Dan Wetzel

  • As free agency nears for Suh, Lions feel sense of urgency

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    ALLEN PARK, Mich. – They are the Children of the Calamity, now here on the brink of finally, possibly accomplishing something. The last thing they discuss, they say, even privately, is the past … or the future, because that could be just as fleeting and fragile.

    They are the byproduct of a bad franchise bottoming out; when you get so many top picks that you can't help but be the blind squirrel of the NFL draft (Matt Millen even picked one of them).

    It's resulted in this, life in an unfamiliar present, the Detroit Lions sitting at 10-4, the current second seed of the NFC playoff race, the postseason so close that they could earn a bid with just a Philadelphia loss or tie on Saturday. If not, well, Sunday brings a trip to the flailing Chicago Bears and starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen.

    "Man, there's been historical hurdles here from the jump," wide receiver Calvin Johnson said.

    "[I] focused on the game," Suh said.


  • Johnny Manziel flops in debut as Browns' starting QB, so what comes next?

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    CLEVELAND – It was just one game. That's what everyone kept saying here after the much-hyped first NFL start for Johnny Manziel ended with a scoreboard reading Cincinnati 30-0. The Cleveland quarterback finished with two picks, three sacks taken, no touchdowns and little promise.

    It was just one game, and you can't write off a career in just one game. That's what everyone kept saying. How about three games, though?

    Manziel is going to remain the starter now that Cleveland's playoff hopes are all but over. If he shows as little at Carolina and Baltimore as he showed here Sunday, can the Browns then make a clear evaluation of what they traded up to draft in the first round?

    "Yeah, you'll be able to tell," coach Mike Pettine said. "I see your point [about] not having a full season, but three games, plus the experience he got [coming off the bench] in Buffalo, I think, will be a decent sample. It's not obviously as big of a sample size [as] we could have, but it's a good amount."

    He's going to have to deliver at least a little bit or this could break bad in a hurry.


    The more Pettine talked, the less it felt like just one game.

  • Dan Wetzel's College Football Podcast: The playoff aftermath

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    Ian Fitzsimmons has hosted radio shows in Birmingham, Ala., and Columbus, Ohio – among other places – and currently works at ESPN Dallas, where there’s plenty of TCU and Baylor talk. So who better to have on the College Football Podcast now that the playoff field is set?

    The conversation begins by celebrating Baylor coach Art Briles for his unique logic and then pretty much goes out of control after that.

    [ Listen to all of Dan Wetzel's college football podcasts here ]

    Discussion points include: why TCU and Baylor got left out of the College Football Playoff; coaches bonuses; non-conference scheduling; Cinderella; brand bias; whether beating the Vegas spread by 61 is the most impressive victory in college football history; Ariel; why ’Bama fans are overconfident; and Midwest recruiting trends. Also discussed: Should injuries matter? How about a player’s death? Can Florida State stop Oregon’s offense at all? It’s all that and a bunch of other stuff, too.

    There are a lot of absurd tangents.

    Semifinal game predictions are also made.

    More NCAA football coverage from Yahoo Sports:

  • Big 12 pointing fingers, mulling change after being left out of College Football Playoff

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    GRAPEVINE, Texas – Big 12 athletic directors are scheduled to meet Monday in New York City, a gathering that Baylor's Ian McCaw predicted would be "intense."

    And that was even before McCaw knew the league would be shut out of the inaugural College Football Playoff, a field which features No. 1 Alabama against No. 4 Ohio State and No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State in a New Year's Day doubleheader. The winners meet in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 12.

    Left out and left in a heap was the Big 12, dealing with regret, finger pointing, confusion and, now, sure-to-be-heated debates ranging from non-conference scheduling priorities to expansion of the playoff, the conference or both.

    "We're smarting today," commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.

    The commissioner's decisions and words were under attack all weekend, most directly when Art Briles confronted him late Saturday down in Waco. The Baylor coach was upset the league was using a "co-champion" distinction rather than giving the Bears the full weight of the title because of their head-to-head victory over TCU. Briles felt it might hurt the cause of Baylor, who finished fifth.


  • Ohio State beats out Big 12 teams as playoff field is set

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    GRAPEVINE, Texas – The inaugural College Football Playoff field was set Sunday and it arrived with both excitement, anticipation and other staples of the sport … controversy and bitterness.

    No. 1 Alabama (12-1) against No. 4 Ohio State in New Orleans on the evening of Jan. 1. The game will be preceded by No. 2 Oregon (12-1) against No. 3 Florida State in Pasadena, Calif. The winners will meet in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 12.

    The matchups are tantalizing – Nick Saban vs. Urban Meyer, Jameis Winston vs. Marcus Mariota, who will likely follow Winston as a Heisman Trophy winner. The one-off, elimination nature of a playoff is too. College fans had long ago grown frustrated with the old Bowl Championship Series and now the modern era is here.

    And it arrives with screams of delight and howls of protest, particularly down here in Texas.

    Ohio State surged into the top four on the strength of a 59-0 annihilation of Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game. It gave the Buckeyes (12-1), which were ranked fifth last week, the bonus they needed to overcome a bad loss at home to Virginia Tech and the general weakness of the Big Ten conference.

    Regardless, it wasn't enough. The deal is set.

  • Tensions boil over despite vital win as Baylor ponders potentially missing playoff

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    WACO, Texas – There on the back of a make-shift stage, set up in the middle of McLane Stadium and surrounded by what felt like half of Central Texas, Baylor football coach Art Briles ran into Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby.

    Suddenly this wasn't just another feel-food league trophy presentation.

    Briles, 59, began an animated and at times heated conversation with the commissioner, using a pointed finger and waved hands to punctuate a clearly impassioned argument. Bowlsby didn't back down, even as Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett got involved too.

    Bowlsby was outmanned and perhaps out-argued though by Briles, a product of the little old West Texas town of Rule, where he long ago learned not to take any crap from anyone.

    Depending on whom you ask, Baylor earned either the full league championship or a share of it with TCU on Saturday, courtesy of an excellent 38-27 victory over Kansas State.

    So Briles let Bowlsby know his opinion, with everyone watching.

    This is how heated the chase for the final college football playoff spot got here in Texas.


  • TCU's statement: How can committee punish a team after it wins 55-3?

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    FORT WORTH, Texas – A week ago, the 12 members of the College Football Playoff selection committee pored through their statistics, comparatives and scouting reports on TCU and deemed the Horned Frogs the third best team in America.

    After a 55-3 domination of Iowa State in front of chanting, purple-clad fans here Saturday, it's hard to imagine how that opinion could change.

    "I don't think we did anything today that hurt ourselves," coach Gary Patterson said.

    Iowa State has just two wins and wasn't expected to mount much of a challenge. It didn't. TCU outgained the Cyclones 772 to 236, raked up an average of 8.7 yards per play and could have spun the Amon G. Carter Stadium scoreboard even more, but elected to turn the ball over on downs by taking a series of knees while sitting on the ISU 6-yard line.

    "I think we did it at the end of the ballgame like we did it at the start," Patterson said. "We did it with class."

    "I love you," he shouted to the fans.

    "The Titanic passed the eye test too," one read.


  • Why Mark Helfrich has given Oregon reason to stop missing Chip Kelly

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago

    SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The old coaching adage says you never want to be the guy who replaces the legend. To do so is to find yourself competing against not just present-day opponents but memories of past glories and the outsized belief of what your predecessor would've perfectly done.

    This is true enough when the legend is old and retired. It's even tougher when he's still active, still on top of his game and – in the case of the University of Oregon and its logistics king Chip Kelly – just moved to the NFL where each Sunday everyone can watch him still revolutionizing the game.

    [Oregon routs Arizona: Should Ducks be ranked No. 1 for playoff?]

    Helfrich was accepting congratulatory hugs from assistant coaches during that final minute when his players snagged a big water jug, snuck up behind him and dumped it over his head, offering not just a celebratory bath but also a baptism of credibility.

    Chip Kelly is gone. Oregon is still here.

    Maybe Helfrich was too nice. Maybe he wasn't experienced enough. Maybe he just wasn't Chip Kelly.

  • Oregon makes case for No. 1 ranking in College Football Playoff

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago

    SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The College Football Playoff has its first ever participant, and about the only question is whether it will wind up the No. 1 seed overall.

    Oregon (12-1) won't officially be given a spot in the inaugural four-team postseason event until the field is announced at 12:45 p.m. ET Sunday, but after a 51-13 blitzkrieg of Arizona here at the Pac-12 championship game, the Ducks are in.

    Oregon is currently ranked second in the college football committee rankings behind No. 1 Alabama. On Friday, the Ducks made their case for the top spot overall, even if the Crimson Tide win the SEC title Saturday, with one of the most dominating performances of the season.

    Oregon's resume? Four victories over current top-25 teams, the runaway championship of a strong league and almost complete "game control" for most of the season. In their 12 victories, the Ducks trailed for just 39 minutes, 23 seconds total – or just 5.5 percent of play – and were behind just once at halftime (24-18 to Michigan State) and never in the fourth quarter. Each of those 12 victories was essentially put away fairly early with the Ducks leading for an average of 45:11 per game.

  • Nebraska hired a good coach but can Mike Riley be a great recruiter?

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 16 days ago

    Nebraska surprised much of college football by plucking Mike Riley out of Oregon State, where across two stints he'd been the head coach for 14 seasons, including consecutively since 2003.

    Riley, 61, is a likeable guy, approachable, smart and clearly a competent coach. Corvallis isn't the easiest place to win but he built a respectably successful program there. He's also spent three years – 1999-2001 – as the head coach of the San Diego Chargers and previously won the 1988 and 1990 Grey Cups in Canada with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The guy can coach.

    It's one of numerous reasons for Nebraska fans to be high on the hire. Here are two more:

    Texas and California.

    The greatest challenge for the Cornhuskers is finding talent. This has always been the biggest hurdle for a program in a state of just 1.8 million people that produce few, if any, top recruits.

    Counting the current senior class, Nebraska high schools have produced just one Rivals.com four-star recruit in the last four years (current Husker linebacker Josh Banderas). There have been zero five stars.

    Needless to say everyone has that these days.

    Which brings us to Mike Riley, California and Texas.