Pat Forde

  • Why it's vital for the SEC to tackle talk of race, Confederate flag head-on

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 11 days ago

    HOOVER, Ala. – If you want to see Southeastern Conference football coaches squirm like they’re down three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, ask them about the Confederate flag.

    Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen issued 124 words in response to a question about the flag, which flies at the capitol of the state where he coaches – the presence of which prevents the state from hosting any NCAA or SEC championship events. Mullen’s answer was an exercise in evasion.

    “I don’t see it very often,” Mullen said. “We don’t have it on our campus. I do know we’re the most diverse campus in the Southeastern Conference. I know the university embraces that diversity as a whole. I certainly embrace that diversity. We’re so diverse, they have a Yankee as the head football coach in the Southeastern Conference [Mullen hails from New England].

    “I think it’s something that on a national level is getting an awful lot of attention right now, that people are really looking into how we can make things better in the state of Mississippi. And I hope as a university we’re out on the forefront trying to help make things better with the type of school that we have and the diversity we have in our school.”


  • Nick Saban needs to stop making excuses and solve Alabama's real problems

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 12 days ago

    HOOVER, Ala. – Poor Nick Saban. The sport of football keeps conspiring against him.

    You remember when the Alabama coach was dismayed by the accelerating pace of play brought on by no-huddle offenses? His objections were all about player safety, of course, and had nothing to do with Southeastern Conference Western Division opponents like Auburn and Texas A&M bringing an uncomfortable tempo into Saban's backyard.

    Now, it's that meddlesome National Football League and its problematic draft schedule. A coach who sells the NFL to recruits like nobody else seems to think the league's disclosure of draft information to his players hurt Alabama's focus and preparation for the College Football Playoff semifinal last season.

    Players requesting draft feedback from the NFL have to declare by Dec. 15. Saban said here Tuesday that the feedback was received around Christmas. The playoff game against Ohio State was played Jan. 1, with the Crimson Tide losing in a sizable upset.

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  • Why Steve Spurrier couldn't retire, and why college football is better for it

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 13 days ago

    HOOVER, Ala. – Steve Spurrier tacitly acknowledged Tuesday that he nearly hung it up at South Carolina after a disappointing 7-6 season in 2014.

    Thankfully for America and for sportswriter kind, the Head Ball Coach reconsidered and returned.

    To paraphrase Col. Nathan Jessup, we want Steve Spurrier at that podium. We need Steve Spurrier at that podium.

    In a sport of increasing coaching blandness, the 70-year-old Spurrier continues to speak his mind freely, cheekily and hilariously. He’s the second-oldest coach in FBS, behind only Kansas State’s Bill Snyder (75), so he could hang it up at any time. But we will have him to entertain us for at least one more season.

    “I breezed right through age 60, breezed right through 65, and I’m going to try my best to breeze right on through 70,” Spurrier said. “We’ve got two people running for president – I think Hillary [Clinton] and Donald Trump are both 69. Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski] at Duke, he’s still doing pretty good at, I think, 69 also [Actually 68].

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  • Five things the stumbling SEC can do to regain its college football stranglehold

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    HOOVER, Ala. – It is a clear sign of the Southeastern Conference’s sense of self-importance that its football media days last twice as long as any other league’s.

    They go four days here in the SEC, as opposed to two at ordinary little leagues like the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference – leagues which, it should be pointed out, have won the last two national championships after a seven-year run of SEC hegemony. To kick off this understated little production – complete this year with massive hype/coverage on the SEC Network – new commissioner Greg Sankey stated a three-word credo that will be his focus: Scholars, Champions and Leaders. Here was his modest “vision statement” for each:

    “For the word scholars, we want to graduate every student-athlete,” Sankey said. “For champions, we want to win every championship – but you may have assumed that already. And for leaders, we seek literally to influence the world.”

    Oh, is that all?

    “Many of you may react by saying that’s simply not possible,” Sankey continued. “But keep this in mind, there is no great achievement that was ever produced by an attempt to be average, and we seek to be excellent.”

  • 40 schedule observations for this college football season

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 21 days ago

    It’s the middle of summer, and man cannot live by “Shark Week” alone. So it’s time for a college football intervention. Forty observations on the 2015 schedule that you can use to amaze and entertain your friends:

    1. Toughest September: BYU. The Cougars open at Nebraska, home against Boise State, at UCLA, at Michigan. Just for kicks, BYU follows that Michigan game with a short-turnaround Friday contest against Connecticut on Oct. 2. Being an independent is fun, isn’t it, Bronco Mendenhall?

    2. Toughest October: Miami. The Hurricanes are at Cincinnati on a Thursday, then at Florida State, home against Virginia Tech and Clemson, and at Duke on Halloween. Combined 2014 record of those opponents: 49-18.

    3. Toughest November: Baylor. The Bears are at Kansas State on a Thursday night, home against Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State and at TCU on the day after Thanksgiving with the Big 12 (undisputed!) title perhaps on the line in that one.

    6. Jim Harbaugh takes an eight-game, five-year-old winning streak as a college coach into Salt Lake City.

    16. The downside of the Penn State schedule: it plays the first 10 weekends without a bye, and catches both Maryland and Northwestern coming off open weeks.

  • Bo Ryan's departure will mean the end of an old-school era

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 28 days ago

    Wisconsin announced Monday that Bo Ryan will retire in 2016, and that will pretty much mark the end of an era in college basketball.

    Ryan may well be the last guy to win big – really big – by building teams like it's still the 1970s.

    Very little happens in a hurry in Ryan's program, which runs counter to our hurry-up society.

    He will have seven players who redshirted on his final Badgers team. He had six of them on the team that lost to Duke in April's national championship game, including starter Josh Gasser and key sub Duje Dukan. Hardly anyone redshirts basketball players anymore, and almost never in bulk.

    In a time when John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Bill Self, Sean Miller and others go after national titles with one-and-done recruits, Ryan made consecutive Final Fours with rosters built on patience and long-term growth. Doing it in his late 60s, at the end of a lifetime of coaching, validates a philosophy many believed to be outdated.

    "I like trying to build from within," he said. "That's just the way I am."


  • John Calipari accomplishes his prized goal: watching Kentucky players get drafted

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    The Kentucky basketball postseason media guide cover last March featured the following motto:

    "All for one goal."

    What the media guide didn't tell us was that the goal wasn't some silly national title. It wasn't a 40-0 season and a spot in college basketball history. It wasn't hanging the school's ninth championship banner from the rafters of Rupp Arena.

    No, the goal was Thursday night. NBA draft night.

    We know this because Kentucky coach John Calipari said so last month. Cal told a group he spoke to in Rupp: "Last year we started the season with a goal. You may think it was to win a national title or win all the games, [but] it was to get eight players drafted."

    ESPN's Heather Cox called him on that in the green room on Thursday night, mentioning that Calipari has said the NBA draft is "more important" than winning a national title.

    Cal's response (one of his five appearances on camera on the night): "I never said that."

    Well, not in those exact words. But if there is a difference between what Cox said and what Cal said last month, it's a microscopic one.

    Whatever. The draft number will dwarf that I am sure.

  • Roy Williams not sweating academic fraud allegations at UNC

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams said Wednesday that he's unconcerned about the ongoing NCAA investigation of the school complicating a promising season for the Tar Heels.

    "No, because it's been so bad already," Williams said in an interview with Yahoo Sports and ESPN. "It can't be any worse than it is. Every step we take is a move toward completion. That's the best way to look at it."

    North Carolina could begin the 2015-16 season ranked No. 1. But the season will play out in concurrence with the latter stages of an NCAA investigation that may finally bring closure to an academic scandal in the African and Afro-American Studies program at the school that spanned 18 years.

    Williams is not named in any of the violations.

    "I'm still ticked off that we're in a problem to begin with," Williams said. "I'm embarrassed by it. I've said that publicly and I'm frustrated by it.

    Williams said he does not see the contract extension as a personal validation.


  • Q&A with Coach K: What Duke's title team did right and how he'd change the game

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    DURHAM, N.C. – Mike Krzyzewski strode into a conference room at the Duke basketball offices Tuesday afternoon exuding energy. At age 68 and coming off his fifth national championship, the winningest coach in college basketball history seems as enthused as ever – about his program, his most recent title team, his players who will be drafted Thursday night and the general state of the game.

    Below are excerpts from a wide-ranging, 45-minute question-and-answer session with Yahoo Sports and ESPN:

    Q: Now that you’ve had a few months to process the fun of it all ... you guys are moving on.

    Q: There’s much greater turnover for your program than there has been in the past (after losing three freshmen stars and replacing them with a new group of highly ranked recruits). Are you comfortable with it?

    Q: Do you think a 110-team division (instead of the current 351) would be good?

    A: I don’t know. There should be somebody studying impact. What if the Big East and the five power, and the American, the Missouri Valley – how many does that make? Also, some people come to the reality that if you’re one of the ones below (that group), do you do something more?

    Q: Are you nominating yourself?

  • U.S. Open slips away painfully from Dustin Johnson

    Pat Forde at Yahoo Sports 1 mth ago

    UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. — Walking away from the three-putt that may spawn a thousand nightmares, Dustin Johnson took solace in an appropriate place on Father's Day.

    He cradled Tatum Gretzky Johnson, the golfer's five-month-old son, in his arms. His fiancée, Paulina Gretzky, walked alongside, patting Dustin gently on the back. When Johnson got to the scorer's trailer to sign for the final-round 70 that cost him the U.S. Open by an agonizing stroke, he smooched Tatum and handed him back to Paulina.

    She sat down in a nearby golf cart, absently kissing the baby's head. Soon, her parents – former hockey great Wayne Gretzky and wife Janet – arrived and took Tatum. Paulina kept reaching under her sunglasses to wipe away tears until Dustin came back out.

    "C'mon, hon," he said, taking her by the hand and boarding the van to the player's locker room.

    Johnson skipped the trophy presentation on the 18th green, which probably hints at how much this hurt. His explanation, outside the locker room: "I did get to hold up my trophy at the end of the day, which is my son."

    "I'm proud of the way I handled myself," he said.