Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Preseason Predictions: Top Defensive College Players

Miami linebacker Denzel Perryman
Top DEs- Carl Lawson, Auburn; Leonard Williams, USC; Randy Gregory, Nebraska; Vic Beasley, Clemson; Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State; Hau'oli Kikaha, Washington; Dante Fowler, Florida; Martin Ifedi, Memphis; Ryan Mueler, Kansas State; Cedric Reed, Texas; Trey Flowers, Arkansas; Markus Golden, Mizzou; Bud Dupree, Kentucky

Top DTs- A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama; Chris Jones, Mississippi State; Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA; Danny Shelton, Washington; Luther Maddy, Virginia Tech; Eddie Goldman, Florida State; Michael Bennett, Ohio State; Carl Davis, Iowa; Joey Bosa, Ohio State

Top LBs- Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame; Denzel Perryman, Miami; Caleb Azubike, Vanderbilt; Myles Jack, UCLA; A.J. Tarpley, Stanford; Ramik Wilson, Georgia; Eric Striker, Oklahoma; Hayes Pullard, USC; Shaq Thompson, Washington; James Vaughters, Stanford; Chi Chi Ariguzo, Northwestern; Kyle Woestmann, Vanderbilt; Tyler Matakevich, Temple; AJ Johnson, Tennessee; Trey DePriest, Alabama; Leonard Floyd, Georgia; Kwon Alexander, LSU; Kelby Brown, Duke; Eric Kendricks, UCLA; Taiwan Jones, Michigan State

Top CBs- Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida; Tracy Howard, Miami; Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oregon; Lorezo Doss, Tulane; Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M; Alex Carter, Stanford; Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech; Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest; Blake Countess, Michigan; Ishmael Adams, UCLA; Mackenzie Alexander, Clemson; Josh Shaw, USC; Doran Grant, Ohio State; 

Top Safeties- Su'a Cravens, USC; Landon Collins, Alabama; Derron Smith, Fresno State; Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss; Sam Carter, TCU; Ibraheim Campbell, Northwestern; Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State; Karl Joseph, West Virginia; Corey Cooper, Nebraska

Players may continue to be added and document will be edited up until Opening Kickoff. Another list will feature other breakthrough players and true freshmen to watch.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Preseason Predictions: Top Offensive College Football Players and Top Offensive Lines

USC receiver Nelson Agholor
Top QBs- Will do in separate post

Top Team Offensive Lines: Oregon, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Iowa, LSU, Stanford, UCLA, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Florida State, Kansas State, Georgia Tech, Auburn

Top RBs- TJ Yeldon, Alabama; Derrick Henry, Alabama; Todd Gurley, Georgia; Thomas Tyner, Oregon; Tarean Folston, Notre Dame; Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin; Venric Mark, Northwestern; Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska; Jay Ajayi, Boise State; Mike Davis, South Carolina; Duke Johnson, Miami; Akeem Daniels, NIU; Shock Linwood, Baylor; Bryon Marshall, Oregon; Karlos Williams, FSU; Jeremy Langford, Michigan State

Top WRs- Nelson Agholor, USC; Sammie Coates, Auburn; Amari Cooper, Alabama; Ty Montgomery, Stanford; Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss; Tyler Lockett, Kansas State; Stefon Diggs Maryland; Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State; Jaelen Strong, Arizona State; Antwan Goodley, Baylor; DeVante Parker, Louisville; Jamison Crowder, Duke; Rashad Greene, Florida State; Stacy Coley, Miami; 

Top TEs- OJ Howard, Alabama; Devin Funchess, Michigan; Hunter Henry, Arkansas; Tyler Kroft, Rutgers; Tyreese Russell, Eastern Michigan; Jeff Heuerman, Ohio State; Nick O'Leary, Florida State; Braxton Deaver, Duke; Jordan Leggett, Clemson

*Players may continue to be added and document will be edited up until Opening Kickoff. Another list will feature other breakthrough players and true freshmen to watch.

Friday, July 18, 2014

David Price will be dealt too the highest bidder this trade deadline
There are many teams still in contention not only to earn a playoff spot but win their division. With the addition of the second wildcard it makes things a lot more interesting. A team can be games behind their division leader and first wildcard spot but be just a game out of the second spot. So, with that in mind should your team sell their assets when they are still just a few games back? There are obvious sellers like the Chicago Cubs, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies, but what about those stuck in the middle. Should your team bargain their future for a chance at the second wildcard spot, when there's a chance they can be eliminated a day later. Lets find out

Lets start with the defending World Champion Boston Red Sox. The scrappy bunch haven't produced like they were a year ago. The hitting has been brutal this year and the outfield has been extremely awful, after the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury, the injuries to Shane Victorino, the disappointment that is Jackie Bradley Jr. and the inconsistency that is Daniel Nava and Johnny Gomes. The Sox also made a huge mistake of resigning shortstop Stephen Drew and moving Xander Bogaerts to 3rd. Jon Lester has been stellar but the ace is up for a new contract and some teams have inquired about landing the Ace. Clay Buccholz is regaining form and is raising his trade value along with John Lackey. So, should the sox look for a big outfield bat to stick in the 3 hole? Or get rid of Gomes, Lackey, Lester before they get nothing for them?  Boston should never be a seller but in this case it may do them some good to play the young kids and get rid of some heavy contracts so they are ready for another Championship run next year.

The A's Acquired Samardzija from Chicago
The New York Yankees are 3.5 games out of the second Wild Card spot and have been sidelined with a majority of their payroll on the DL. Non of their offseason moves have really play a big role, other than the pitcher Tanaka Brian McCann has not been a big boost behind the plate and Jacoby Ellsbury should never bat third in your line up. However if the Yankees can make a decent trade to help bolster their line up at any position if will be useful. They could use another arm in the bullpen as well. I see them getting a veteran arm and possibly convincing one of the seller dwellers to give up a big bat, or even land the Dodgers Andre Either or Matt Kemp.

Other AL teams like the league leading Oakland Athletics have already added to their rotation by adding Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and I have a feeling they are not done yet.
Meanwhile, the Cleveland Indians, although they are not far out are not going to be adding any big names, in fact they are going to sell some.

Allen Craig has been rumored to leave St. Louis
Switching to the NL now there is no clear cut teams. The Braves and Nationals will be fighting to the end for the NL East title, The Cardinals, Braves, Giants, Reds and Pirates will all be looking to are all teams who are looking to do nothing but boost their current roster. Look for teams like the Cubs who already traded their Ace to the As to sell even more. The Diamondbacks and the Rockies could also give away some key players in hopes for some Prospects.

St. Louis: I do not see them making any major moves, perhaps they could add a partial bat on the left side of the infielder, rumors are they are looking to deal Allen Craig where a team like Boston or New York can swoop in for a try at him
Stand Pat

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Most Influential and Best College Football Coaches

1. Nick Saban- Alabama's Nick Saban is undoubtedly the best college football coach right now. He consistently brings in top recruiting classes, and he sports a team that wins at least ten games on a year-to-year basis. He is a defensive guru and the Crimson Tide have displayed some of the top defenses in college football history under Saban. He builds these top defenses by recruiting the best high school players in the country and developing them into top NFL draft prospects. He is a straight-forward coach, who has not only revived the Alabama program, but has built it into a top dynasty. When people think college football, they think Alabama, and Nick Saban deserves much of the credit for this.

2. Urban Meyer- Urban Meyer may be considered one of the most controversial coaches in college athletics, due to his track record of poor behavior by players, but one thing is for sure: he knows how to win. In just two seasons at Ohio State, Urban Meyer has established Ohio State as the team to beat in the Big 10. Both seasons his team finished top twelve in the nation, and there are no signs of their slowing down. The former coach of the Florida Gators can recruit like crazy and he motivates his players as well as any other coach. Meyer, a two time BCS National Champion, has mastered the spread offense, and has coached some of the top scoring offenses in college football history.

3. Steve Spurrier- Steve Spurrier's affability, humor, and history of winning make him one of the most compelling coaches in college football. He never shies away from taking shots at other coaches and programs, and he always makes statements that reach the headlines. At South Carolina, Spurrier has created a perennial SEC power out of a mediocre program, and he has done so without completely giving his life up to football and recruiting. He has won nearly two-thirds of his games, since deciding to coach South Carolina, and he has kept the squad on an upward trend. The team has reached unprecedented levels of success under Spurrier's lead. Steve Spurrier is a highly respected man, the Gamecock's all-time winning-est coach, and by all means is the Ol' Head Ball Coach.

4. David Shaw- Shaw is so powerful because he runs his program the right way. Stanford football should act as a model to other football teams around the nation as they truly value the idea of the student athlete. Shaw tries to take individuals that combine high character with athleticism, and since taking over the helm, he has only improved upon Harbaugh's success. Stanford has won the Pac-12 North every year under Shaw, and he overcame the departure of Andrew Luck, a departure that some thought would end the program's success. He has done all of this in a short time, and he has done it as one of the youngest head coaches too.

5. Kevin Sumlin- Since joining the SEC, Texas A&M and Kevin Sumlin have only shocked fans. Of course Johnny Manziel may have helped with that, but Texas A&M has been producing nearly as many 1st round picks as any other school (they had 3 in this past draft). Sumlin has been dominating in terms of recruiting and is making A&M the biggest football school in the state. Sorry UTexas, but right now A&M is claiming the state and making Texas an SEC state. Race should not factor into anything like this, but the SEC has historically lacked in having African American coaches; it's good to see an SEC school with a top coach that happens to be black. With his recent success recruiting, expect Texas A&M to be an SEC power in the future.

6. James Franklin- Since arriving at Happy Valley, Franklin has absolutely killed it on the recruiting trail. He is a coach of the highest passion and the greatest work ethic. His charisma rubs off on his community and on his football team and judging by his track record at Vanderbilt, he knows how to win. Franklin is a master marketer and politician, always finding a way to get in the spotlight. This can sometimes draw more attention to himself than to his school, but overall his nonstop efforts have only been amazing in terms of exciting a fan base and producing a top football team. Expect Franklin to be a house hold name as he revives Penn State.

7. Les Miles- LSU always competes hard in the SEC and never allows opposing teams to come into their stadium and leave without a fight. Les Miles, at LSU, has won nearly 80% of his games and has won a National Championship and two SEC titles. If this were a ranking of coaches simply based on winning history, Miles would be ranked even higher. Like Spurrier, Les Miles is known to have balanced somewhat of a normal life with his coaching career and has not allowed recruiting to take over his entire life. Miles may not seek the news every day for publicity, but he is still a very well-known coach that gets the job done.

8. Bob Stoops- Oklahoma's Bob Stoops is the most renowned college football coach in the Big 12. At Oklahoma, Stoops has won over 80% of his games and he won a National Championship in 2000. Many stars, like Adrian Peterson and Sam Bradford, have come out of Oklahoma during Stoops' time. With Oklahoma currently on a hot-surge, I expect Stoops to gain more recognition in the next couple of years if the Sooners can execute. If Stoops and Oklahoma can exceed expectations for this season, Stoops will likely become one of the most discussed coaches in the nation.

9. Jimbo Fischer- Fischer has won 82% of his games at Florida State, and coming off of a National Championship season, Fischer and Florida State have become a hot commodity in the college sports world. He recruits as well as the best and brought in Jameis Winston, who is the most recent Heisman winner. Before this season, Florida State had some underachieving seasons, but they are now an early favorite for the 2014 season. At still under 50 years of age, Fischer has a bright career ahead of him, and he has a chance to dominate the state of Florida, like he did in 2013.

10. Gary Pinkel- Pinkel has done an outstanding job at Missouri, leading the Tigers to the SEC championship in just their second year in the league. Mizzou has established itself as a true threat in the SEC and a top football program in the nation under Pinkel. More than just wining, Pinkel has helped set an example to the rest of the world, as his team was able to have arguably their best season in school history with a gay player on the team. He has raised a team of tolerance, and the way his team overcame a potential distraction and embraced Michael Sam's sexuality should act as an example for other college football programs.

Other Influential Coaches:

 Art Briles- Briles has turned the Baylor program around, and now they are the reigning Big 12 champions. Similar to Sumlin, Briles is taking a large piece of the pie away from UTexas and is stealing some thunder from the Longhorns. Texas is still the superior football program overall, but as of now, Baylor is the hotter team and Art Briles deserves much of the credit for that.

Charlie Strong- Strong had a great career at Louisville, and now is the Head Coach at Texas. He has not yet exceeded anyone's expectations, but the fact that he is the big man at one of the biggest football programs in the nation has to put him on this list.

Gus Malzahn- Despite only being around for one season, Auburn's Malzahn has started off on the right track. He led Auburn to a 12-2 record, a thrilling upset over Alabama, an SEC Championship victory, and a BCS National Championship that they almost won. He won every major coach of the year award in 2013 and has become a top coach in a short period of time. One or two more great seasons at Auburn and Malzahn will be considered a top ten or even top five coach.

Pat Fitzgerald- Fitzgerald has built the Northwestern program to a level of respectability in the past few seasons. He is a young coach at a top academic school, and he has done an excellent job at producing great players of high character.

Jim Mora- Mora came to UCLA and immediately turned the program around. He is 19-8 in two seasons and has made UCLA very competitive with crosstown rival USC. In fact, UCLA has been the much better program since Mora's arrival. It's tough to believe UCLA will continue to own USC, but I fully expect that UCLA will keep it a relatively even rivalry as long as Mora is at UCLA.

Dabo Swinney- Clemson. Enough said. Swinney has created a dominant program in Clemson, South Carolina. With Florida State, Clemson has been dominating the ACC recently both on the field and in recruiting. Swinney wins games, and I would be shocked if this were to change anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2013 SEC Turnover Margins

Turnovers are often considered the most crucial plays in football games. A Turnover gained creates momentum, and a negative change of possession sucks away confidence. Limiting turnovers is key to any offense's success, and being opportunistic on defense by creating turnovers is the ultimate way to kill the opponent's drive and give your team the ball back. Below is a chart that displays how many turnovers each SEC team gained and gave up. The yellow bands represent the overall turnover margins, which are also stated at the top of the display.

Graphic by Saturday Sports Section (S3C)

Friday, July 11, 2014

He's Back!!!! Memorable Moment in Sports History

College Football Conference Rankings

1. SEC- It comes as no surprise that the conference with powerhouses like Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Texas A&M ranks first. Before this year, the SEC had won seven consecutive national championships, and during the seven year streak, four different SEC players -- from four different schools -- had won the Heisman trophy. Despite the SEC loss (Auburn's loss) in the past BCS Championship, the SEC still finished first among all conferences in bowl wins in 2013 and first among major conferences in bowl winning percentage (70%). The SEC's dominance goes beyond winning football games too. The 14 team league is known for having the largest and craziest fan-bases. Football in the SEC is more than just a game; it's a religion. SEC teams take pride in their extravagant tailgating experiences before the game, and during the game, they fill some of the largest, most iconic stadiums in the country. It is clear that the best college football is played in the SEC and that SEC country is the hub of college football spirit.

2. Pac-12- From top to bottom the Pac-12 is stacked. In fact, the Pacific Athletic Conference may have more depth than the SEC. That is not to say that the Pac-12 has more good teams than the SEC, though. It just means that a higher percentage of its members are competitive enough to win the league each year. The Pac-12 had 9 of its 12 teams (75%) play in a bowl game last year, the second highest percentage of bowl qualifications for any conference. With top programs, such as Stanford, Oregon, USC and UCLA, the Pac-12 has surpassed the struggling conferences in the middle of the country, the BIG 10 and Big 12, to become the 2nd best conference in the country.

3. Big 12 (Tie)- With the likes of Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, the Big 12 is still a top conference, despite the losses of a few teams. With so many top high school recruits coming out of the state of Texas, I expect the Big 12 to remain a competitive conference. That being said, with the SEC taking more and more top high school athletes out of Texas, I expect the SEC and Pac 12 to create more separation from the Big 12 as time goes on. The Big 12 finished 3-3 in bowl games this past season with Oklahoma's upset over Alabama being the marquee win. My biggest concern for the Big 12 is that it only has ten teams and that it has a much smaller footprint than other major conferences; nearly all Big 12 followers are in the state of Texas, a state that is quickly turning into an SEC batleground.

3. BIG 10 (Tie)- The Big 10 is amidst a gradual downfall, which has been highlighted by a 2-5 bowl record this past year. The plummeting conference has become so desperate that they have expanded to the east coast by adding Maryland and Rutgers. Unfortunately for the Big 10, these two programs are not elite by any means. Sure these teams have potential, but a pickup like Notre Dame would go world farther. The Big 10's continued decline is inevitable, and although I believe Penn State, Ohio State, and a few other Big 10 teams will prosper in the next few years, the overall depth in the league is lacking. I expect the Big 12 and Big 10 to experience similar struggles to claim significant relevance in the college football world, and it is likely that the ACC will surpass them.

3. ACC (Tie)- All of the additions that the ACC have made have been absolutely golden; the conference may have lost Maryland, but the recent additions of Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse are undeniably upgrades. Currently the ACC still lags behind the SEC and Pac 12 by a large margin, since excluding Florida State, Clemson, and Louisville, the league is filled by mediocre football teams. Nevertheless, if Duke can continue their strong play and Miami can continue their revival, the ACC may very well surpass both the Big 10 and Big 12 within the next three years. With fourteen teams in football and Notre Dame in every other sport, the ACC has an extremely large footprint, which should aid the conference in recruiting and marketing. The ACC is the home of the reigning national champions, Florida State, and actually placed 78.6% of its teams in bowl games this past season, the highest percentage of any conference.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

SEC Football 2014 Video

Justin King of Saturday Down South produced this video montage to pump you up for 2014 SEC football. Check it out!