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Red Grange: The Galloping Ghost 2

Posted on October 05, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Red Grange

Red Grange

The October Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the NFL’s first superstar and marquee attraction.

The NFL was less than five years old and struggling to gain a foothold in popularity when Red Grange put the league on the map during a 67-day, 19-game, barnstorming tour that is credited with legitimizing professional football and the NFL. Read the rest of this entry →

Division I Football Has a Playoff! Now What? 2

Posted on August 10, 2014 by Dean Hybl
Jameis Winston and Florida State seem to be the likely choice to run past the competition and into the first Division I Football Playoff.

Jameis Winston and Florida State seem to be the likely choice to run past the competition and into the first Division I Football Playoff.

After years of waiting and wanting, those who said that Division I college football will be better with a playoff system now have their wish. So, as the first season of the College Football Playoff prepares to get underway, it will be interesting to see if this system calms the critics or creates a new set of detractors.

On the field, the potential candidates for the playoff seem to be many of the same players that have been in the mix over the last few years and you can see the odds at allpro.

Simply by returning their starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston, the Florida State Seminoles are the popular favorites to repeat as national champions. With 13 returning starters and a relatively favorable schedule in which they have only seven challenging games and play four of them at home and one on a neutral site, it seems very likely that Florida State will be among the four teams to earn playoff spots.

It also seems generally safe to pencil Alabama into the playoff mix. However, what is an unknown entering the first year of the playoff is how the SEC, which provides tougher challenges on a weekly basis than many other conferences, will be treated in the likelihood that no-one from the league is undefeated and the conference has multiple teams with just one or two losses.

Besides the Crimson Tide, other SEC teams that certainly have the talent to contend for a playoff spot are Auburn, South Carolina, Georgia and LSU. However, in recent years the conference has also featured a surprise team that wasn’t expected to make a run, but somehow is there at the end. This year that team could possibly be Mississippi, Texas A&M or maybe even the Florida Gators.

With four teams possessing enough talent to contend for the playoffs, the Pac-12 could also be hampered by their top-line depth when looking at getting a team (or two) into the playoff. Oregon and Stanford have been the cream of the conference in recent years, but UCLA and USC both seem to have the talent to contend for the conference title.

While I know this playoff system is supposed to take the politics out of deciding a champion, does anyone really think that is possible? That being said, it would seem extremely unlikely that the Big Ten will not figure a way to get someone into the playoff party.

Ohio State would seem to be the most likely candidate, but after going nearly two seasons undefeated under head coach Urban Meyer they barely defeated Michigan before ending the 2013 season with losses to Michigan State and Clemson. They have only a couple challenging games in 2014, so how they perform in the final weeks of the season could determine whether they are in the playoff.

If the Buckeyes don’t prove worthy, Michigan State could certainly prove to be the Big Ten representative. Wisconsin is a relative long-shot and while Michigan seems highly unlikely to be good enough to reach the playoffs, they could prove to be a spoiler for other Big Ten contenders. Read the rest of this entry →

Remembering Sports Greats Lost in 2013 1

Posted on December 31, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Baseball legend Stan Musial passed away in 2013 at age 92.

Baseball legend Stan Musial passed away in 2013 at age 92.

Unfortunately, one of the inevitable aspects of every year is that we must say goodbye to some memorable greats from the sports world who passed away during that year.

2013 was no different as the sports world lost a number of all-time greats along with many others who may not have ended their careers in a sports Hall of Fame, but who left their own marks on the history of sports.

During the year we reflected on the passing of several athletes at the time of their death including Stan Musial, Pat Summerall, Earl Weaver, Deacon Jones, Art Donovan, Bum Phillips and Ed Herrmann. You can remember the legacies of these sports stars by clicking on their name to read the original articles.

In addition to these seven, there were many other well-known figures from the sports world that we lost in 2013. Below are brief remembrances of some of those greats.

Miller Barber – Professional Golfer – 82 years old
After winning 11 PGA Tour tournaments, but never finishing better than fourth in any Major, Barber was one of the early stars of the Senior Tour. He won 24 Senior Tour tournaments, including the Senior PGA Championship in 1981 and three Senior U.S. Open Championships in a four-year period.

Walt Bellamy – NBA Hall of Famer – 74 years old
The first pick of the 1961 NBA Draft, Bellamy averaged 31.6 points per game as a rookie, but still finished nearly 19 points per game behind NBA scoring champion Wilt Chamberlain (who averaged 50.4 ppg). He went on to average 20.1 points and 13.7 rebounds per game during a 14 year career in which he played for five different franchises.

Paul Blair – Major League Baseball Outfielder – 69 years old
An eight time Gold Glove winner, Blair was a key member of two World Series Champion teams with the Baltimore Orioles. He also won two World Series as a member of the New York Yankees during his 17 year career. Read the rest of this entry →

LSU Tigers Prepare To Make An Impact In The SEC 0

Posted on September 16, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Zach Mettenberger is off to a hot start in 2013.

Zach Mettenberger is off to a hot start in 2013.

The first weeks of the college football season have seen Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M and South Carolina garner the spotlight in the highly competitive SEC. Now, after three straight non-conference games, the LSU Tigers are ready to jump into conference play and regain some of the limelight.

After opening the conference schedule at home on September 21st against the Auburn Tigers, they will have to break out the LSU luggage for back-to-back road games at Georgia and Mississippi State.

By the time LSU returns home to face Florida on October 12th it will be very clear whether Les Miles’ squad is a contender for the conference and national title.

If LSU is able to withstand their SEC challenges, a big reason is likely to be the play of senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger. After struggling at times a year ago, Mettenberger has been outstanding so far in 2013 in his first season playing under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

A former head coach at both the college and professional level, Cameron has helped Mettenberger blossom. Through his first three games, Mettenberger is completing 65.2% of his passes for 797 yards and nine touchdowns without throwing an interception. Read the rest of this entry →

5 Fearless Predictions for the 2013 College Football Season 3

Posted on August 31, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Will Nick Saban again be lifting the BCS crystal when the season is over?

Will Nick Saban again be lifting the BCS crystal when the season is over?

Though the fact that much of the country has been experiencing some of the warmest weather of the summer might suggest otherwise, the wait really is over and it is time for college football season.

The opening games on Thursday night just wet the whistle for what should be another great year across the country.

Rather than joining the thousands of others who have offered their preseason rankings and conference predictions, here are “5 Fearless Predictions” of things I expect to see happen in college football this season.

1. Someone other than Johnny Manziel wins the Heisman Trophy

This may have been considered an off the wall prediction after the freshman phenom won the Heisman Trophy and  then led Texas A&M to a Cotton Bowl victory last season. However, he has spent the last nine months getting more attention for the parties he has attended and for all the time he spent signing autographs for “free” than for his upcoming sophomore season.

I think Manziel is a talented college football player (though unlikely to be a good NFL player), but his rise to the Heisman last season was a bit of a fluke as it was really the result of one huge performance against Alabama and the lack of a clear offensive star among the elite teams in the game.
Read the rest of this entry →

Book Review: Rising Tide Provides Glimpse Into Alabama Football During Era Of Bryant and Namath 3

Posted on August 18, 2013 by Dennis Jezek
The new book looks at the sometimes dicey relationship between two Alabama legends Bear Bryant and Joe Namath.

The new book looks at the sometimes dicey relationship between two Alabama legends Bear Bryant and Joe Namath.

The new book by Randy Roberts and Ed Krzemienski, Rising Tide : Bear Bryant, Joe Namath and Dixie’s Last Quarter, is dedicated to, among others, “all of the … passionate fans of the Crimson Tide, the most successful college football team in history.” It was not, however, written by fans.

In interest of full disclosure, I was born in 1965, just a few months after the last events of this book, and have been a fan of the Crimson Tide since 1972. I graduated from the Capstone in 1991, just a year shy of being able to experience the joys of 1992 for myself. I worked in the sports information office with Coach Gene Stallings, knew Dude Hennessey, Charley Thornton and Clem Gryska among others cited in the book.

If you’ve ever wondered why, when discussing the pantheon of greats from Tide history, Joe Namath doesn’t seem to get mentioned quite as often as Harry Gilmer, Don Hutson, Vaughn Mancha, Dixie Howell, Pat Trammel, Lee Roy Jordan, Johnny Musso, Kenny Stabler, Bob Baumhauer, Woody Lowe Ozzie Newsome or any of the newer stars, despite the fact that Bryant often called him the “greatest athlete I ever coached,” this book might help you understand it. Ever the outsider, Namath starred for the University of Alabama, but he never really was “part” of it. To paraphrase Chris Peterson, he wasn’t O.K.P. (our kinda player).

If you really are a fan of the Tide and have even a little sense of the history (and I don’t think you get to call yourself a ‘fan’ if you don’t), then there really is not a ton of new material here from a program perspective. There is, however, a great deal of background information about Namath, culled from interviews with family, friends and the man himself. That material alone makes the book worth the effort. Read the rest of this entry →

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Red Grange: The Galloping Ghost
      October 5, 2014 | 1:26 pm
      Red Grange

      Red Grange

      The October Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was the NFL’s first superstar and marquee attraction.

      The NFL was less than five years old and struggling to gain a foothold in popularity when Red Grange put the league on the map during a 67-day, 19-game, barnstorming tour that is credited with legitimizing professional football and the NFL.

      Read more »

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