Category Archives: Sports Feature

Nick Saban Bleedin’ Tide Crimson as a Coaching Perfectionest in the SEC

University of Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban/Photo Courtenay of Wikipedia
University of Alabama Head Football Coach Nick Saban/Photo Courtenay of Wikipedia

One hundred and fifty-six wins…6 conference SEC West division championships… 4 college head coaching jobs. A five-time National Coach of the Year, Saban has achieved resounding success as a head coach and has earned a reputation as an outstanding tactician, leader, organizer and motivator. Saban  went into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame  in May of 2013.He was on the cover the cover of Forbes Magazines in 2008 as one of the most powerful college coaches in the game. Only the second coach in NCAA history to win a national championship at two different schools.

Starting  his 8th season, Alabama began the year ranked #2 in the preseason AP and Coaches Poll for the third time in 4 years. It is the fifth straight season the Crimson Tide have started the year in the top 2 and seventh consecutive year in the top 5. In the season opener Alabama improved to 4-0 in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game beating West Virginia 33-23 in the first meeting between the two schools. The Tide won their home opener the next week over FAU 41-0 after the game was called in the 4th quarter due to lightning.

Saban  will  earn $400,000 completion bonus per year, bringing the total contract to $55.2 million. His eight-year contract totaling $32 million made him one of the highest paid football coaches, professional or college, in the United States at the time.

He appeared on the September 1, 2008 cover of Forbes magazine as “The Most Powerful Coach in Sports“. Saban’s career record as a college head coach is 165–57-1

Saban  graduated from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio , where he played defensive back for the football team under coach Don  James.. Along with a roommate, he avoided being amidst the infamous Kent State shooting  when they decided to eat lunch while walking to the rally.                        

A man of vision who has a proven record of championship success, head coach Nick Saban has returned the University of Alabama to the top of the college football landscape with his commitment to building the total program. After the victory over Notre Dame in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, Saban joined Frank Leahy, Paul “Bear” Bryant and John McKay as the only coaches to win four national titles in the modern era.

As he begins his eighth season in Tuscaloosa, Saban’s uncompromising dedication to excellence in every phase of the program has resulted in the school’s 13th, 14th and 15th national championships and the foundation is  in place to yield long-term success for the Crimson Tide. A five-time National Coach of the Year, Saban has achieved resounding success as a head coach and has earned a reputation as an outstanding tactician, leader, organizer and motivator.

Those qualities have sparked impressive turnarounds at every stop of his career. Saban’s consistent approach and disciplined leadership are the reasons his teams are known for exhibiting grit, determination and resilience, often overcoming adversity to make victory.

He is the first coach to win back-to-back BCS national championships and has won four titles in his last eight years of coaching college football. Saban is one of three college coaches in the poll era (since 1936) to win three national championships in four years, joining Frank Leahy of Notre Dame (1946-47, 1949) and Tom Osborne of Nebraska (1994-95, 1997). He is also the fourth coach in the poll era to win four national championships (Alabama’s Paul “Bear” Bryant, John McKay of Southern California and Leahy).

The Iron Bowl moves to  Tuscaloosa this season and Auburn’s schedule is much tougher (Georgia and South Carolina from the east). The Crimson Tide, outside of question at quarterback (which obviously is important) is  how loaded on offense and extremely talented on defense, where they are always very good. Alabama is the preseason media pick to win the SEC Championship this season and I agree, but it wasn’t the easiest pick.

Betting against Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide usually comes at a cost and I don’t see them losing to Auburn two years in a row, especially at home. While whoever is starting at QB for Bama will likely have growing pains, the aid of TJ Yeldon and Amari Cooper along the always stout Tide defense will be able to overcome the loss of AJ McCarron

Alabama began the 2014 season ranked #2 in the preseason AP and Coaches Poll for the third time in 4 years. It is the fifth straight season the Crimson Tide have started the year in the top 2 and sixth overall in the top 5.

 

 

 

Hindsight Has Auburn Looking to Repeat as SEC Champions in 2014

Hindsight is 20/20 and in my case it seems to be especially true.

I have come to consider myself somewhat of an expert on Auburn Tiger Football — of course that’s what being an athlete and  being a sports reporter and editor will do for you.

The reason I say my hindsight is 20-20 is that I have been involved in

    AUBURN 2014 SCHEDULE Aug. 30 Arkansas  Sep. 6 San Jose State  Sep. 18 at Kansas State  Sep. 27 Louisiana Tech  Oct. 4 Louisiana State  Oct. 11 at Mississippi State  Oct. 25 South Carolina  Nov. 1 at Ole Miss  Nov. 8 Texas A&M  Nov. 15 at Georgia  Nov. 22 Samford  Nov. 29 at Alabama

AUBURN 2014 SCHEDULE
Aug. 30 Arkansas
Sep. 6 San Jose State
Sep. 18 at Kansas State
Sep. 27 Louisiana Tech
Oct. 4 Louisiana State
Oct. 11 at Mississippi State
Oct. 25 South Carolina
Nov. 1 at Ole Miss
Nov. 8 Texas A&M
Nov. 15 at Georgia
Nov. 22 Samford
Nov. 29 at Alabama

athletics in some way or another since my days as a youth. Sports has always been a safe haven for me keeping out of trouble and a way from illegal activities that could give a person a criminal record, landed him in jail or even prison.

The Auburn Tigers staged a large turnaround in 2013, improvising from a 3–9 record in 2012  to a 12-1 record in 2013 Auburn is coached by Gus Malzahn , who was in his first season at Auburn. The Tigers began the season unranked and were picked to finish fifth in the SEC West in the SEC Media Poll.

The Tigers won their first three games out of the gate last season, before losing to Louisiana State University 21-35. The Tigers then won the last eight games of the regular season to move to an 11-1 record and a SEC West division title. Auburn’s regular season was capped off by two improbable victories:  The Prayer at Jordan-Here and Kick Bama Kick, (Chris Davis’)  109 yard kick return to beat the Tide and win the Iron Bowl

The Tigers led the nation in rushing (335.69 yards per game). Auburn’s rushing attack  led by Trre Mason, who rushed for 1,621 yards and 22 touchdowns. Wide receiver Sammie Coates had 38 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns, which was good enough to rank him second in the nation on yards per reception (21.3). Quarterback Nick Marshalll threw for 1,759 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. Marshall also ran for 1,023 yards and 11 touchdown.

Defensively, the Tigers  led by Dee Ford, who came into the game with 8.5 sacks. Auburn’s defense as a whole had allowed 24.0 points per game in the season.

The 2014 Auburn Tigers football team will debut some new, young talent this coming season and has several talented returning players who contributed to last year’s SEC Championship team.

But due to Nick Marshall Marijuana citation in July Head Coach Gus Malazhn will elevate Jeremey Johnson, rising sophomore to the starter quarterback for the Arkansas game. The Razorbacks will travel to Jordan-Here Stadium face the Tigers in their home-opener of the 2014 season.  Marshall will see action later in this game.

Marshall  theTigers quarterback  has spent the off-season working with Auburn’s offensive coordinator working on his passing game. He will need to improve at his passing game if the team wants to repeat as SEC Champions. It’s difficult  repeat as SEC champs and  if they improve their arterial  attack this season, they have a shot at repeating  as SEC champions but they must improve their air attack this season. But It will not be  Harder if Marshall’s not under center or if he  does not improve his passing gameMarshall is a Heisman Trophy  hopeful this season and on other award watch lists for his football talents. Look for him to improve his game and lead the squad to another great season.He is the face of the program this year and true leader on the field, who know how to manage the game.

After a 2013 miracle season and SEC Championship crown that featured the nation’s No. 1 rushing attack, Auburn is hoping to keep the momentum going on the ground, even after the departure of Heisman finalist and school record holder Mason.

With the Auburn electing to run the ball on 72 percent of their possessions last season, defenses will  focuse on shutting down the read-option game between  Marshall and his top running back, who will most likely be Corey Grant or Cameron Artis-Payne.

Gus Malzahn, told reporters that is when his offense is on the field, it will tip the scales.

“We led the country in rushing last year,” Malzahn said. “When you do that, defenses have to take some chances. We’ve got to do a better job this year of making them pay when they do take their chances.”

With the start of Auburn’s football season just weeks away there are five new recruits Tiger fans should keep an eye this season

Tre Williams a five-star recruit at linebacker could see action early at linebacker one of the thinnest spot on the Auburn roster,Williams is a former safty who has a lot of speed on the field and has experience making defensive calls.

At wide receiver D’Haqulle Williams is the top junior college recruit in the nation, Williams brings a physical presence to the receiving group that could use another one.

Defensive back Derrick Moncrief a Prattville alum, who has spent two the last two years at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, was recruited specifically for the Star position in Ellis Johnson’s defense. With that role filled by 5-foot-9, 204 pound play-maker Robenson Therezie a year ago,the 6-3, 226 pound Moncrief gives Auburn a bigger option at the position.

With  Mason early departure from the Auburn football program to enter the NFL draft the Tigers had a big hole to fill at his position. Artis-Payne and Corey Grant will return but Roc Thomas, named the Gatorade Player of the Year in the Alabama after rushing for 2,211 yards and 32 TD’s, could add some punch to that group.

Kamryn Pettway ran for 1,402 yards and 17 touchdowns at Prattville this fall, but the 230-pounder could carve himself out a role as a blocking back with the graduation of Jay Prosch.

It’s hard to imagine that the nation’s No. 1 ranked rushing offense will drop off much even though its two best players, Mason and Robinson, decided to leave early for the NFL. Coach Malzahn has a system in place that guarantees ground success and quarterback Nick Marshall knows how to work this scheme. Much of the credit has also been attributed to an outstanding offensive line. Led by center Reese Dismukes this unit should be considered the strength of the team.

The Tigers have not been well-equipped stop opposing passing attacks. Expect some improvements to take place with better experience playing a role. The BCS National Championship Game showed some great potential in improving this area. But with teams gunning for Auburn this time around this reason has to do more. No one on this entire defense made the All-SEC team. Both a new kicker er must be added this season.

 As I look forward to this fall, I am already   starting to make predictions about how this Tiger team will do. However, so as not to spoil it for the rest of you I will once again wait until after the season to let you know how right I was.

Oregon’s Flashy Style Uniforms Coolest in College Football

 As an athlete when you look good, you feel good and that translates to playing better in the game. That is a statement echoed all across the sports world by athletes and coaches. This holds true to the University of Oregon Ducks of the Pacific-12 Conference. The Ducks have had one of the most electrifying , eye-popping colors and designed uniforms this decade  in college football.

The UO football team has been known in recent years for its unique uniform style, consisting of multiple color combinations of helmets, uniforms (both shirts and pants), socks, and shoes, resulting in a new uniform setup every week (not counting in-season changes to uniform designs). The frequent changes have led to criticism by alumni and football purists, though the changes have been often well-liked and praised by football recruits. Oregon alumnus Tinker Hatfield, an executive at Nike, has coordinated the new uniform schemes since Nike has had the outfitting rights for the Ducks since 1995.

The Oregon uniform underwent a radical change for the 1999 season, where new, Nike-designed gear featuring a redesigned “O” emblem with solid green helmets and jerseys with lightning yellow letters revealed a new look.. This began a period of unusually non-uniform standards for a typical college football team. Since 1999, Oregon has completely revised its uniform appearance roughly every three seasons. The frequent uniform changes and their typically flashy uniform have provoked some controversy. Fans of a more traditional approach to college football tend to ridicule each time new uniform is unveil, while younger fans and players—in particular, potential Oregon athletes—react more favorably to the flashy uniforms.

The football team used nine different football combinations in the 2005 season, but introduced even more combinations in the 2006 season. The new uniforms in 2006 provided 384 possible different combinations of jerseys, pants, helmets, socks, and shoes. A metallic-yellow colored helmet with silver flames, which debuted in the 2006 Las Vegas Bowl, increased the possible combinations. These uniforms were more technologically advanced than other uniforms, 28% lighter when dry, 34% lighter when wet, and greater durability with reinforcing diamond plating patterns at the joints. The Ducks wore the previously announced white helmets for the first time on October 20, 2007 in Seattle, when they played the Washington Huskies. In 2008, during the Arizona-Oregon game, they wore new, all black uniforms nicknamed “lights out”, but instead of the typical metal diamond plated shoulder pads, the new uniforms had a wing pattern of the livery.

Only once has the original “block UO” helmet emblem made a comeback, when worn   along with a throwback jersey, against Cal in 2009. However, the neo-throwback green jersey with gold letters and the modern logo instead of the “UO” on the yellow helmet,  in the 2009 Civil War.

For the Arizona game in 2008, Oregon unveiled a new uniform design based on the “lights out” design from the previous season featuring the “wings” pattern on the shoulder pads as well as a more simplified uniform design, while retaining the number font style of “Bellotti Bold” and the colors of green, black, white, yellow, grey, gold, and steel. This was the primary uniform design from 2009 through the 2011 regular season.

There was another uniform revision in 2012 at the  Rose Bowl and carried forward into the 2012 season, with the “wings” moving from the shoulder pads to the helmets as chrome decals, and a broader “feather” detail with iridescent fabric highlights. Five different helmets combinations were part of  the uniform kit.

On October 19, 2013, Oregon wore special Breast Cancer Awareness uniforms in a game against Washington State. In addition to new bold pink helmets, the Ducks wore pink Nike Vapor Talon Elite cleats, pink Nike Vapor Carbon Elite socks and pink Vapor Je gloves  coordinated with their black Nike Pro Combat uniform system. The special edition uniforms  designed to raise awareness and funds for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund as the helmets became auctioned items.

The morning of the  Ducks 2013  Bowl game Nike introduced another new uniform for Oregon,  As visitors in the Alamo Bowl, Oregon wore the white uniforms.

It’s all about speed. For the last decade Nike has continually evolved college football uniforms for the country’s best teams. Among these, the Oregon Ducks football uniforms are on the cutting edge of innovation, with the clear goal of optimizing athletic performance and speed on the field. On December 30, 2013Oregon took  the field wearing the latest Nike Pro Combat “Mach Speed” uniform, the most innovative Nike Pro Combat system of dress to date.

The uniform features an all-new chassis including the latest in lightweight fabric innovation built for maximum speed, ventilation and comfort. Drawing inspiration from some of the fastest athletes in the world, Nike has applied research and design across multiple sports to create one of the fastest uniforms on the field. Taking insights from Nike’s Swift Suit technology, the new Nike Mach Speed Football uniform fabric construction features an articulated fit to match the athlete’s motion of play. Ultimately this allows the athletes to move with the uniform fabrics, and not against them. At the waist, an updated griper draw cord locks the pant in place.

“We meet with the team to gain insights into what they need on the field,” said Todd Van Horne, Nike Football VP and Creative Director. “They’ve told us that uniform fit, range of motion, and airflow make a drastic difference on the field, and we are excited to give them a uniform that solves those problems and helps them do on the field.”

The new 2014 uniform design updates the traditional Duck wing pattern to cover the entire shoulder and arm panels. This bold, directional split-wing pattern update spreads out from the center of the chest and helps to give increased abrasion protection across the shoulders. The pant design showcases strong graphic embellishments, reading “Oregon” on the right leg and “Ducks” on the left. Oregon’s latest helmet design features a split wing pattern that mimics the shoulder design.

Steel silver wings that transition to lightning yellow at the armhole highlight the black uniform. Both the base layer top and socks match this lightening yellow color and the uniform’s black helmet features a steel silver wing mimicking the shoulder. Fighting Duck Green takes center stage atop the white uniform, coloring the shoulder wings and highlighting the base layer. A carbon fiber helmet embellished with lightning yellow wings finishes the white uniform look.

Continuing the Duck’s uniform evolution through the lens of speed, the 2014 Nike Mach Speed Oregon Uniform chassis and updated designs   integrates into the team’s existing wardrobe for the upcoming season.

 

Ultimate Frisbee Fever is Thriving in the Sports World

Ultimate Frisbee is catching on fast in local communities, college campuses and around the world. Most Ultimate Frisbee athletes look at the game as a way of life and not just a hobby but a real sport.

In a recent conversation with a captain of a local team he said when they are not practicing together or going to tournaments we just hangout with each other.

Welcome to the vast but mostly invisible sport of Ultimate  Frisbee, a sport that in some ways resembles football or soccer, only without the contact, expensive equipment or trash talking.

While Ultimate Frisbee seldom appears in the media, it’s quickly gaining recognition across the country. The sport has become more athletic and in recent years there has been a push to add the sport to the Olympic line-up.

In 2012 there were 5.1 million Ultimate players in the USA. Ultimate is be played across the world in pickup games and by recreational, school, club, and national teams at various age levels

Ultimate Frisbee game action from an Ultimate freebee tournament in North Carolina/Photo from Wikiped.com
Ultimate Frisbee game action from an Ultimate freebee tournament in North Carolina/Photo from Wikiped.com

and with open, women’s, and mixed tournaments. In 2013 two professional leagues were operating in North America. The 13th biannual national team World Championships were held in Sakai, Japan in July, 2012. USA won the open division, Japan won the women’s tournament, Canada took the mixed and masters’ titles, and the women masters’ event  captured by the USA .

Ultimate{ Frisbee] is every bit as competitive and exciting as any

other sport. Athletes are some times turned off by it because they do not think it’s a ligament sport, but it’s not a hobby at all.

In the Summer of 2011, the sport gained some major exposure in the Evergreen state and popularity when 80 teams came together to play in what was the largest coed tournament at the time at a 60 Acre  Park near Redmond, Washington for what would be called the world’s largest coed Ultimate Frisbee Tournament.

The annual Potlatch Tournament, hosted by the Northwest Ultimate Association, commonly referred to as Disc Northwest, included teams for the United States and Canada. Tournament organizers said that if the world championship weren’t scheduled at the same time in Hawaii teams from all over the globe would have been in attendance at the tournament that year.

Most tournaments on the national level of competition consist of 10 to 30 teams that make up a tournament event. The Potlatch tournament is an exception to the general rule and 30 of the 80 teams come from within Washington  for that tournament. The Northwest Ultimate Association has  3000 players, with 10 last leagues that make up 195 teams, said Mike Karen, Disc Northwest executive director.

Regardless of the level of competition a majority of ultimate Frisbee players point to the “spirit of the game” as common ground that draws them to the sport. Since there are no referees in Ultimate Frisbee, players must keep up their own level of fairness proper play along with calling their own fouls when contact occurs.

Ultimate players find that the sport is a good way to meet people–such as a pickup game at a local park  on a sunny day. Ultimate teams  from as people meet one another and can even be formed in the workplace. A perk of playing ultimate Frisbee is how cheap it is to get involved. All that you needed is a Frisbee and something to mark the field boundaries. Some players wear cheats but it is not required to take part in a game.

Playing ultimate Frisbee even for the most serious athletes is not a very lucrative activity. There is typically no prize money and teams have to pay their own way to and from tournaments and tournament fees. However, that does not matter to the hundreds of thousands of people who play in ultimate Frisbee leagues throughout the country. It’s the love and spirit of the game that they fancy the most.

Sports Concussions No Joking Matter, they need to be taken seriously

Concussions in sports have become a fact of life and a real hot-button issue at all levels of the sports world. A lot of research has been conducted on the subject to get a better understanding of how to make better equipment to make it safer for athletes to compete on the field of play. This is  something that needs to be taken seriously by athletes, coaches and parents because what might seem and look like a simple  blow can kill an athlete. Even hours or days after the blow happens.

A  concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a force delivered to  the head or body causing the brain to shake or rotate  in the skull violently. This injury results in the way the brain operates and functions. There is often change in personality, thinking or physical functioning of the athlete.

The Center of Decease Control estimates 1.6 million to 3.8 million concussions occur each year. Some studies done on concussions in sports  tackle  football  this is the most common sport with concussion risk for males (75% chance for concussion). While soccer is the most common sport with concussion risk for females (50% chance for concussion) some studies even suggest that females are twice as likely to sustain a concussion as male counterparts.

In 2003  Damon Jones, 16, passed away three days after suffering an injury and losing consciousness during a football game in Portville, N.Y.  His exact cause of death has not been made public. His teammates voted to end the season  two-weeks after his death. Jones’s death raised  lots of attention to the issue of concussions in sports and the media began talking about it on the national  level as it became a major topic of discussion. The Sports Concussion Institute  says 78% of concussions occur during games (as opposed to practices) on the institute website.

Jones is not the first high football player to die from a blow in a football game and he will not be the last based on history of the sport. Just Google sports concussions on the internet and you will find articles, sad stories of youths who suffered concussions while participating in sports. Although research is being conducted to try to make sports safer, for those athletes who take part each year.

Cleared To Play Organization Inc. reports on their website that a 2011 study of U.S. high schools with at least one athletic trainer on staff found that concussions accounted for nearly 15% of all sports related injuries reported to athletic trainers.

A few of the signs trainers, coaches and parents should look for, if they suspect their athlete has a concision, is a headache (85%) and Dizziness (70-80%). These are the most commonly reported symptoms immediately following concussions for injured athletes. It is estimated that 47% of blows go unreported by athletes because of they want to stay in the game and keep playing.

A few months back the NFL was in the news because a Judge had ruled in the players favor in a long ongoing lawsuit over concussions, when a group of former players sued the league. The award handed down from the bench was 765 million and the judge thought that might have been to low of a settlement. A federal judge denied preliminary approval of a $765 million settlement of  concussion claims, fearing it may not be enough to cover 20,000 retired players. U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody then requested more financial analysis from the parties.

Politicians in some states have introduced bills that would protect athletes who receive concussions while participating in sports activities. All but three states have strong safety laws in place on concussions in youth sports. These laws have been in place since May of 2009. All were designed and  modeled after  Washington State’s groundbreaking Zackery Lvastedt Law.

As a parent of a young athlete medical professionals say to remove the athlete immediately  from practice and games if you suspect your child has a concussion. Make sure the athlete is evaluated by a professional who has a background in concussions. Do not try to elevate the issues yourself. The athlete should not return to the sports activity until he or she is symptom free and have been cleared by a medical professional.

There is no way to completely prevent concussions but keeping equipment well maintained and checked often may help in the prevention of a serious concussion on the field of play or ice rink. The Heads UP campaign by the NFL teaches youths to tackle and block with their heads up and is good advice in helping prevent a concussion in football. So athletes play it safe out there and have a long career in sports. Parents be aware of your resources available on sports concussions and educate your athletes on concussions. Always remember that a concussion of any kind is no joking matter and not worth your child’s life.