Dan Wetzel

  • How Nick Saban's dominance impacted coaching futures of Mark Richt, Les Miles

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago

    Each situation is unique, with many disparate reasons for finding itself in a state of tumult, but there is one item on every list across whatever plagues the (insert name) SEC program near you.

    Nick Saban.

    Alabama hired Saban in 2007 and by 2008 he had college football's modern-day juggernaut up and firing. He's won three national titles since while going for a fourth this season, will play in his fifth SEC championship game Saturday against Florida and has gone 57-5 in regular-season play, including 35-5 in the SEC, over the past five seasons.

    Essentially, no one can beat Saban's Crimson Tide, at least not regularly.

    This is a key reason why Georgia and its longtime, highly successful and high-class coach, Mark Richt, parted ways on Sunday and why LSU tried to fire its longtime, highly successful and high-class coach, Les Miles, on Saturday (public sentiment forced the administration to reverse course).

    That Kirby Smart, Saban's defensive coordinator, is the favorite to take over in Athens is the most obvious sign of Tuscaloosa envy.

  • Why this win over Michigan meant so much to Ohio State's Urban Meyer

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 2 days ago

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Eight-year-old Jacob Mahoney signed – not sung, signed – the national anthem just before noon here Saturday in an old, cavernous stadium before the renewal of an old, storied rivalry.

    Urban Meyer was over near the Ohio State sideline, hand on heart, eyes on the American flag, but he couldn't stand still, couldn't contain the anticipation ripping through him. As the Michigan band played and Jacob's hands moved, Meyer rocked back and forth before breaking into a sort-of mini pace – two steps forward, two steps back, one to the side, one back again.

    This was the Michigan game, which always carries a heightened importance to Meyer. And this was the first of what is expected to be many significant clashes with Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, who in 11 months brought much fanfare and clear improvement. There was no doubt Meyer wanted to make a statement to start this thing, wanted to remind everyone who was still in charge in these parts.

    This was way more than that, though.

    "That was one of the hollowest feelings," Meyer said. "That was as hollow after a game as I've ever felt."

    Meyer 1, Harbaugh 0.

  • If Notre Dame doesn't make the College Football Playoff, don't blame its independent status

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    Notre Dame plays at Stanford Saturday, and even with a victory it could easily find itself out of the top four in Tuesday's rankings and out of the playoff by next Sunday. Or, it could find its way in.

    Nothing is certain.

    Well, except this: Neither outcome is proof Notre Dame "needs to join a conference," as so many of its critics like to scream.

    Of course, many of these same people used to shout just a couple years ago that "Notre Dame will never be good again," because, as they liked to note, Notre Dame is "irrelevant" … so irrelevant, in fact, we like to argue incessantly about its a) irrelevancy, in part, because it b) needs to join a conference.

    Obviously Notre Dame got good and relevant again once it hired a great coach, the same way it works with every program. Remember when Alabama was "irrelevant" for a decade before Nick Saban, or Michigan got relevant immediately after bringing in Jim Harbaugh?

    Let's start with one simple fact: Notre Dame isn't joining a conference.

    There are few reasons for the reality of Notre Dame's current plight.

    That's like a Rivals.com dream come true.

    More college football coverage:

  • Johnny Manziel's partying, lack of professionalism jeopardize his career

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    Mike Pettine wore the look of someone tired of being played the fool. Tired that his shot at being an NFL head coach had been cursed by the decision to gamble on Johnny Manziel when Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr were on the board.

    Tired of the endless circus of Johnny Drama – the unprepared games, the offseason rehab, the social media pictures of Johnny drinking on an inflatable swan, of Johnny drawing bubbles on a bottle, of Johnny being Johnny.

    Tired that after all of that he'd still gifted Manziel the opportunity of a lifetime: six games as the starter of the Cleveland Browns to prove to this franchise, or any franchise, that he was mature and professional enough to maximize some of that innate ability and be a player in this league.

    And then Johnny hit the clubs in College Station during an off weekend earlier this month due to a Thursday night game. Then he hit the clubs in Austin during the recent bye week. And then when pictures and video emerged he went with some lame excuse like they might be old … not that they were old, just that hey, who knows they might be?

    Make no mistake, Pettine announced the decision but Manziel made it with his actions.

  • Jeff Gordon did get his perfect ending

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Jeff Gordon couldn't sleep. He thought he should, thought he should get as much rest as possible before he knew what was to come.

    Sunday promised a surreal combination, equal parts celebrating what had been done across a 24-year, 797th race career, while still pursuing what could still be won, a shot at a 94th victory and fifth Cup championship.

    On the track it wouldn't go Gordon's way; he finished sixth on the day and third for the title – Kyle Busch won both – but at that moment Sunday morning, the promise of the opportunity was too much to roll over and doze back off. The energy woke him; Gordon was 44 going on 14.

    So he got out of bed in his motor coach, pulled back a curtain and coincidentally saw his mother Carol walking by. He called to her and invited her in. Carol is usually hesitant to upset the race day routine – Gordon likes to be alone to focus – but now here they were, just the two of them, memories and emotions flowing over early coffee.



    Mario Andretti?

  • 'I hate Jeff Gordon'

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were driving around in a golf cart, whipping past some of the campsites fans had set up at Watkins Glen International in central New York. This was about a decade or so ago.

    That's when they spotted a giant plywood display that read, "I hate Jeff Gordon."

    By that point, Gordon had already won four Cup championships but was still dealing with long-held backlash from his entry into the sport as a supposed pretty boy sensation out of California. He was Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s chief rival for years and that didn't help his popularity.

    It did allow him to simultaneously bring new fans into the sport, and turn old ones against him.

    When they saw the sign at Watkins Glen, Johnson started laughing, and not just because that someone went through the trouble of making it, but that it was painted pink and was adorned with pictures of Gordon's face on ballerinas and Teletubbies and things like that.

    It was so absurd Gordon laughed too.

    "I'm going over there," Gordon told Johnson.

    To know Gordon is to like him, after all – even Dale Sr. said that.

    "Hey Gordon," the guy shouted, "you still [expletive]."


  • Bill Belichick's stiff-arm of camouflage campaign an unlikely coincidence

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago

    In November, fresh off having players wear pink to raise awareness of breast cancer, the NFL put its coaches in camouflage as part of its "Salute To Service" campaign.

    This is different than when teams were paid by the Department of Defense to stage patriotic/pro-military acts like bringing soldiers out on the field and asking fans to cheer. Sen. John McCain, among others, ripped that as "paid patriotism" and humbled the league and its teams into returning $6.8 million.

    This campaign, per the league press release, is not about profit (no government money is involved) but because "supporting the military is part of the fabric of the NFL."

    So coaches are wearing camo hats and camo sweatshirts and even camo headsets … all of which you can purchase. The USO, the Wounded Warrior Project and the Pat Tillman Foundation are beneficiaries.

    Well, not all the coaches are wearing camo.

    The New England Patriots' Bill Belichick has yet to put any on. He has worn a pin with camouflage on it, but not the full garb. A couple other coaches have worn only the camo headsets or the pin, but it's no surprise Belichick has gone low-key.


    How at odds?

  • Holly Holm is the superior fighter, but does that make Ronda Rousey a fraud?

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    In February, Ronda Rousey is set to begin filming a remake of the movie "Road House." She'll reprise Patrick Swayze's role of Dalton, the I-want-you-to-be-nice-until-it's-time-to-not-be-nice bouncer.

    It is precisely the kind of thing that her critics are howling about in the wake of her knockout defeat to Holly Holm Saturday for the UFC bantamweight title. Does she want to be an actress or a fighter? Is she real or an overhyped fraud?

    Is she just the real-life version of another cinematic classic character, the business-minded Apollo Creed walking straight into Holm's unknown underdog who didn't know it was a damn show? Or maybe she was a distracted Mike Tyson to Holm's Buster Douglas?

    Let's relax on all of that.

    It isn't fair to Rousey. It isn't fair to Holm. It isn't accurate enough (there may be elements of truth, but just elements), let alone placed properly in perspective.

    She might have even failed to take the fight as seriously as she should have – she certainly looked winded just seconds in.

  • Broncos' Peyton Manning dilemma validates Archie Manning's quip: 'It's why I hate football'

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    There is a unique depression that permeates the losing locker room after a season-ending defeat. It doesn't matter the sport. It doesn't matter whether it is preps or pros.

    The Super Bowl tends to be uniquely cruel, though, maybe because of the hype, maybe because of the all-encompassing sacrifice, maybe because of the violence that lingers across life.

    You arrive and unpack a childhood dream. You leave one and done, pulling a suitcase full of what-ifs.

    Peyton Manning had lost plenty of big games before, lost a Super Bowl even, which may have explained his mood after Seattle bludgeoned Denver, 43-8, two Februarys ago in MetLife Stadium. This wasn't just the normal despair or depression. There was an emotionless air of resignation and perhaps fear over the window that cruelly closes on all careers.

    "That's football," Archie Manning said dryly that day while waiting for Peyton. "It's why I hate football."

    Manning's boss in Denver, John Elway got the storybook, consecutive Super Bowls before walking away.

    Just about everyone else, even the great Peyton Manning, gets this – beaten up and doubted down until it ends, until it just ends.

  • Leonard Fournette, student-athletes should be encouraged to make money

    Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports 18 days ago

    The NCAA has asked LSU to investigate whether star running back Leonard Fournette and his family received discounted services in 2014 to set up a business and a website where they planned to sell Fournette merchandise, USA Today reported this week.

    The NCAA shut down the online business, which was going to sell hats and T-shirts with Fournette's "BUGA Nation" catchphrase, in a single day. It's believed no product was ever sold.

    Fournette may indeed have violated some NCAA rules by receiving a discount based on his fame as a player. We'll see. Fournette is expected to play Saturday against Arkansas.

    Who knows how serious the NCAA will take this long term.

    It certainly shouldn't take it far.

    A family-owned merchandise website isn't a problem. It's actually a common-sense future for college sports – which is under legal, political and, at least some believe, ethical pressure – to properly compensate its athletes, particularly high-profile ones such as Fournette.

    So why shouldn't Fournette get in on it? Colleges should be encouraging students to start their own businesses, not prohibiting it.

    And let that be the start.

    It's none of those things.