Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 6 hrs ago
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For many years, Bob Baffert has been the most recognizable face in thoroughbred racing. The sunglasses, the silver hair, all the big races won – they have combined to make the trainer a fan magnet. Somebody is always coming up to say hello, especially in a bedrock racing town like this one.
Baffert's mobility has been reduced even further this spring.
In years past at Churchill Downs, he couldn't move more than 20 feet without being stopped. On the short walk from the track to his Barn 33 here Tuesday morning, he was approached roughly every five feet. When he slowed down for one group, here came another, fumbling for iPhones and producing memorabilia for him to sign.
"It's all about photographs and autographs in my life," Baffert said, half-joking.
Celebrity status was fully conferred after his dazzling colt, American Pharoah, won the Triple Crown last spring. That ended a 37-year drought between crowns, a deprivation that came to hold racing hostage as it churned through the same cycle of hope in Louisville and Baltimore followed by disappointment in New York.
Could it ever be done again? There were legions of doubters, myself included.
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 1 day ago
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The favorite for Saturday's 142nd Kentucky Derby is a colt named Nyquist. Fortunately, he is unable to complain about the lack of respect he has been accorded.
Because if Nyquist were an athlete equipped with vocal chords, we would hear no end about the haters and doubters in his path. This would be a Chip on the Shoulder Special, a succession of laments about being unloved by the press and the betting public.
Here is why: Nyquist is undefeated, a perfect 7-0 in his lifetime, a record rarely carried into the Run for the Roses. He stamped himself as North America's premier 2-year-old colt last year by winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He stamped himself as the Derby favorite on April 2 by winning a much-anticipated Florida Derby, dominating his showdown with fellow unbeaten Mohaymen.
Yet the embrace of Nyquist has been restrained, to say the least. The hype train has not left the station.
"Maybe Nyquist isn't getting the respect he deserves," said rival trainer Todd Pletcher, who will send Outwork and Destin to post in the Derby, "because all he does is win."
So Nyquist is battling bad timing. And bad times.
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago
One source told Yahoo Sports: “This information is as compelling and incredible as you can get at the NCAA. But it’s not a slam dunk. They’re going to have a hard time proving it.”
But another said of the Rebels: “They’re screwed.”
This is one of the problems with the complex world of NCAA rules and procedures. Even those well-versed in them can see a situation very differently.
All three sources agreed on one thing: further investigation of Ole Miss undoubtedly already has begun. The school released a statement Friday saying it “will aggressively investigate and fully cooperate with the NCAA and the SEC.” And the NCAA assuredly has been in communication with the school. (The NCAA refuses to comment on current investigations; Ole Miss in January received a Notice of Allegations alleging around 30 violations in football, women’s basketball and track. The school has not released the notice.)
One source said the NCAA will “try to find independent corroborating evidence."
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 5 days ago
Mississippi football has spent three years walking a high wire without a net.
Thursday night, after several wobbles but just inches from finishing this dangerously ambitious walk in triumph, the Rebels fell.
It could be a very hard landing.
The first round of the NFL draft, generally a celebration for young men and the schools they attended, turned into a real-time nightmare for Ole Miss and a stunning series of embarrassments for its star offensive tackle, Laremy Tunsil. In a viciously timed display of social-media revenge, someone apparently hacked into Tunsil’s Twitter and Instagram accounts – posting information that led the No. 13 pick to admitting that a released video of him smoking what appears to be marijuana in a gas mask was real, and apparently admitting that he took money from an Ole Miss staffer while a player for the Rebels.
It didn’t end the way the Rebels envisioned.
More NFL draft coverage from Yahoo Sports:
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 9 days ago
For years, people have been asking when NCAA justice would be delivered unto North Carolina for its 18 years of academic misconduct that benefited more than 1,000 athletes.
Those questions intensified as the Tar Heels men's basketball program – whose players were proportionally one of the most enthusiastic participants in the African and Afro-American Studies bogus classes scandal – advanced to this year's NCAA tournament championship game. The sense among many fan bases was that the Tar Heels were getting away scot-free, and those fan bases wanted to know when the hammer would fall.
Today, we are closer to an answer.
And that answer looks even more like never.
The school received an amended NCAA Notice of Allegations Monday, nearly 11 months after the initial notice arrived. There still are five Level I allegations – the most serious violations in the NCAA penalty structure – but some things have changed.
"I think that is a question for the NCAA," he said. "I've got to deal with the five we have."
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago
When Ludacris' ludicrous shopping list for his appearance at Georgia's G-Day spring football game became public Tuesday, the questions came quickly:
How much did all this cost?
And how hard was it to find?
There was only one thing for a reporter to do: get to the grocery store with Luda's list and price it out. So that's what I did Wednesday morning, putting myself in the role of Georgia's shopper for the rap star who would perform prior to Kirby Smart's first public show as football coach of the Bulldogs.
About 80 minutes of retail scavenger hunting later, my empathy for the unknown Georgia athletic department staffer assigned to this chore was immense. Ludacris was booked in a hurry (just a few days before the game), and so the shopping had to be done in a hurry. This required SEC speed.
Damn Good Dawg, as they say in Athens.
In addition to the dozen white towels ("No old towels," the rider says) and a meal for 10, here is a verbatim, line-item look at what it cost to properly pamper Mr. Cris:
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago
MESA, Ariz. – There is no greater student of the sport of swimming than the greatest of all swimmers, Michael Phelps.
So rest assured, he’s been watching the world as several of the top swimming nations recently staged their Olympic qualifying meets. It’s time to start figuring out where Phelps and the other Americans stand as they head toward the Olympic trials in Omaha in June.
“That’s something I’ve always paid attention to my whole career,” Phelps said here Wednesday, a day before he will compete in the Mesa Arena Pro swim meet as the last competitive tune-up before Omaha. “It gives us an idea where the rest of the world is, and where we need to be to be in the mix.”
Right now, not a single American male is No. 1 in the world in any of the 13 individual events that will be contested in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August. Of course, none of the top Americans have competed on full rest yet in 2016, so that assuredly will change after the U.S. trials. For now, though, at least the Yanks can start to see who the prime competition will be.
“Those guys are tough,” Phelps said. “They have so many younger guys coming up; that’s really exciting to me.”
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 23 days ago
Just seven of the 65 basketball coaching jobs in power-five football conferences have come open in 2016, a low number. Most of the replacements made sense.
At Oklahoma State, Travis Ford was replaced by Stephen F. Austin coach Brad Underwood. His 89-14 record in three seasons, including two NCAA tournament victories, pretty much demanded an upgrade.
At Rutgers, Eddie Jordan was replaced by Stony Brook’s Steve Pikiell. Any change is good at the State University of New Jersey, which lunged at Jordan as a stop-the-bleeding hire after the Mike Rice Jr. fiasco. Pikiell, with five straight 20-win seasons and a ’16 NCAA tournament berth, should improve the miserable product immediately.
At TCU, they hit an alma-mater home run with the hiring of Jamie Dixon away from Pittsburgh. This is instant credibility for a program that had very little.
And then there is the temporary insanity that seems to have gripped the Atlantic Coast Conference – specifically Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. The hires there, made by a pair of respected athletic directors, boggle the mind.
Buy your season tickets today!
Memphis’ final Pomeroy Rating in 2016: 72. Georgia Tech’s, under Gregory: 49.
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 28 days ago
Louisville is self-imposing more sanctions on its men's basketball team.
The school will announce Wednesday that it is stripping itself of two scholarships and two official visits in the coming years. The scholarship reductions, from the NCAA maximum of 13, will be one apiece for 2017-18 and 2018-19. The official visit reductions will be one apiece this year and in 2016-17.
Louisville will also reduce its recruiting days by 30 this year – missing 24 this month and the remaining six in July. That is an approximate 24 percent reduction in recruiting opportunities for the season.
"After much deliberation, the University believes that self-imposing these penalties is appropriate," outside legal counsel Steve Thompson said in a Louisville release issued Wednesday. "While the University could elect to wait until the infractions process is complete, those consulted agree that these penalties are consistent with NCAA legislation, and imposing these penalties now is the right thing to do and may advance the University's goal of expediting resolution of this matter."
Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 29 days ago
HOUSTON – Kris Jenkins had the national championship trophy in his hands. National championship hat on his head. National championship net threaded through the back of the hat.
As NRG Stadium still buzzed with the aftershocks from the greatest ending the NCAA tournament has ever seen, Jenkins stood on the podium and faced the stadium big screen. He was waiting for the show every college basketball player dreams of starring in.
The music started, and he sucked in his lips. “One Shining Moment” played. Kris Jenkins watched – still in something of a dream state – and shook his head. Like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
When the video montage of the 2016 tournament came to its final scene – Jenkins swishing the buzzer-beating 3-pointer that lifted Villanova past North Carolina, 77-74, a climactic shot that pushes Lorenzo Charles, Keith Smart, Mario Chalmers, Christian Laettner and every other hero down a notch in March Madness lore – Jenkins nodded.
Making the shot? He could believe that.
“Kris Jenkins lives for that moment,” Villanova coach Jay Wright had said moments earlier.
“Wow,” he thought, “we’re really national champions. Who would have thought?”