides of the ball. Statistically, he has far and away the greatest resume of anyone who ever played the position.


— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Scott is the editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

25 Greatest Tight Ends in NFL History
Post date: Friday, February 12, 2016 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/ranking-big-tens-football-rosters-2016

The sky is blue, the Earth is round and when you have better players, you win more games.


Certainly, winning big in college football takes great coaching, enormous support staffs, state-of-the-art training facilities and plenty of luck. But whoever has the most talented roster, has a head start in the race for conference and national championships. 


National Signing Day 2016 gave us more than 4,000 new players to root for and track over the next four or five seasons. So which teams are in the best shape for 2016?


College Football Podcast: 2016 National Signing Day Recap

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for Big Ten schools over the last five classes according to 247Sports Team Composite rankings and each team's record over the last five seasons. Obviously, this doesn't take into account attrition but, over time, this should be considered relatively even across the conference.


Ranking the Big Ten's College Football Rosters in 2016:




What We Learned:


Not So Fast

Many have been quick to point to Michigan or Michigan State as the front-runner in the Big Ten in 2016. However, one team stands head-and-shoulders above the rest of the league in terms of talent and that team is Ohio State. Urban Meyer has the No. 2-ranked roster in the nation behind only Alabama and is the only B1G team ranked in the top 14. Michigan has closed the gap (and will continue to do so) and the Spartans are surging on the trail, but OSU still owns the Midwest talent pipeline.


Spartans Closing

Mark Dantonio does things his way and he needs players who buy into that. But if he can get guys that are bigger, stronger, faster AND willing to buy in, his team will be in better shape. Michigan State has turned all of those recent wins, conference titles and big-time bowl berths into back-to-back 22nd-rated classes. Both of which, on paper, would be the best of the Dantonio era in East Lansing. Subsequently, Michigan State moved from fifth in the league in talent last fall to third in 2016.


Time to Win

Penn State is tied with the Spartans (27.4) for the third-best roster in the Big Ten. Yet, the Nittany Lions are just 37-26 (22-18) over the last five years. Certainly, scholarship limitations are a huge issue and had slowed James Franklin’s progress. But PSU has as good a roster as nearly everyone in this league and the wins need to come after back-to-back top-20 classes.


UnOfficial Struggles

Mike Riley has a tough job on his hands when it comes to recruiting. Once prospects are on campus in Lincoln, it isn’t hard to sell Nebraska football. It’s one of the greatest programs in the game. However, getting players to campus on their own dime is nearly impossible. Which actually makes the 24th-rated class something of a victory for Riley in his first full cycle. Nebraska is fifth in the league and 29th nationally in terms of talent — which may be the current reality of modern recruiting at Nebraska.


Unsustainable Success

Iowa’s 2015 year came out of nowhere and almost led to a Big Ten title — like most of Kirk Ferentz’ most memorable seasons. However, the reason Iowa cannot sustain long-term, elite-level success is simple. The Hawkeyes don’t have the overall talent to compete. No coach can be expected to compete for championships with the 11th-most talented roster in any league much less one of the B1G’s caliber. Indiana, Rutgers and Northwestern have better players — which is shocking.


Kommitment to Kevin

Indiana hasn’t won a ton of games under Kevin Wilson but it’s clear that the program is committed to their guy. Wilson got the Hoosiers to a bowl game and enters 2016 with the eighth-best roster in the league — up two spots from 10th last year. The East Division is a bloodbath but Indiana has the right guy in Wilson and it’s nice to see the program commit to him.


Interim Concerns

Despite pockets of historical success, it’s hard to win at Minnesota and Illinois in the modern recruiting era. And elevating interim coaches to full-time positions isn’t normally the way to go about building a program. Bill Cubit feels like a stop gap at Illinois and Tracy Claeys doesn’t bring a lot of upside to the table in Minneapolis. Both may be excellent coordinators but both will have to prove themselves in a big way on the recruiting trail before new athletic directors get to town.


College Football Podcast: 2016 Coaching Carousel

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

Ranking the Big Ten's Football Rosters for 2016
Post date: Friday, February 12, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, Magazines
Path: /nascar/dale-earnhardt-jr-2016-nascar-scouting-report-and-fantasy-preview

The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. checks in at No. 7 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:


Scouting Report


“Dale Jr., for me, is a lot like Matt Kenseth. And they’re close friends. Junior is getting better as he gets older, also,” a former crew chief says.


“I think what has benefited a lot of these drivers as they get older is that we’re in a new era where the best organizations have four cars. In other words, you look at Joe Gibbs (Racing) and they’ve got four cars now. Hendrick (Motorsports) has four cars. And when Junior looks at his teammates, they’re all health freaks,” a former driver says. “Even Jeff Gordon last year, he was 44 and he’s got the same damn body frame that he’s had for years. Unfortunately, (Gordon’s) back is a little weaker than most. But the point is that when Dale Jr. looks around him, it’s motivated him to get a lot better because he’s surrounded by better people. And that’s going to make him better for longer.”


“He’s another driver getting up in the 40s and he’s running better,” a former crew chief says. “He has surrounded himself with the greatest teammates in NASCAR history, and they’re all physically fit. He’s also another guy who has found true love off the track, and I think he’s a lot like Kyle Busch there. His health is better, but men also can change for the better with true love and happiness. … It makes for a better man — and a better driver, too.”



Fantasy Stall


Seeing the air:  Earnhardt’s former restrictor plate magic has returned over the past two seasons. Following in the footsteps of his father, Junior now has 10 combined victories at Daytona and Talladega. Last season he posted two victories, an average finish of 1.8 and did what most viewed as impossible: miss the “Big One” four times.


Intermediate Excellence:  He didn’t score a victory on them last season, but Earnhardt has never been better on NASCAR’s most raced-on tracks: 1.5 to 2-mile “cookie-cutter” ovals. Here were his results on them, in chronological order: 3rd, 4th, 6th, 3rd, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, 21st, 10th, 12th, 28th, 21st, 6th, 40th. Using him early and often at tracks such as Atlanta, Las Vegas and Fontana bodes well for your fantasy hopes.


No Brickyard glory here:  Earnhardt has just one career top-5 finish at Indianapolis (4th in 2012). It’s a good race to bench him.


Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 2016 NASCAR Scouting Report and Fantasy Preview
Post date: Friday, February 12, 2016 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, Magazines
Path: /magazines/kurt-busch-2016-nascar-scouting-report-and-fantasy-preview

The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.


Kurt Busch checks in at No. 8 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:


Scouting Report


“Both of the Busch brothers are absolute wheelmen. It’s incredible,” one former driver says. “I haven’t seen a brother combo like that in NASCAR. It’s way stronger than the Labontes (Terry and Bobby). They’re all champions, now that Kyle has won one, too, but the Busch brothers have won way more races than the Labontes ever did.”


“We all know about Kurt’s well-documented temper problems. He obviously is his own worst enemy all too often, and sometimes how he handles success is more important than how he deals with setbacks,” says one industry insider who has witnessed many Busch blowups. “But he did a fantastic job last year, making the Chase after being suspended for the first three races. For a while we even wondered if he’d race at all, and when he came back, he absolutely put on a show those first few races.


“Then again, no one has ever questioned his ability to drive. Maybe seeing the way Kyle has matured will eventually help him mature in the same way, although he’s always going to have that edge about him. In a weird sort of way, though, it’s part of what makes him so great behind the wheel. He seems to have found a home at Stewart-Haas Racing, where he’s in top-notch equipment, and Tony Gibson is a good fit for him as a crew chief. They like to say they’re a good fit because they’re both ‘old-school racers,’ and that is absolutely correct.”



Fantasy Stall


A New Man? Busch, known for an aggressive driving style, went through all 33 races last season without a DNF. That’s the first time he’s done so since going 7-for-7 as a part-time Cup rookie in 2000. With top-quality equipment provided by Hendrick Motorsports, look for this accomplishment to become a trend, not an aberration.


Fontana Fury: Busch has run third twice at the two-mile California oval since joining his No. 41 team in 2014. Robbed of a victory there by a late caution last season, he’ll be out for redemption. It’s only one race, but Busch is a “must start” here.


Road Course Warrior: The last time Busch finished outside the top 12 at a road course? 2012. Brother Kyle may have two wins during that stretch (2013-15), but it’s Kurt who has both more consistency and a higher average finish (5.8).


Trouble…   Keep in mind that Kurt’s missed at least one race for off-track incidents twice in the last four seasons. There’s always a risk.


Kurt Busch: 2016 NASCAR Scouting Report and Fantasy Preview
Post date: Friday, February 12, 2016 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NBA
Path: /nba/kevin-durant-breaks-down-talking-about-monty-williams-emotional-thunder-pelicans-ingrid

Oklahoma City assistant coach Monty Williams suffered a tragedy when his wife Ingrid passed away after being involved in a car accident. 


The entire Thunder organization is understandably shaken by the events. During Thursday's practice, Kevin Durant was asked about Williams and his family but was barely able to get the words out. 



Anthony Morrow also had something to say about the marriage of the Williams. Morrow played under Williams in New Orleans. 



Ingrid Williams is survived by her husband, Monty, and their five children.  

Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 14:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-podcast-16-coaching-carousel

Braden Gall, Mitch Light and Steven Lassan break down every major coaching change in college football. The guys cover every head coaching and major assistant change in the Power 5 conferences and one name dominates the mid-major carousel ranks.


- Did the ACC win the off-season as far as coaching changes go?


- Is Justin Fuente the best hire of the year? Will Syracuse be fun to watch under Dino Babers? And what will happen with Mark Richt in Miami?


- Can Matt Campbell compete in the Big 12?


- Is Charlie Strong's job on the line with Sterlin Gilbert?


- Is Clay Helton ready for USC expectations?


- Will a staff overhaul work for Oregon?


- WIll either interim hire in the Big Ten West work out long term?


- Can either first time head man in the East break through?


- The Big Ten lost some big time assistants but also made some huge hires as well.


- The SEC swapped experience for new blood in the East, so which new head coach needs to win the soonest?


- LSU, Tennessee and Alabama made critical defensive hires (while Auburn did not).


- How awesome is Willie Fritz at Tulane?



Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall @AthlonMitch or @DavidFox615 or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on and our podcast RSS feed.

College Football Podcast: '16 Coaching Carousel
Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 14:17
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/jim-fassel-gold-cleats-cam-newton-mvp-under-armour-super-bowl-panthers-soft

This is a first. The color of ones cleats can apparently determine the outcome of a game.


Former Giants coach Jim Fassel says he knew the Panthers were going to lose the Super Bowl when he saw Cam Newton warming up in gold "MVP cleats. The cleats, given to him sponsor Under Armour, were only worn during warmups as players usually do since they aren't allowed to wear certain pairs during the game. Fassel said he originally picked the Panthers to win but once he saw those cleats, it was a different ball game.


"When I saw Cam Newton walk out in gold shoes, MVP, I switched my mind, essentially right then," Fassel said. "I said, 'That's not what a starting quarterback, MVP, leading his team, and I had a lot of respect for him during the season, that's not what happens.' You don't do that."

This wasn't the first time Newton wore a custom pair of cleats during warmups, so it shouldn't be shocking that he had them on before the Super Bowl. Guys so heavily in routine are not going to change for a big game like that.


Fassel went on to say the shoes made Newton "soft". It doesn't really make sense because it's not like he had them on during the game and he gave it his all, but different people come away with different perceptions. 


In any event, let it be a lesson to everyone... gold makes you soft.

Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 10:55
Path: /college-football/ranking-pac-12s-football-rosters-2016

The sky is blue, the Earth is round and when you have better players, you win more games.


Certainly, winning big in college football takes great coaching, enormous support staffs, state-of-the-art training facilities and plenty of luck. But whoever has the most talented roster, has a head start in the race for conference and national championships. 


National Signing Day 2016 gave us more than 4,000 new players to root for and track over the next four or five seasons. So which teams are in the best shape for 2016?


College Football Podcast: 2016 National Signing Day Recap

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Below are the national recruiting ranking averages for Pac-12 schools over the last five classes according to 247Sports Team Composite rankings and each team's record over the last five seasons. Obviously, this doesn't take into account attrition but, over time, this should be considered relatively even across the conference.


Ranking the Pac-12's College Football's Rosters in 2016:




What did we learn?


Fight On, Clay

Clay Helton was an unusual hire. He appears to be a quality offensive mind and he proved on National Signing Day that he knows how to close an elite class. USC once again landed the best class in the Pac-12 and once again will enter a season with the league's most talented roster. Which is why Helton, who will also have a new boss soon, has precious little time to win. His roster is back over 80 scholarships and is the sixth-best collection of talent in the nation  — well ahead of anyone else in the conference.


Related: 5 Takeaways from the USC Trojans' 2016 Recruiting Class


The Next Step

Jim Mora has won a bunch of games in Westwood but fans are beginning to wonder about the next step (or if their coach wants to be there). But UCLA moved past Oregon as the second-most talented roster in the league for 2016. After three top-12 classes in four cycles and five straight top-20 hauls, Mora now boasts the No. 13-rated roster in the nation, including the nation’s best pure passer in Josh Rosen. The time is now for the Bruins.


The Battle for the North

The Ducks and Cardinals have dominated the Pac-12 Championship Game since its inception and have won an absurd 111 combined games in the last five years. But as far as talent goes, Washington and Chris Petersen are nipping at their heels. Oregon (19th), Stanford (21st) and Washington (25th) all boast top 25 rosters nationally and are well ahead of the rest of the North Division in terms of talent. Catching up will be no easy task, however, as David Shaw just landed his third top-20 class in five cycles. This is a fun division to track for a reason.


What is a Ute?

With all due respect to Judge Haller, it’s a helluva football team. Few coaches have gotten more out of less than Kyle Whittingham. But, much like other recently elevated programs like TCU and Louisville, that “less” is getting better and better. This cycle Utah landed its second-best class (36th) of the last decade (32nd in 2010) and its best since entering the Pac-12. With his ability to develop talent, it won’t be long before Whittingham’s talent begins to match his win total.

Related: 5 Takeaways from the Utah Utes' 2016 Recruiting Class


Sonny Side Up

Cal has gotten dramatically better under Sonny Dykes and it’s shown on the recruiting trail. Dykes has landed back-to-back top-40 classes after winning eight games for the first time since 2009. This roster needs to continue to take dramatic steps before it can consistently compete in the North, but things are looking up in Berkeley. That is, as long as Dykes still resides there (looking at you, Michael Williams).


The South’s Top Challenger

Todd Graham’s Sun Devils slipped a bit in 2015 but with three consecutive top-30 classes in a row, Arizona State is well within reach of UCLA and USC in the South. The 28.8 average class ranking for this ASU roster is the line of demarcation in the conference between the top half and the bottom. The Sun Devils are one of six Pac-12 schools whose roster lands among the top 30 in the nation while the rest of the league falls outside of the top 40. Graham should have his squad back in contention quickly.

Ranking the Pac-12's Football Rosters for 2016
Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/peyton-manning-talks-eli-awkward-super-bowl-face-jimmy-fallon-broncos

By now we've all seen Eli Manning's awkward Super Bowl face.


Although the younger Manning swears he was just internalizing the next steps for the Broncos to keep the lead, people are still discussing his emotionless face. Older brother, Peyton, talked to Jimmy Fallon about the face, and how he's just gotten used to it over the years. Maybe that's just how Eli shows excitement. 


Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 10:19
All taxonomy terms: Alabama Crimson Tide, College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/ranking-best-seasons-running-back-alabama-history

There’s a new favorite number around Tuscaloosa these days. It’s 16. As in 16 national championships won by the Alabama Crimson Tide following their Jan. 11 victory over the Clemson Tigers to claim the second College Football Playoff.


Yes, it was a memorable 2015 season for Alabama. And it was a memorable 2015 season for record-setting and Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry. In fact, based on his numbers and the team’s success, no Alabama back has ever had a finer season than the one Henry just completed.


Wondering, though, how the seasons of other Crimson Tide ball carriers might stack up behind Henry’s? Well, wonder no more.

In keeping with Alabama’s new favorite number, here are the 16 best seasons by a running back in program history.


1. Derrick Henry, 2015

The best season ever by an Alabama running back? It just happened. Henry ran for an SEC-record 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns to bring the Crimson Tide not only their second Heisman Trophy but also a 16th national championship. The defensive end-sized running back with defensive back-caliber speed tied Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson with four 200-yard rushing efforts in one season.


2. Trent Richardson, 2011

Richardson’s final college campaign wasn’t topped off with a Heisman, but it came close. The Florida native finished third in Heisman balloting after rushing for a then school-record 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns. Alabama won its 14th national title that season, thanks in large part to its workhorse.


3. Mark Ingram, 2009

Ingram produced a breakout sophomore season in 2009 to become Alabama’s first Heisman winner. The punishing ball carrier rushed for a then school-record 1,658 yards and 17 touchdowns, as he helped power the Crimson Tide to its 13th national championship.


4. Shaun Alexander, 1999

Alexander may well have been Alabama’s first Heisman winner in 1999 had it not been for an ankle injury that slowed the eye-opening season he was having. Alexander did come back after the injury and finished with an impressive 1,383 yards rushing and a then school-record 19 touchdowns (in 11 games), as he helped carry the Tide to an SEC title and an Orange Bowl berth.


5. Bobby Humphrey, 1986

Humphrey turned out to be the best player on a star-studded 1986 Alabama team that was ranked No. 2 in the preseason. The Tide failed to live up to expectations, dropping three games along the way, but Humphrey did his part, rushing for a then school-record 1,471 yards and 15 touchdowns.


6. Eddie Lacy, 2012

After taking a backseat to Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson early in this career, Lacy finally got to show what he could do as the lead back for Alabama in 2012. And he showed plenty. The bruising (6-0, 220) back rushed for 1,322 yards and 17 touchdowns in helping lead the Tide to their 15th national championship.


7. Siran Stacy, 1989

Alabama came out of nowhere in 1989 to capture a share of the SEC title and earn a Sugar Bowl berth, and a big reason why was the play of Stacy. The transfer from Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College was a touchdown machine for the Tide in ’89, crossing the goal line 17 times. He rushed for 1,079 yards.


8. Glen Coffee, 2008

Coffee helped jumpstart the Nick Saban Alabama dynasty in 2008 by rushing for 1,383 yards and 10 touchdowns. Coffee was one of the keys as the Crimson Tide went from a 7-6 team the year before to undefeated entering the SEC Championship Game, which they lost to eventual national champion Florida.


9. Shaud Williams, 2003

Williams turned out to be a huge bright spot on an otherwise disappointing 2003 Alabama team that won just four games. Williams, a senior who transferred from Texas Tech a year earlier, broke out in a big way in his second season in Tuscaloosa, rushing for 1,367 yards and 14 touchdowns.


10. T.J. Yeldon, 2013

After steamrolling through the regular season in quest of a third straight national title, Alabama stumbled down the stretch. The disappointing finish, however, couldn’t take away from the season Yeldon had in his first opportunity as Alabama’s feature back. The sophomore rushed for 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns.


11. Johnny Musso, 1971

Musso helped set the foundation for Alabama becoming the team of the 1970s with a memorable ’71 campaign. The Italian Stallion rushed for 1,088 yards and 16 touchdowns in Bear Bryant’s first wishbone offense, as the Tide finished 11-1 and won the SEC.


12. Sherman Williams, 1994

Alabama was seeking its second national title in three years and nearly got it, finishing 12-1 with its lone loss, a one-point defeat, coming to Florida in the SEC title game. Williams paced Bama’s ground attack, rushing for 1,341 yards and eight touchdowns.


13. Bobby Humphrey, 1987

This wasn’t close to being one of Alabama’s better teams, but Humphrey gave Tide fans plenty to cheer about in 1987. He rushed for 1,255 yards and 11 touchdowns and starred in the upset of defending national champ Penn State.


14. Dennis Riddle, 1996

He wasn’t flashy, but Riddle definitely produced when toting the pigskin. He rushed for 1,079 yards and 11 touchdowns in helping lead the ‘96 team to a Western Division crown and a spot in the SEC Championship Game for the fourth time in five years.


15. Derrick Lassic, 1992

The No. 1-ranked defense is what people remember most about Alabama’s 1992 national title team, but the ground-oriented offense wasn’t too shabby either. Lassic was the lead back, rushing for 905 yards and 10 touchdowns.


16. Ken Darby, 2005

It was a magical first two months of the season for the 2005 Crimson Tide team, which started 9-0 before dropping a couple games late. Even though he had just three rushing touchdowns, Darby paved the way, picking up 1,242 yards on the ground.


— Written by Erik Stinnett, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Stinnett is an experienced college football beat writer who has been covering Alabama since 2009.

Ranking the Best Seasons by a Running Back in Alabama History
Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Video, NFL, NBA, Overtime
Path: /overtime/peyton-manning-magic-johnson-play-egg-russian-roulette-jimmy-fallon

What's the point of knowing all these athletes if you can't put them through a little torture?


Jimmy Fallon enlisted the help of Super Bowl champ Peyton Manning and NBA legend Magic Johnson to play a little game of "Egg Russian Roulette". Oh yes, it is a thing. Who would've thought that stars hitting eggs over their heads could be so funny?



This seems like a fun (and less dangerous) way to play Russian Roulette.

Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 09:47
All taxonomy terms: Peyton Manning, NFL
Path: /nfl/peyton-manning-should-retire-super-bowl-champion

Had Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos lost to the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50, you could understand why the soon-to-be 40-year-old quarterback could contemplate a return in 2016. As everyone knows, the Broncos defeated the Panthers 24-10 and Manning won the second Lombardi Trophy of his career.


So after becoming the oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl, Manning knows what he needs to do. He can take his time to decide, but he probably already knows in his mind it is time for the 18-year veteran to retire.


If anyone watched the Super Bowl, you saw how far away he is from the player that he was in 2013 when he threw for 55 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions. To say Manning's Super Bowl stats were mediocre would be putting it mildly, as he had 13 completions on 23 attempts for 141 passing yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. 


Father time started to pay Manning late in 2014 when he threw 11 touchdowns against eight touchdowns in his final eight starts (including playoffs). Many pointed to his late-season injury as the reason for his decline, but that was the beginning of the end for Manning.


After being beaten up, booed and even benched in 2015, it is hard to see any scenario where Manning should continue playing.


Sure, Manning would have a select few choices of suitors should he want to play one more season. The Los Angeles Rams, Houston Texans and the Cleveland Browns all need help at the quarterback position but are any of those teams just a quarterback away from contending?


Manning should have a similar ending as his boss, Broncos executive vice president of football operations and general manager John Elway, did in 1998. After starting his career 0-3 in Super Bowls, Elway and the Broncos won two straight Super Bowls. Elway took some time before announcing his decision in May 1999.


Manning won't likely take as long as Elway did as the Broncos would likely need to know his decision before the beginning of the new league year on March 9. After Sunday's satisfying victory against the Panthers, Manning said he got some advice about his future from a familiar source.


“I don’t know the answer to that,” Manning said. “I talked to (former Indianapolis coach) Tony Dungy last week and he said that he got some good advice from Dick Vermeil and I think maybe Bill Cowher as well about not making an emotional decision one way or the other. So I think that was good advice to kind of let this sink in. It’s been an emotional week, emotional night, and the night is just beginning. I look forward to celebrating with my friends and family and I think I’ll take some time after that. Like I said, I am going to enjoy the night, take it one step at a time.”


Manning's place in history is secure. He is arguably one of the top three quarterbacks ever to play the game. When talking about the best quarterbacks of all time Joe Montana and Tom Brady are likely the top two choices on most lists.


Related: 25 Greatest Quarterbacks in NFL History


Without a second Super Bowl championship. there possibly would have been a question about Manning's place on the list but there's hardly any debate now.


No one would want Manning to have a sad ending for another team much like Johnny Unitas with the San Diego Chargers or Joe Namath with the Rams.


After holding a number of NFL passing records and becoming now the only quarterback to win the Super Bowl for two different teams, there's isn't any reason for Manning to return in 2016.


Manning's father, Archie, doesn't know what his son is going to do, but he believes his son has played his last game in Denver. 


"I think Peyton's done in Denver," Archie Manning told NFL Network after Denver's win. "I think Peyton's done in Denver. He may be done everywhere. I don't know that. But that's my guess."


Not many players have had a chance to go out on top after winning a championship. Manning should retire as a two-time Super Bowl champion and an all-time great and never look back.


— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, Pro Player Insiders and is a reporter for Sports Talk Florida. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.


(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

Peyton Manning Should Retire a Super Bowl Champion
Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/worst-officiating-moments-sports-history-2016

Officiating in any sport is a difficult assignment. Mistakes are going to be made each week, but some errors are bigger than others. There have been numerous bad calls in sports history, but we rounded up some of the worst in recent memory. The Green Bay-Seattle "Fail Mary" is one of the more memorable mistakes by officials, and the 2015 college football season featured the infamous kickoff return in the Miami-Duke contest. 


Here's a look at some of the memorable and worst officiating moments in sports history.


Worst Officiating Moments in Sports History


2015: Miami Defeats Duke After Botched Replay on Kickoff Return

The 2015 college football season had its share of must-see moments, but the craziest play was Miami’s kickoff return in the final seconds to defeat Duke. The Hurricanes used eight laterals to keep the ball alive, with the return eventually landing in the hands of Corn Elder for a 91-yard score. The referees went to the replay system to check for any forward laterals or to see if the returner had a knee down on the return. After a lengthy review, the officials let the touchdown stand. However, replays showed Miami’s Mark Walton was down before a lateral, the officiating crew missed an illegal block in the back and a few players spilling onto the field from the Hurricanes’ bench while the play was still in motion. The officials from this game were suspended two ACC contests due to the errors made on Miami’s kickoff return. 



2013: Buffalo Awarded Safety on Intentional Grounding 

Midweek MAC games are one of the more entertaining parts of college football’s November schedule. However, the Buffalo-Ohio game from Tuesday night won’t be remembered for a quality game between two potential bowl teams. Instead, awful officiating will overshadow Buffalo’s 30-3 win.


Early in the second half, Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton was pressured out of the pocket and threw a pass to avoid a sack, which resulted in an intentional grounding call. However, the referees ruled Tettleton was in the endzone, and Buffalo was awarded a safety.


But there’s only one problem: Tettleton wasn’t in the endzone – he was on the four-yard line.



2012: Green Bay vs. Seattle: Golden Tate’s Hail Mary "Catch"

Replacement officials made plenty of glaring errors through the first three weeks of the 2012 NFL season but none bigger than the one that occurred between the Seattle-Green Bay matchup on Monday night. With the Seahawks trailing 12-7 with seconds remaining, quarterback Russell Wilson heaved a pass to the corner of the endzone, which appeared to be intercepted by Green Bay defensive back M.D. Jennings. However, the officials ruled Seattle receiver Golden Tate wrestled away control and award the catch to the Seahawks. Making matters worse for Green Bay, Tate clearly pushed off on a defensive back, which allowed him to get into position for the catch.



2001: Tuck Rule – Oakland vs. New England in AFC Divisional Playoffs

It’s not unusual for the rules to be changed, tweaked or adjusted from season to season, depending upon the circumstances. For the most part, the changes go largely unnoticed unless something happens to bring them into the spotlight. That was certainly the case in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoffs as the entire world was introduced to what would become known simply as the “Tuck Rule.” Playing in a driving snowstorm at home, New England trailed Oakland 13-10 in the fourth quarter with less than two minutes remaining. Still out of field goal range, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dropped back to pass and dropped the football after being hit. The Raiders recovered and seemingly put an end to the Patriots’ hopes. However, upon further review, referee Walt Coleman reversed the call on the field of a fumble, according to the “Tuck Rule,” which was introduced in 1999. Coleman explained on national TV that Brady had started to throw a forward pass and then lost possession of the ball as he was trying to bring it back, tuck it, into his body. The overturned call made it an incomplete pass and Brady was able to put Adam Vinatieri into position to make a game-tying 45-yard field goal with 27 seconds left on the clock. The Patriots would go on to win in overtime and eventually capture the first of their four Super Bowl titles during the 2000s.



1972: Russia vs. United States Olympic Basketball Gold Medal Game

The United States Olympic basketball team entered the 1972 Games in Munich having never suffered a loss in the history of the Games, and it looked as if their streak would continue with a 50-49 win over the Soviets in the gold medal game. The officials had other ideas. In perhaps the most controversial sports ending ever, the Soviets got three attempts to score. After two questionable clock resettings, a length-of the floor pass was thrown to Alexander Belov, who made a layup at the buzzer for what remains in the record books a 51-50 win — even if the members of the U.S. team refuse to acknowledge it.



1999: Pittsburgh vs. Detroit: Thanksgiving Day Coin Toss

Normally, the refs’ eyesight is called into question, but on Thanksgiving Day 1999, an official’s hearing was the issue. As the Steelers-Lions game headed into overtime, Luckett conducted the coin toss. Steelers captain Jerome Bettis called “tails,” but somehow Luckett heard “heads,” awarding possession to the Lions, who took advantage and won the game. The blunder caused the league to change its coin toss procedure — too little, too late for the Steelers.


2010: Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga’s Near-Perfect Game

Detroit starter Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game on June 2, 2010 in Comerica Park against Cleveland when the Indians Jason Donald stepped up to the plate. Donald hit an easy grounder to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera who flipped the ball to Galaragga covering first, only to watch helplessly as first base umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled Donald safe. Galaragga would retire the next batter for the one-hit shutout, but in the minds of the Tigers team and fans in attendance, the damage had already been done. After the game, Joyce willingly and profusely admitted his mistake and took it upon himself to personally apologize to Galaragga. Both men deserve credit for how each of them handled the situation, as they will be forever linked because of it.



2011: Jerry Meals’ Bad Call at Home Ends 19-inning marathon between Braves and Pirates

No one wants to see any baseball game end on a bad call at home, let alone one that lasted 19 innings, but that’s what happened in Atlanta on July 26, 2011. Actually, the game didn’t officially end until July 27 as the Braves and Pirates started on Tuesday night and played into the early hours of Wednesday morning to settle this one. And in the end, the only reason it ended in the bottom of the 19th was because home plate umpire Jerry Meals egregiously called Julio Lugo safe at home although Pirates catcher Michael McKenry clearly applied the tag before Lugo’s foot crossed the plate. What exactly Meals saw only he can answer, but all you need to do is listen to the contrasting calls by the teams’ respective broadcasts and realize that there’s little doubt he missed this one.


1990: The Fifth Down Game – Colorado at Missouri

The Buffaloes claimed a share of the 1990 national championship with Georgia Tech, but the season was overshadowed by a controversial finish against Missouri. Colorado was awarded a fifth down late in the game, which allowed it to score the game-winning touchdown. Quarterback Charles Johnson spiked the ball on first down, while running back Eric Bieniemy was stopped at the one-yard line on second down. On third down, Bieniemy was stopped at the goal-line, which forced Johnson to spike the ball on “fourth down”. However, Johnson’s spike on first down apparently went unnoticed, as the Buffaloes scored on a touchdown run on "fifth down" to seal the victory. The Buffaloes went on to finish the year with an 11-1 record and a 10-9 victory over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl.



1979: Mike Renfro Ruled out of Bounds in 1979 AFC Championship Game

The Pittsburgh Steelers were the NFL’s team of the 1970s winning four Super Bowls in a span of six seasons (1974-79). The team they defeated to get to the last two during this run was the Houston Oilers. While the Oilers put up little resistance in the 1978 AFC Championship Game, losing 34-5, it’s the one that took place the following season that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Oilers fans. Leading 17-10 in the third quarter, Houston wide receiver Mike Renfro appeared to put the Oilers in a position to tie the game, when he made an incredible catch in the back corner of the end zone. Television replays confirmed the catch, but the officials, who did not have the benefit of instant replay back then, ruled it an incompletion. The Oilers had to settle for a field goal and the Steelers would go on to a 27-13 victory.


1991: Kent Hrbek’s “Hard Tag” on Ron Gant in World Series

Who says baseball is not a contact sport? In Game 2 of the 1991 World Series Minnesota first baseman Kent Hrbek and Atlanta outfielder Ron Gant were involved in a play that not only would have made a wreslter proud, but turned out to a be a pivotal play when all was said and done. Trailing by one run in the top of the third, Gant singled to left off of Twins starter Kevin Tapani to seemingly put runners on first and third with two outs and David Justice on deck. The throw from the outfield rolled away from the fielder briefly, however, resulting in Gant taking a fairly wide turn around first. After retrieving the ball, Tapani threw to Hrbek at first in hopes of catching Gant off base. Even though Gant made it safely back to the bag before Hrbek could apply the tag; the burly first baseman lifted Gant off of the first all the while keeping his glove on Gant. Umpire Drew Coble called Gant out, ending the Braves’ threat, and the Twins would go on to win Game 2 by one run, 3-2, and the World Series in seven. Tapani made the out possible by throwing back to first, with Hrbek receiving two points for a textbook takedown.


1998: Seahawks vs. Jets – Vinny Testaverde’s "Touchdown"

Although the Seahawks benefitted from a blown call on Monday night, they were the victim of poor officiating in 1998. In an early December matchup in New York, Seattle lost 32-31 on a phantom touchdown run by Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde. With no instant reply, the Seahawks were unable to challenge the call, even though it was clear Testaverde never crossed the goal-line.


1986: World Cup: Argentina vs. England

The 1986 World Cup Finals between Argentina and England was one of the most incredible soccer matches in the history of the sport, due in no small part to Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal. Maradona punched the ball with his left hand past the English keeper and into the goal during Argentina’s 2-1 win, and referee Ali Bin Nasser failed to see the infraction. Afterward, Maradona famously commented that his goal came “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God,” and the phrase entered the sports lexicon.


1985: Cardinals-Royals World Series

The Cardinals were three outs away from winning the 1985 World Series, when umpire Don Denkinger infamously intervened. The Cardinals led the Royals three games to two and took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning of Game 6. The inning's leadoff batter, Jorge Orta, sent a chopper to first baseman Jack Clark, who tossed the ball to pitcher Todd Worrell at first base, clearly beating Orta by a half-step. Clearly, that is, to everyone but Denkinger, who called Orta safe, leading to a two-run rally. The Royals went on to win Game 7 over the deflated Cards 11-0.


2006: Oregon vs. Oklahoma: Onside Kick Error

The Sooners suffered a huge blow to their national title hopes in 2006, as bad officiating cost Oklahoma a win in Eugene. The Sooners led 33-20 with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but Oregon scored on a 16-yard touchdown run by Dennis Dixon with just over a minute to go. The Ducks recovered the onside kick, but replay clearly showed the kick hit one of their players before going 10 yards. Although instant replay was used, Oregon kept the ball, and Dennis Dixon hit Brian Paysinger for a 23-yard touchdown pass to win the game. The officials from the Oklahoma-Oregon matchup were suspended one game due to the missed calls late in the fourth quarter.



1979: Rose Bowl – USC vs. Michigan: Charles White’s "Touchdown"

The 1979 Rose Bowl matchup was a much-anticipated game between two top-five teams. USC entered the 1979 Rose Bowl at 11-1, while Michigan was 10-1. In the second quarter, Charles White appeared to score, which would give USC a 14-3 lead. However, a closer look revealed White fumbled before he reached the endzone and was incorrectly ruled a touchdown by the officiating crew. Considering the final score was 17-10, the “touchdown” proved to be the difference and propelled USC to a finish of No. 1 in the UPI poll.


1999: Dallas vs. Buffalo Stanley Cup: Goal or No Goal?

Brett Hull of the Dallas Stars scored the Stanley Cup series-clinching goal in triple overtime of game six against the Buffalo Sabres. Too bad it was apparently illegal, even if the officials allowed it to stand. When Hull scored, his foot was in the crease, but the puck was not — a no-no, even though the NHL tried a semantics tap-dance around the issue by claiming they had issued a memo allowing goals when the scorer had control of the puck prior to his skate entering the crease. The Sabres' reply? "No goal," which became the franchise rallying cry. 


Honorable Mention


2005: Florida vs. Vanderbilt – Earl Bennett’s “Celebration Penalty”

Winning at Florida is never easy for any team in the SEC, but Vanderbilt’s last win in Gainesville occurred in 1945. The Commodores were on the verge of an upset victory in 2005, as Jay Cutler hit receiver Earl Bennett on a six-yard touchdown pass with less than one minute to go to bring Vanderbilt within one point. The Commodores were prepared to go for two, however, the officials flagged Bennett for excessive celebration, which forced the Commodores to kick the extra point and play for overtime. Bennett’s penalty is one of the most egregious celebration flags in recent memory and prevented Vanderbilt from a two-point conversion that could have won and allowed the Commodores to get bowl eligible. 


1999: Chuck Knoblauch’s Phantom Tag in ALCS

The Red Sox were trailing the Yankees by one when they batted in the bottom of the eighth in Game 4 of the 1999 ALCS. With one out, Jose Offerman singled off of Andy Pettitte to seemingly start a rally. It was quickly snuffed out, however, when John Valentin grounded into an inning-ending double play, one that was made possible by Knoblauch’s now-infamous “Phantom Tag” of Offerman at second, with an assist from second base umpire Tim Tschida. The Yankees would go on to score six more runs in the top of the ninth to put the game away and then put the Red Sox away in with a series-clinching win the next night in Fenway Park. The hated Yankees would break the hearts or Red Sox nation yet again in the 2003 ALCS, this time in seven games, before exacting some revenge the next year in a season that would finally put an end to the “Curse of the Bambino” after 86 years.

The Worst Officiating Moments in Sports History 2016
Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, Magazines
Path: /magazines/denny-hamlin-2016-nascar-scouting-report-and-fantasy-preview

The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.


Denny Hamiln checks in at No. 9 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:


Scouting Report


“Denny’s an emotional guy,” says an industry insider. “That helps when he’s running well. But what if he feels his job is threatened as the 2016 season progresses? Any hint Erik Jones is taking his spot could turn into a major distraction quickly for a driver who tends to lose confidence at a moment’s notice.”


“There were times early last year when you actually wondered for a moment if time was running out on Denny at Joe Gibbs Racing,” says another insider. “And trust me, there are times when he gets on some nerves over there. But he’s also very talented and proved it again by making the Chase, then winning the first race in it. This Chase elimination format actually might suit Hamlin more than most going forward, for it allows him to be a bit inconsistent in the Chase and still advance — like he did when he got to the final four at Homestead in 2014. Don’t be surprised if it happens again, even if there are a few more of the inevitable bumps in the road along the way.”



Fantasy Stall


Slow Down! Only rookie Jeb Burton incurred more speeding penalties on pit road than Hamlin’s seven last season. Once Hamlin earns a Chase spot, a push back to 25th after a penalty call gives him less incentive in the “regular season” to work his way toward the front.


Hometown Zero? Hamlin was once known for dominating the proceedings at the two Virginia tracks on the NASCAR circuit: Richmond and Martinsville. But the native of the Old Dominion has won just once on those tracks in the last five years, posting a more pedestrian average finish of 12.2 during that stretch.


One-Hit Wonder: Some of Hamlin’s best finishes last year came at ovals the Cup Series visits only once. He won Chicagoland, was third at Darlington and Kentucky, and ran fifth at both Las Vegas and Indianapolis. Add in a pole at Homestead, and it’s a weird quirk to remember for 2016.


Denny Hamlin: 2016 NASCAR Scouting Report and Fantasy Preview
Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR, Magazines
Path: /magazines/carl-edwards-2016-nascar-scouting-report-and-fantasy-preview

The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.


Carl Edwards checks in at No. 10 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:


Scouting Report


“It’s surprising Edwards and crew chief Darian Grubb didn’t win more races in their year together at Joe Gibbs Racing (in 2015),” one industry insider says. “They won two, and they were big ones (the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte and the Southern 500 at Darlington), but it just never seemed like the team really got the momentum flowing the positive direction like I thought they would. They weren’t consistently fast, and a lot of times they were the slowest of the four Gibbs cars. I think a lot of people thought they’d come out of the gate at JGR winning like five or six races and being one of the fastest cars. That didn’t really happen and it makes you wonder why.”


“Carl is an old dog. He knows everything he needs to do,” a former crew chief says. “He’s a fast racecar driver and he’s with a fast team. He needs to find a crew chief that fits his style. He needs to get that sorted out. Carl is so good that it shouldn’t take even one year to get him up to speed. So right now I think he’s an old dog looking for new tricks.”



Fantasy Stall


A Tale of Two Seasons: Carl Edwards scored two top-5 finishes and one win in the season’s first 18 races while adjusting to the new No. 19 team at Joe Gibbs Racing. During the last 18 races? He scored five top 5s, came within a few points of making the championship Final Four at Homestead and never finished worse than 15th.


Southern Darling: Edwards scored his first victory at Darlington last September and has six straight top-15 finishes at the Lady In Black. Add in a fourth at Kentucky, NASCAR’s other major test of the 2016 rules package, and it’s safe to say Edwards should be a top pick on your roster for intermediates.


Short Track Struggles: Edwards went the whole season without a top-5 finish at the Bristol-Martinsville-Richmond trifecta. He also hasn’t scored a top 5 at Martinsville since 2008. JGR has a great short track program, but it’ll take time.


Carl Edwards: 2016 NASCAR Scouting Report and Fantasy Preview
Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Magazines
Path: /magazines/athlon-sports-2016-college-baseball-preseason-top-25

The last decade or so has been the golden age of Florida baseball. The Gators have reached the College World Series five times since 2005, reaching the final series twice in that span. Before this run, primarily under coach Kevin O’Sullivan, the Gators had been to Omaha just four times in their history.


Something, though, is missing. Florida has yet to add a baseball championship to an athletic program trophy case that has titles eight sports in the last decade, including football, men’s basketball and softball.


No question, O’Sullivan’s team in 2016 is built for a run at Omaha with a loaded pitching staff and core of offensive talent.


With college basketball starting up next week, here’s a look at Athlon’s preseason top 25 and All-America team.


This article and rankings of high school and college prospects can be found in the Athlon Sports 2016 Baseball Preview, available now on newsstands everywhere.


1. Florida (52–18, 19–11 SEC)

The amount of talent in Gainesville is almost unfair. RHP Logan Shore (11–6, 2.72) and LHP A.J. Puk (9–4, 3.81) lead seven pitchers who had a 4.02 ERA or lower. Freshman All-America catcher JJ Schwarz (.332-18-73) and OF Buddy Reed (.305, 18 SBs) head up a potent offense. As if that’s not enough, the No. 1-ranked recruiting class is chock full of talent, including nine MLB draft picks.


2. Louisville (47–18, 25–5 ACC)

The Cards got a shot in the arm when supplemental first-round draft pick Kyle Funkhouser (8–5, 3.20, 104 Ks) decided to return for his senior year. He joins two-way stud Brendan McKay (9–3, 1.77, 117 Ks and .308-4-34) and All-America candidates OF Corey Ray (.325-11-56, 34 SBs) and RHP Zack Burdi (6–1, 0.92).


3. Miami (50–17, 22–8 ACC)

Coming off an Omaha trip, the Hurricanes are back. The 1-through-9 is fiercely intimidating with Zack Collins (.302-15-70), Christopher Barr (.306, 15 SBs) and Willie Abreu (.288-6-47) leading the charge. LHPs Thomas Woodrey (7–2, 2.88) and Danny Garcia (7–1, 3.68) man the weekend, and the Canes boast a strong bullpen featuring RHPs Bryan Garcia (6–2, 2.50, 10 saves) and Cooper Hammond (5–1, 2.25) and LHP Michael Mediavilla (3–2, 1.94).


4. Oregon State (39–18–1, 19–10–1 Pac-12)

The Beavers are back to being Omaha-ready with hurlers such as Drew Rasmussen (7–4, 2.80), Sam Tweedt (8–1, 2.85) and Travis Eckert (6–2, 4.08). Plus, returning from injury are LHP Max Engelbrekt (5–1, 1.30 in 2013) and RHP Jake Thompson (3–2, 4.25 in 2014). All-America catcher KJ Harrison (.309-10-60) is one of six returning starters, and SS Nick Madrigal leads a top-10 freshman class.


5. Virginia (44–24, 15–15 ACC)

The national champions have to replace Brandon Waddell and Nathan Kirby, who are now UVa legends. RHP Connor Jones (7–3, 3.19) and LHP Kevin Doherty (3–1, 3.40, 3 saves) head up a talented, rebuilt staff. Three top hitters are back as C Matt Thaiss (.323-10-64), SS Daniel Pinero (.308-6-29) and 1B/OF Pavin Smith (.307-7-44) pack some pop. Keep tabs on freshman infielder Ryan Karstetter, a 6'4" lumberjack.

6. Vanderbilt (51–21, 20–10 SEC)

Never mind the exodus of names like Swanson, Wiseman, Wiel, Fulmer, Beuhler and Pfeifer. Coach Tim Corbin has kept the talent level ridiculously high. Pitchers Kyle Wright (6–1, 1.23), John Kilichowski (3–4, 2.84) and Jordan Sheffield (5-2, 2.85) and All-America candidates Bryan Reynolds (.318-5-49) and Jeren Kendall (.281-8-40) lead the way.


7. California (36–21, 18–12 Pac-12)

Coach Dave Esquer always gets the most out of his team, which could stalk another postseason run. Devin Pearson (.355-4-22) and Aaron Knapp (.310, 12 SBs) lead an offense that hit just .274. But the pitching is stout with LHP Matt Ladrech (7–4, 2.67) and RHP Daulton Jefferies (6–5, 2.92).


8. Oregon (38–25, 16–14 Pac-12)

Often close-but-no-cigar, this could be the year George Horton’s charges break through to Omaha. Lefties Cole Irvin (2–5, 4.10) and David Peterson (4–6, 4.39) and the return of former supplemental first-round draftee Matt Krook should make a daunting rotation. Seven field starters are back, as is former Freshman All-American A.J. Balta, who sat out 2015. The hyper-talented No. 8-ranked recruiting class features five MLB draftees.


9. Notre Dame (37–23, 17–13 ACC)

Surprised? Don’t be. Mik Aoki has been a miracle-worker. He’ll have 49 of 60 starts back on the mound. Ryan Smoyer (9–1, 2.27), Scott Tully (4–4, 3.17) and Brandon Bielak (6–3, 3.55) lead a deep, talented staff. The offense hit a boney-armed .250 last year, but the entire infield returns, led by 3B Kyle Fiala (.301-4-28) and 2B Cavan Biggio (.258-9-26), who both have major gap power.

10. Louisiana-Lafayette (42–23, 18–11 Sun Belt) 

Is this deja vu from 2013? Perhaps. A full 54 of 65 pitching starts return from the Super Regional squad led by LHP Gunnar Leger (6–5, 2.99) and RHP Wyatt Marks (6–1, 3.24), and they’ll lean on closer Dylan Moore (3–3, 1.60, 13 saves). OF Kyle Clement (.346-8-32) and 2B/SS Stefan Trosclair (.338-16-53) will team with junior college All-American Steven Sensley, who hit 21 homers last year.


11. Texas A&M (50–14, 18–10 SEC)

The Aggies could finish much higher, especially if 2014 staff ace Tyler Stubblefield bounces back to 100 percent. Every significant bullpen arm is back, led by Andrew Vinson (5–2, 2.12, 5 saves) and Mark Ecker (1–2, 2.45, 8 saves). OF Nick Banks (.364-8-48) is an All-America-type, and Ryne Birk (.275-10-35) and Hunter Melton (.300-8-37) were huge reasons why the Aggies tied for third nationally in home runs.


12. NC State (36–23, 15–14 ACC)

The Pack caught fire in May and June and hope for a carryover effect. The pitching sported a 2.93 team ERA and has seven sub-3.50 hurlers back, led by weekend starters Brian Brown (7–3, 2.03) and Cory Wilder (2–5, 3.50) and reliever Tommy DeJuneas (3–3, 1.82, 6 saves). The offense hit .271, but Andrew Knizner (.317-5-42) and Preston Palmeiro (.305-7-49) will lead by example.


13. UCLA (45–16, 22–8 Pac-12)

It’s all about pitching and defense for the Bruins. Sure, there were some losses from last year’s team, but the No. 3 recruiting class features LHP Justin Hooper (95 mph fastball) and RHP Kyle Monar, who will join RHPs Grant Dyer (4–2, 1.83) and Griffin Canning (7–1, 2.97) to form a formidable rotation. OF Eric Filia (2013 All-CWS) returns, and infielders Luke Persico (.285-3-43) and Trent Chatterton (.281) are stout gloves.


14. Cal State Fullerton (39–25, 19–5 Big West) 

Like UCLA above, the Titans thrive on being pitching-heavy and hard-nosed. Sophomore studs John Gavin (7–3, 3.66) and Connor Seabold (5–4, 3.26) are All-America candidates. Fresno State transfer RHP Blake Quinn and freshman RHP Colton Eastman will make an immediate impact. There are lots of seniors around the diamond, including OF Josh Vargas (.332), 3B/C Jerrod Bravo (.318) and much-improved SS Timmy Richards (.229).


15. Florida State (44–21, 17–13 ACC) 

Oh, you know coach Mike Martin’s Seminoles — they’re never too far from the top. There are some holes to fill, but RHPs Mike Compton (4–4, 3.55) and Drew Carlton (5–5, 4.04) will pace the mound staff. Quincy Nieporte (.297-7-48), John Sansone (.245-8-38) and Dylan Busby (.242-9-45) have power but need to post better numbers. The No. 5-ranked recruiting class builds a base for the next few years of contention.


16. Arkansas (40–25, 17–12 SEC)

Give Dave Van Horn a deep pitching staff and watch out. That’s what 2016 brings as RHPs Keaton McKinney (6–2, 3.21), Dominic Taccolini (6–4, 4.32) and James Teague (6–4, 3.36) had 41 combined starts last year. Also, Zach Jackson (5–1, 2.10, 9 saves) might be the nation’s best reliever. Outfield is a question, but infielders Michael Bernal (.269) and Rick Nomura (.298) form a great double-play combo.


17. LSU (54–12, 21–8 SEC)

Wholesale changes in Tiger Town. Eight starters are gone, so look for lots of new faces. Freshmen Trey Dawson and O’Neal Lochridge could be instant infield stars. The pitching corps is well-stocked. All-American Alex Lange (12–0, 1.97) is pro-ready, as is sophomore LHP Jared Poche’ (9–2, 3.05). And bullpen aces like RHPs Jesse Stallings (1-2, 2.73, 12 saves) and Parker Bugg (1-2, 1.72) are back.


18. Oklahoma State (38–20, 14–8 Big 12) 

Josh Holliday has led the Pokes to three straight NCAAs and two Regional host spots in Stillwater. Both streaks could continue as infielder Donnie Walton (.326-4-29) and reliever Garrett Williams (1–0, 4.91) both had great summers in the Cape Cod League. Seniors RF Corey Hassel (.312-3-33) and two-way threat Conor Costello (.240-6-35, 2–0, 1.67) are hungry for Omaha. 1B Dustin Williams (.276-6-38) looks for consistency.


19. Maryland (42–24, 14–10 Big Ten)

The Terps aren’t going away anytime soon. Coach John Szefc lost eight draftees last June, but a pair of All-Americans will keep things hot in RHP Mike Shawaryn (13–2, 1.71) and SS Kevin Smith (.273-7-35). C/DH Nick Cieri (.299) had a huge summer in the Cape Cod League, and junior college All-America OF Madison Nickens and 2B Nick Dunn head up a top-20 recruiting class.


20. Houston (43–20, 16–8 AAC)

Coach Todd Whitting believes he’s got two of the best starting pitchers in the country in LHP Seth Romero (7–4, 1.94) and RHP Andrew Lantrip (9–3, 2.62, 115 Ks). The bullpen needs re-tooling, but low-90s fireballer Bubba Maxwell is back after missing most of last season. Three of the six returnees in the batting order hit at least .300 — Corey Julks (.302-5-38), Jacob Campbell (.301-5-41) and Josh Vidales (.300).


21. Coastal Carolina (39–21, 17–7 Big South) 

The Chanticleers went from 24 wins in 2014 to 39 last year. Look for more in 2016 as seven top hitters and four of the top five pitchers return. OF Anthony Marks (.343, 17 SBs), SS Michael Paez (.326-8-42) and C/1B G.K. Young (.301-9-49) should improve the .274 average. RHPs Bobby Holmes (4–1, 2.90), Andrew Beckwith (6–4, 3.26) and Alex Cunningham (6–0, 2.56) should see expanded roles.


22. Tulane (35–25, 13–11 AAC) 

Nearly everyone is back from the first Green Wave Regional team since 2008. A veteran squad returns with RHPs Corey Merrill (5–6, 2.12), Emerson Gibbs (5–3, 2.73), Patrick Duester (7–6, 3.21) and Alex Massey (6–4, 3.67), who combined for 51 starts. The Wave sported a taut .971 defense and gets back SS Stephen Alemais (.312, 27 SBs), 1B Hunter Williams (.285-4-28) and 3B Hunter Hope (.230).


23. Georgia Tech (32–23, 13–17 ACC) 

These guys missed the Regionals? Weird right? Virtually every facet of the team needs a reboot for the Yellow Jackets this season. Every pitcher of note returns, led by RHPs Brandon Gold (7–3, 3.26) and Zac Ryan (9–1, 3.59, 7 saves). The top three hitters are back in Ryan Peurifoy (.324), Keenan Innis (.310) and Kel Johnson (.298-10-34). The nation’s fourth-ranked recruiting class will augment the Jackets’ ACC title hopes.


24. USC (39–21, 18–12 Pac-12)

Last year, USC returned to the NCAAs for the first time since 2005. Senior RHPs Kyle Davis (3–3, 4.05, 6 saves) and Brent Wheatley (4–4, 4.50) were drafted last June but came back. Senior OFs Timmy Robinson (.295-7-53, 19 SBs) and David Oppenheim (.284-3-27) join top arm Marc Huberman (6–4, 2.36, 4 saves) and top returning bat Jeremy Martinez (.296) to buoy the Trojans’ hopes of returning to the postseason.


25. Iowa (41–18, 19–5 Big Ten)

The Hawkeyes’ rise in recent years under Rick Heller has been phenomenal. Though only four field starters return, six pitchers who posted a sub-3.50 ERA return to a loaded staff in Iowa City. There’s a lot of experience, led by SS Nick Roscetti (.303), OF Joel Booker (.235, 9 SBs), RHP Calvin Mathews (5–3, 2.45) and 1B/RHP Tyler Peyton (.337, 7–4, 3.03), who is an excellent dual-threat. Junior college All-America SS Mason McCoy was the MVP of the summer Northwoods League.


2016 Preseason All-America Team


C: Zach Collins, Miami

1B: Will Craig, Wake Forest

2B: Stefan Trosclair, Louisiana-Lafayette

SS: Donnie Walton, Oklahoma State

3B: Bobby Dalbec, Arizona

OF: Bryan Reynolds, Vanderbilt

OF: Corey Ray, Louisville

OF: Nick Banks, Texas A&M

OF: Buddy Reed, Florida

DH: JJ Schwarz, Florida

UTL: Brendan McKay, Louisville


SP: Alex Lange, LSU

SP: Kyle Funkhouser, Louisville

SP: Mike Shawaryn, Maryland

SP: A.J. Puk, Florida

RP: Zach Jackson, Arkansas

RP: Zack Burdi, Louisville

Athlon Sports' 2016 College Baseball Preseason Top 25
Post date: Thursday, February 11, 2016 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: recipe, Life
Path: /life/peanut-butter-banana-pancakes

There's no better way to start game day than with an amazing breakfast. For that, we love pancakes. Or in this case, some Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes. Here's a fantastic recipe:


Kitchen gadgets needed: measuring cups, spoonula, frying pan, stovetop


Ingredients (makes 6-7 pancakes):

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut butter for batter, plus more for serving
1 banana, sliced

Time commitment: 15-18 minutes



1. Stir the flour, baking soda, rolled oats and sugar in a large bowl.

2. Place the butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat it in the microwave for 20-second intervals, stirring in between, until everything has melted completely (usually just 40 seconds is enough).

3. Pour the melted butters (yes, butters) into the bowl o’ dry ingredients. Mix it in, and as you stir, add in the egg and milk.

4. Turn a burner onto medium heat, topping it with a frying pan. Once the pan’s heated for a couple minutes, pour a palm-sized amount of batter onto the pan. Top it with a few slices of banana, and once small bubbles form in the batter, flip it to the other side. When both sides are lightly golden, move the pancake to a plate and start another.

5. For added peanut butter flavor that won’t disappoint, lightly smear peanut butter between the pancakes and drizzle the top of the stack with maple syrup. The pancakes’ heat will cause the peanut butter to melt, resulting in a rich, velvety shortstack.

Recipe provided by Collegiate Cook. For even more great tailgate and party recipes, check out their USF Gameday Cookbook

Post date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 16:03
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Overtime
Path: /overtime/jim-harbaugh-not-fan-whiners-michigan-spring-practice-sec-commissioner-greg-sankey

No one likes a whiner, least of all Jim Harbaugh.


The Michigan head coach got wind that SEC Conference commissioner Greg Sankey wants to put a halt to the Wolverines running spring practices in Florida. Harbaugh, king of the subtweet, sent this tweet out to just get a little something off his mind. 



On one hand it's random, but on the other hand the timing and context is a little too much to overlook. 


To answer your question Jim, no one likes whiners.

Post date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 14:40
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/tennessee-player-reportedly-assaulted-teammates-helping-rape-victim

It's rare you hear about players on the same team going against each other. 


According to The Tennessean, football players from the University of Tennessee assaulted wide receiver Drae Bowles for helping a woman who claimed she was raped by other members of the team. 


Bowles took the woman to the hospital on the night of the alleged rape November of 2014 and was behind her decision to report the problem to the police. That didn't sit well with some of his fellow Vols. Interestingly enough, the players involved in the incident with Bowles are not named as defendants in the lawsuit that accuses five Tennessee athletes of sexual assault.


The lawsuit goes on to say that head coach Butch Jones as well as athletic director Dave Hart were aware of the sexual assaults by the football players but "acted with deliberate indifference" and "failed to take corrective action."


No word yet on if they will be reprimanded in some way for their inability to take action.

Post date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 14:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, NBA, Overtime
Path: /overtime/ranking-10-worst-sports-twitter-accounts-darren-rovell-clay-travis-jason-whitlock-miami-beach-bowl

Twitter is an art form when you really think about it. Some people are good and others are bad at it. 


What makes a person or team bad at Twitter? They don't interact, don't have good information, or maybe they're just flat out boring. The really bad ones are a combination of the three. 


10. Michigan Football (@umichfootball) - Before you Wolverines fans get yourself in a tizzy consider this, Michigan has one of the most social coaches in college football, but their tweets are still boring. There is so much you could do with Jim Harbaugh and his crazy recruiting trips, but Michigan keeps it straight business and there's nothing wrong with that. There is room for a little fun on social media, so it wouldn't hurt to loosen the tie a little. They don't interact with fans, but they have a relationship with The Players' Tribune so there's that.


9. Carl Weathers (@TheCarlWeathers) - This is the guy who played Apollo Creed in the Rocky series. Nothing major sticks out but it's the #BePeace with every responding tweet that's a little weird. Weathers also keeps things as short as possible, so if Twitter ever does put the 10,000-character tweets into place, don't expect him to follow the crowd into long-winded thoughts.



8. Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) - SI's MMQB guy is notorious for bad timing. Many times he has sent out apologetic tweets because he "wasn't watching the news" or had "no idea that was going on". One time would be easy to understand, but multiple is a little much. On top of that... dog avi. That's never a good look.




7. Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) - ESPN's infamous business reporter is only seven because there are times when he tweets out decent and useful information. Then there are times when he's tweeting out gems like this. For every corny joke, his followers let him have it.



6. Mike Missanelli (@MikeMiss975) - This guy (don't be ashamed if you have to Google him) is known for making quite a few remarks about women in sports media. One day, he went at the wrong one. Michelle Beadle gave him his 15 seconds of fame before he scooted back into the realm in which he is so comfortable in.



5. Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) - The talking head of "First Take" follows and engages with no one, and he's been known to flip-flop on various occasions. If you don't like what he tweets, wait a while and he'll completely change his stance. Bayless doesn't follow anyone so basically he just wants to talk without having to hear what other people have to say. Hey, just like on the show!




4. Jason Whitlock (@WhitlockJason) - The former ESPN writer turned Fox Sports guy comes off as having an ax to grind on Twitter. His bitter shots and outlandish opinions toward ESPN, Deadspin, Greg Howard, etc., really get in the way of whatever it is he's actually trying to say. 




3. Mark May (@mark_may) - Bad television personality, even worse tweeter. Every time May comes back to Twitter, he has to issue a reminder to everyone that he's back. Let's hope this is the last time we'll ever have to see a tweet like this.




2. Miami Beach Bowl (@MiamiBeachBowl) - College football bowls don't have the best social presence because they're only relevant once a year. It's hard to tweet things throughout the year because there isn't much that concerns you. When it's bowl season, that's your time to shine but the Miami Beach Bowl evidently isn't one for the spotlight. The Twitter account didn't tweet until halftime of the Miami Beach Bowl, literally the only time of year all sports eyes are on you. They started off strong by retweeting the teams who were playing, but it was halftime by the time their first tweet about the game came out.



1. Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) - Clay Travis is Clay Travis. That's really what it comes down to. You either love him or hate him. Travis is one of those guys who always has to be right and if you don't believe the same thing he does, he will put you on blast many times over. Here's a recent example of Travis going after NY Daily News writer Shaun King for his Peyton Manning story. Dive into that rabbit hole if you dare. 



Post date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 13:49
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/terrell-owens-cris-carter-begged-his-way-hall-fame-canton-nfl-mediocre

Terrell Owens and Cris Carter never really got off to the right start.


Back in the day, Carter called Owens "mediocre" and that's something a football player never forgets. These guys sometimes have egos the size of an actual football field so that kind of talk is rarely forgotten. When Owens didn't make it into this year's Hall of Fame class, there was a bit of shock met with the expectation that he would make it someday. Good things come to those who wait and Owens understands that.


One thing T.O. can't understand? The comparisons to Carter, who he says "begged" his way to the HOF.



That part seemed pretty light-hearted, but when Owens appeared on "Mike & Mike", he didn't hold back when talking about Carter and his method of making it to Canton. 



If you think Carter cares in the least bit, you're sadly mistaken.


Post date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 11:35
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/10-players-2016-fantasy-football-value-change-drastically-this-offseason

Now that the 2015 NFL season is officially over, it's time to start looking ahead to '16. While plenty of things are sure to change due to the draft and offseason movement, it may be too early to look at who to draft in your fantasy football league next season, but it's certainly not too early to create a "watch list."


Related: Very Early 2016 Fantasy Football Top 100 Rankings


These are guys that either missed time in 2015 because of injury (or gained time because of an injury to someone else), are free agents that might improve their numbers on a new team, or simply may not return in 2016. The arguments can be made for plenty of other guys to be on this list, and we will watch all of them, but for now, here are the top 10 players to keep an eye on.


Brock Osweiler, QB, free agent

In 2015, Osweiler got the opportunity to make nine starts. In those nine games, he threw for 1,967 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. If those numbers were extrapolated over 16 games, he would have nearly 3,500 yards, 18 TDs and 11 INTs. That's in the same ballpark as Alex Smith (2015 numbers: 3,486 yards, 20 TDs, 7 INTs). Not exactly who you want as your fantasy quarterback. The Denver offense needs to step up to be on par with the defense if the Broncos want to repeat as champions. While Peyton Manning will likely retire, the quarterback market is bleak, leaving Osweiler as Denver's best option. Keep an eye out to see if he returns as the starting QB.


Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks

With every sign pointing to Marshawn Lynch retiring, Rawls appears to have the Seattle backfield all to himself. While his 2015 season was cut short because of a broken ankle, he should be fine for training camp. In 2015, he had flashes of looking amazing (four games with more than 100 rushing yards) and he had weeks of being a complete dud. He had four rushing touchdowns on the year and didn’t really factor into the passing game. However, the Seahawks don’t usually utilize running backs in the passing game. In 2013 and '14, Lynch only had 36 and 37 receptions, respectively. Rawls has the potential to be a top-tier running back... or he could just as easily be a bust. Watch to see what Seattle does with its offense in the offseason.


Lamar Miller, RB, free agent

The running back market is the biggest for free agents this year, with Miller leading the pack. It's unclear if he will return to the Dolphins, as it will likely come down to (what else?) money. He had a very frustrating season in 2015, where the Dolphins would lean on the run just to turn around and forget about it. He had three games with more than 100 rushing yards and a total of eight games with either a touchdown or at least 100 total yards. He also had nine games with fewer than 50 rushing yards (a touchdown saved his fantasy day in four of those outings). He didn't break the 1,000-yard mark on the season, but he did score the most touchdowns of his career (10, which is one more than his previous best of nine). His eventual landing spot will have a big say regarding his fantasy value for 2016, so keep an eye on him.


Doug Martin, RB, free agent

Martin is a free agent, but is expected to re-sign with Tampa Bay. He has said he wants to stay with the Buccaneers and the team has said it wants the 2012 first-round pick back. Assuming that happens, Martin is a risky RB1 for 2016. He played well this past year, but certainly struggled in 2014. He has two seasons with more than 1,400 yards rushing and two with fewer than 500. Obviously, injuries play a part in that, but as fantasy owners know, injuries can be brutal, especially if they happen to one of your high draft picks. The touchdowns dipped in 2015 as well, as he only found the end zone seven times. Charles Sims will still be in the picture and will likely steal some carries and goal-line work. However, Tampa Bay seems to be a comfortable place for Martin, and fantasy owners will be willing to take the risk on him.


Matt Forte, RB, free agent

It seems unlikely that Forte will be back in Chicago, so he and Lamar Miller will be the two backs to really watch this offseason. Rumors have been circulating that the Patriots may have interest in Forte, but as of right now, that's just speculation. There are plenty of teams that could benefit from a dual-threat running back. Forte has been great in the passing game, the running game and at the goal line. He is 30 years old, which doesn't help his cause, but he's had at least 898 rushing yards and 44 receptions in all eight seasons he's played in the NFL. He's only missed eight games in eight seasons, although in 2015 he did struggle with both his numbers and injuries. Whether it was a case of the Bears just being beat up overall, or Forte aging is hard to say. Keep an eye on him to see where he lands.


Alshon Jeffery, WR, free agent

While Forte likely won't return to Chicago, Jeffery probably will. The Bears need to take a long, hard look at their offense, and losing both of their stars isn't the way to go. Jeffery had an injury-plagued 2015 season, which fantasy owners will likely remember come draft day. He will only be 26 for the start of the 2016 season and has plenty of good years left in him. His numbers for 2015 are all over the place, as he played through injuries and aggravated those injuries during games. He had four games with more than 100 yards receiving, but only four touchdowns on the year. It's hard to read into the rest of his numbers, because Jeffery is better than his 2015 season showed. He's a clear WR1 for 2016, even with Jay Cutler throwing to him.


Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

Johnson will turn 31 during the 2016 season, but the rumors are that he may retire. While the rumors seemed outlandish at first, as the offseason begins, it seems there might be some merit. Teammate Golden Tate has come out and made comments that seem that Johnson may be on the road to retirement. This is a story to watch because it not only affects Johnson, obviously, but also the rest of the Lions. Not only is it important to watch Johnson, but what other moves the Lions may make on offense. It could be a whole different unit in 2016, for better or worse.


Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton was the MVP this season without his star wide receiver. What happens when the pair are together again? Fantasy owners should be excited to find out. In his rookie year, Benjamin had more than 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He may end up being a sleeper during the offseason, but fantasy owners should just keep an eye out to see how he is recovering from ACL surgery. He did tear his ACL in the preseason, so he should be good to go for 2016, but beware of any kind of setbacks or other issues that might keep him from being a top-tier WR.


Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers

Nelson is in the same boat as Benjamin; he tore his ACL in the preseason and should be good to go for the regular season. However, Nelson will be 31 by the time next season starts, and is on an offense with other solid weapons. He has proven himself and his rapport with Aaron Rodgers in the past, though, so he is still a top WR option, assuming health. The reports already are that he has been running at full speed, so he should be fine for the season, but keep an eye on his progress. His 2014 season was his best season of his career, with 1,519 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. He should return and provide similar production in 2016, but he also comes with a fair amount of risk coming back from a serious knee injury.


Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks

Jimmy Graham will probably (sadly) never be the Jimmy Graham of the New Orleans years. Between the Seahawks failing to utilize him as the Saints did and the brutal injury that ended his 2015 season, it's going to be tough for Graham. He will likely try to return with the Seahawks in 2016, but his ability to play at the All-Pro level he is accustomed to is in question. Victor Cruz was unable to play a snap after coming back from the same injury. That's not to say no one can come back from a torn patellar tendon, but it's a tough recovery. Graham only had two touchdowns in 2015, and was a disappointment for fantasy owners. Watch him this offseason, especially in the preseason, to see if he will be able to be out there for Seattle, and to get a sense of what his role will be in a slightly revamped offense.


— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

10 Players Whose 2016 Fantasy Football Value Could Change Drastically This Offseason
Post date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Overtime
Path: /overtime/chad-johnson-urine-pee-teammates-ankle-sprain-mike-espn

Have an ankle sprain? Chad Johnson knows just what to do.


While making a guest appearance "Mike & Mike", the former NFL star explained what he would do to heal his ankle sprains, and he needed some special contributions from his teammates.



Johnson had a good career so evidently he was doing something right.

Post date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016 - 10:49