College Sports

Wisconsin Badgers Have Easiest Road to College Football Playoff

Wisconsin Badgers Football College Football Playoff

(Photo Credit: Athlon Sports)

Although the #5-ranked Wisconsin Badgers are undefeated and have an excellent football team, a dark cloud hangs over the team: it will not face a ranked opponent until the Big Ten Championship Game, which will take place on December 2, 2017 at Lucas Oil Stadium (home of the Indianapolis Colts) in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Badgers will most likely play either #2-ranked Penn State or #6-ranked Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game. An undefeated record in regular season competition and defeating Penn State or Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game should be enough to put the Badgers in the College Football Playoff.

National Championship Dark Horse: Wisconsin Badgers

Focusing on each team it encounters each week, and not worrying about polls and external analyses and prognostications, Wisconsin positions itself for the College Playoff and the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. While most devote their dominant attention to teams like Alabama, Penn State, Georgia, TCU, Ohio State, and Clemson, they fail to see just how talented the Badgers are. Regardless of the teams the Badgers have beat, a sophisticated observer can recognize that this team matches up well with any team in the country. Any team that Wisconsin plays better be equipped to withstand the physicality it brings.

On offense, Wisconsin has arguably the best offensive line in the nation—and it’s a huge, athletic, and punishing offensive line! Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor, already receiving Heisman Trophy consideration, has 149 carries and 1,112 rushing yards. Sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook has completed 98 of 149 passes attempted (a completion rate of 65.8%) with 13 touchdowns. The Badgers, therefore, feature a balanced and effective offense.

The team has the #6-ranked defense in total yards.

Beware of the Wisconsin Badgers

This is one of the smartest and most disciplined teams in the nation. In his third year at Wisconsin, Head Coach Paul Chryst has a 28-6 record (an undefeated bowl record at Wisconsin). His team is simply wonderful in all three dimensions of the game: offense, defense, and special teams.

In short, with great coaching, an impressive offense, and a top-ranked defense, the Wisconsin Badgers are ready to surprise many people when they win the Big Ten Championship, advance to the College Playoff, and win the College Football Playoff National Championship.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Texas A&M’s Historic Collapse Against UCLA

Josh Rosen

(Photo Credit: LA Times)

On Sunday night, September 3, 2017, UCLA made history, mounting the second largest comeback in NCAA Division I-A football history. The largest comeback in NCAA Division I-A football history occurred in 2006 when the Michigan State University Spartans overcame a 35-point deficit to defeat the Northwestern Wildcats 41-38. After trailing 44-10 in the 3rd quarter to the Texas A&M Aggies, the UCLA Bruins ended the game in dramatic fashion—Josh Rosen, UCLA quarterback, faking a spike and throwing the game-tying touchdown, followed by the go-ahead extra point conversion. From now on, Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M’s head coach, will vividly understand the meaning of playing a full 60-minute game. This loss is unacceptable, putting Sumlin at an even greater risk of being terminated.

Kevin Sumlin Shouldn’t Be Fired

Although Sumlin does not deserve to be fired, considering he’s one of the top coaches in the nation, having a victory over Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide on his resume during Johnny Manziel’s time at A&M, surrendering a 34-point lead in the 3rd quarter warrants frank and robust criticism. Texas A&M Athletic Director Scott Woodward would make an unwise decision to fire Sumlin. Yes, this loss is embarrassing and disappointing, and expectations are high in College Station for the football team, but Sumlin deserves a little more time to meet those expectations.

Should John Chavis Be Fired?

In his long tenure at LSU, John Chavis, former LSU defensive coordinator and current Aggies defensive coordinator, demonstrated that he was a great defensive coordinator. Keyword, though, was. Before leaving LSU, Chavis seemed to be decline—evidenced by his defenses not performing as they should against several teams. Sumlin, therefore, might want to consider replacing Chavis in an effort to ameliorate his defense, a defense that yielded 35 unanswered points in the second half to the Bruins. Yes, the offense could’ve done more in the second half. The offense was responsible for 44 points on the board, which should’ve been enough points to win this game, however. Simply put, A&M’s defense was pitiful in the second half. While it’s not time to panic in College Station, it’s time to make the right changes. The right changes may include finding a new defensive coordinator.

Don’t Count Out Texas A&M

Again, Texas A&M does not need to panic. Make the proper adjustments before entering into SEC play, and the team has enough talent to have a successful season. It would be a grave mistake to think the Aggies are finished. This team will still contend passionately for the SEC West title.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

All In For Him by Gwen Thielges: Book Review

 

Gwen Thielges

(Photo Credit: Gwen Thielges)

In All In For Him: Twenty-One Devotions For College Athletes, Gwen Thielges offers college student-athletes a 21-day devotional that empowers them to combine strong athletic preparation and performance with robust spiritual practice and commitment. For Thielges, any athlete, including a college student-athlete, cannot become a complete athlete without building and buttressing his or her spiritual life and foundation. Intending this book to inspire college athletes to develop a closer relationship with Christ and use their platform to display His glory, the author wants these athletes to maximize the potential of their platform to spread Christ’s message and win souls for Him. This book aims to help college student-athletes practice daily gratitude for the opportunity Jesus has given them to perform athletically and be a part of an athletic team.

Athletes, at any level, will find the “Day 1” devotion quite useful: begin the season with a prayer for God’s favor.  The “Day 3” devotion calls for them to abandon negative thinking and discourse and refuse to surround themselves with negativity in any form. On “Day 7,” Thielges makes an important point for college student-athletes to pray for their coaches. As any athlete knows, and the author highlights, a coach is a critical dimension of any team’s success, for if the team is to experience success, it will need a coach who employs principle and discipline.

In a postmodern epoch where many college student-athletes demonstrate such egregious selfishness, “Day 8” provides a sobering reminder of their need to commit themselves to humility and place their confidence in Christ. If athletes, as “Day 10” explains, walk in humility and in the confidence of God, they will serve as role models for their community, nation, and world. Living a humble life, one where confidence in God is at the center of the athlete’s life, he or she will have a proper understanding of how to conduct himself or herself when using social media, as revealed in “Day 12” and “Day 13.”  

Thielges encourages college student-athletes to win with grace. When one considers how nasty, how vicious college sports have increasingly become, her words are timely, calling these athletes, specifically Christian athletes, to serve as an example of what grace looks like in athletic competition. For the author, when athletes win with grace, it’s not about belittling their opponents but more about thanking God for the opportunity to perform successfully and more about showing gratitude for the spirited competition their opponents gave them.

As a coach and scholar who focuses on student-athletes, I am happy to see this book published. For this book to reach its maximum value, it must reach the hands of as many college student-athletes as possible. The publisher and/or author needs to send a copy of this book to college athletic departments across the nation. While this will cost some money to do, I’m confident that this will be a profitable investment, leading to a significant increase in sales, and more importantly, strengthening the lives of college student-athletes.  

To have an interest in purchasing and reading this book, one, most likely, will need to an authentic investment in student-athletes, especially college student-athletes, for its written to and for them. Having said that, though, I would recommend that coaches, athletic administrators, higher education administrators, advisors, mentors, and tutors of college student-athletes, parents of current and future college student-athletes, and serious college sports fans read this book. By reading this book, one gains a stronger understanding of what college student-athletes need, the challenges they face, and how to maximize their impact on and off the field.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison  

Open Letter to Kyle Porter: Choose the Arkansas Razorbacks

Kyle Porter

(Photo Credit: Scout)

Dear Kyle Porter:

As you’ve narrowed down your schools to the University of Arkansas, University of Texas and Texas Christian University, I would like to explain why playing for the Razorbacks offers you the best advantages. If you’re really interested in a career in the NFL, then you certainly don’t want to play for the Longhorns. To be frank, the Longhorns are awful. The team has a horrible passing game, a pitiful defense, and unacceptable special teams. Even if the coaching staff has informed you that you’re going to be the featured running back and the answer to the team’s woes, how realistic is this? How can you be the answer when defenses will simply load the box against you, considering there’s no passing game in Texas? With Texas out of the way, let’s get down to real business: the choice between the Hogs or the Horned Frogs.

Yes, since Gary Patterson has taken over as head coach at TCU, the school has been successful. Gary Patterson is an excellent coach. Each year, TCU presents an explosive offensive. What kind of “explosiveness” is the question, though? TCU’s explosiveness is a product of their passing game. Yes, the team does run a little but the running game isn’t central to what the Horned Frogs do on offense. Just for the sake of argument, let’s say TCU becomes much more of a running team this year, and they agree to feature you as the star running back, NFL coaches and administrators will evaluate whatever you would accomplish as a running back at TCU as primarily resulting from playing in the Big 12 where defenses are horrible. You can, therefore, amass great statistics in the Big 12 but they will not be highly respected.

Now, let’s talk even more serious business since we’ve gotten Texas and TCU out of the way.

The University of Arkansas is Running Back U! Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, Peyton Hillis, Jonathan Williams, and Alex Collins: names of just some of the great running backs that have been a part of the Hogs. Those running backs have always benefitted from great offensive lines. Last season, as you know, the Razorbacks had the largest offensive in football, NFL included, and it was arguably the best offensive line in the nation. Mr. Porter, as you know, Bret Bielema is known for producing superior running backs, as they run behind massive, athletic and talented offensive lines. With Kurt Anderson, former offensive line coach for the Buffalo Bills, as the new offensive line coach for the Hogs, the team is poised to achieve even greater things in the running game. Under Anderson, the Buffalo Bills had the top offensive line in the NFL. The Hogs’ offensive coordinator, Dan Enos, offers a balanced attack on offense, which led to the Razorbacks having the best offense in the SEC last season. The Hogs are just as explosive on offense as the Horned Frogs but they do it with a truly balanced attack, which means you have less risk of injury.

Kyle, there’s a reason four-star running back Devwah Whaley, one of the top running backs in the nation in this year’s recruiting class decommitted from Georgia to come play for the Hogs: Arkansas constantly has one of the leading running games in the country and one of the top running games in the SEC.

NFL coaches and administrators understand that the SEC is a semi-professional league. When drafting players, they look first to the SEC and not the Big 12. The reality is the top players at every position come to play for an SEC school, with few exceptions here and there. At Arkansas, you have an opportunity to join a backfield where you will be a star running back and will be loved and treated as a star by the school, athletic department and the passionate Razorback fans.

As an experienced defensive coordinator and assistant offensive coordinator, I urge you to commit as soon as possible to the Hogs. Fayetteville, Arkansas is a wonderful place to live, study and play. I’ve worked in the athletic department at the University of Arkansas and can ensure you that you will receive strong academic support in the athletic department, and no other school is going to supply you with the level and quality of academic support you will receive in the Hogs’ athletic department. The University of Arkansas has athletic facilities that are second to none.

Why delay your decision any longer? Who doesn’t want to play in the SEC? Playing in the SEC best positions you for the NFL Draft. The Razorback football program would love to have you and the wild and crazy Hog fans are eager to welcome you to the Razorback family, a family that lasts long after you leave the institution.

Come play where the big men play: the SEC West. Arkansas awaits your commitment to the team and arrival on campus!

Sincerely,

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Arkansas

Beware of the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2015

Jonathan Williams Arkansas Razorbacks

(Photo Credit: Whole Hogs Sports)

Don’t be surprised if the Arkansas Razorbacks win the SEC Championship in 2015.  As Bret Bielema enters his third season as the Head Hog, he has restored toughness, discipline and power to the team.  We had an opportunity to witness the type of team to expect this season in the final four games of last season and against Alabama.  The Hogs won three of their last four games last season, including back-to-back shutouts of ranked SEC opponents LSU and Ole Miss, and the team concluded the season by crushing Texas in the Texas Bowl—not allowing the Longhorns to earn even 60 total yards.  Let’s not forget Arkansas nearly defeated mighty Alabama, losing by only one point.  In every loss last season, the Razorbacks were close to winning and probably should have won each one of those close games.  In the Auburn game, the Hogs were tied with the Tigers at halftime.  However, former Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney abandoned the running game—the strength of the Arkansas offense—and the Tigers were able to capitalize on his misguided offensive strategy (or lack thereof).

The Year of the Hogs?

The Hogs are ready to win the SEC Championship this year.  Although the Hogs surrendered a few valuable defensive players to the NFL, the team returns the core of its offense, defense and special teams.  Last season, Arkansas had one of the best defenses and offenses in the nation.  Based on Arkansas having fundamentally the same squad it had last year, including some talented new players, we can expect the team to continue to improve and surprise many teams in the SEC and stun many college football fans across the nation.  The recently released pre-season coaches’ poll has Arkansas ranked as the #20 team in the nation.  However, Las Vegas gamblers—people willing to put their money where their mouths are—have Arkansas ranked as the #6 team in the nation.

When Arkansas Goes on Offense

Again, Arkansas has the largest offensive line in football: both college and NFL.  The offensive line is not only massive but also highly talented and athletic.  Arkansas has two of the best running backs, Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams, in the nation—arguably the best running back duo in the country.  This season the Hogs will feature a third solid running back, Kody Walker, giving the Razorbacks a three-headed monster rushing attack.  Bielema is committed to a power running game—just as he was at Wisconsin—and it’s paying tremendous dividends for him at Arkansas and will continue to pay even greater dividends for him this season and beyond.  With new offensive coordinator Dan Enos at the helm, Brandon Allen, Arkansas’ senior quarterback, seems to have made significant improvements during the off-season, and Enos has been a proven-leader in ameliorating passing games and producing quality passing games.  The success the Hogs will have on offensive will aid them immensely on defense as they’re bound to dominate the time of possession in most games this season.

A Tough but Doable Schedule

Again, the Razorbacks will have one of the toughest schedules to combat, but a few huge wins can propel them to the SEC Championship game and give them a chance to play in this season’s National Championship.  It will be difficult to defeat Alabama on the road, but remember the Hogs only loss by one point to the Crimson Tide last year.  Also, it will be difficult to go on the road and defeat Ole Miss and LSU, but remember the Hogs shutout both teams in back-to-back weeks last season.

Teams situated in the SEC West have to win big games almost every week and Arkansas understands this by now.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Arkansas

Open Letter to K.J. Hill: Recommit to Arkansas and Become a National Star

K.J. Hill Arkansas Football Recruit

(Photo Credit: Whole Hog Sports)

Hello, Mr. Hill:

The purpose of this open letter is to urge you (and cause others to urge you) to recommit to playing football for the University of Arkansas. You’re being heavily recruited by the University of Alabama and Ohio State University, but those teams are loaded at the wide receiver position. You, therefore, seriously run the risk of simply sitting on the bench your entire college tenure, squandering an opportunity to live up to your full potential on the football field and make it to the NFL. At the University of Arkansas, you will have the opportunity to emerge as a star, possibly your first season. Although all who follow college football know that Arkansas has a superior power running game—with the biggest offensive line in football (college and NFL)—the team is only an improved passing game away from winning national championships. Arkansas returns a tough defense, a defense that ranked #10 in total defense, holding Alabama to only 14 points and holding LSU and Ole Miss scoreless last season. You, Mr. Hill, will be the featured wide receiver at Arkansas. At Alabama and Ohio State, you will sit on the bench—no matter what the coaches at both schools are telling you right now.

If you’re unaware, one of the significant jobs in college football recruiting, especially among elite football programs, is to not only recruit the best and most appropriate players for one’s team but also to recruit players away from teams to prevent them from progressing. Unfortunately, this brutal recruiting game results in those players never being intended to be used. Nick Saban recognizes the great difficulties he faced against Arkansas last season, which resulted in many Alabama fans calling the team “mediocre” and questioning whether Saban is in decline. Saban understands that Arkansas’ physical play on both sides of the ball is a substantial threat to his team in the SEC West. You’re nothing more than a pawn in his recruiting game.

Urban Meyer and Bret Bielema simply don’t like one another. Meyer isn’t genuinely interested in you—he simply wants to recruit you to anger Bielema. Again, you’re nothing more than a pawn in Meyer’s recruiting war, and he knows his team could face Arkansas in the playoffs, which it’s really possible for both teams to make it there.

If you recommit to Arkansas, you will be just as important to the team as its power running game is to its success. Arkansas has a great tight end, Hunter Henry, who occupies the attention of every defense the team faces. While those defenses are focusing on Hunter Henry, they will open up even more touchdown opportunities and big plays for you. With the recruitment of big-time recruit, Will Gragg, a tight end, defenses will have to concentrate on him as well, allowing increased opportunities for you to gain separation from defenses that will attempt to defend you man-to-man.

Mr. Hill, I have worked for the University of Arkansas’ athletic department and I can honestly attest to the fact that the athletic department has some of the finest facilities in the nation, and you will receive some of the finest academic support inside of the athletic department in the nation. Don’t forget how important it is to have great academic support to maintain your eligibility to play. Too often recruits don’t ask those athletic departments what they’re going to offer them to ensure their academic success. In the academic support center in the athletic department at Arkansas, you will receive tutoring, training, support, and help with your academic work that will ensure your success. If you commit to Arkansas, I make a personal commitment to help you with every assignment you need assistance with completing.

In closing, Mr. Hill, I strongly urge you not to become distracted by offers by Alabama and Ohio State. Those offers are to have you to sit on the bench. Contact Bret Bielema today and make an unwavering recommitment to Arkansas.

I look forward to hearing of your recommitment to Arkansas in the coming days.

Best wishes,

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Arkansas

Arkansas’ Physicality Will Be the Difference against Missouri

Darius Philon

Darius Philon (Photo Credit: SW Times)

In the inaugural 2014 Battle Line Rivalry, Arkansas’ physicality will prove to be too much for Missouri.  Missouri demonstrated that it cannot handle a highly physical team when Georgia demolished the Tigers 34-0 in Columbia, Missouri. Arkansas employs an even more physical style—on both sides of the ball—than Georgia does. On offense, Missouri will be punished by the biggest offensive line in football, including the NFL. Arkansas’ stable of running backs, led by Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, are powerful running backs and difficult to bring down.  The Arkansas Razorbacks have the most underrated defense in the nation. This defense has played well all year. The Razorbacks’ defense gave up only 17 points to Mississippi State, 14 points to Alabama, and shutout LSU and Ole Miss. Arkansas is the hottest team in the country and is far better than its record suggests. The team has played the toughest schedule in the nation, according to the NCAA. If a play or two would have went differently for the team in each game it lost, the Hogs would be undefeated. You shouldn’t, therefore, doubt that the Hogs have a great chance to go on the road and defeat the Missouri Tigers.

Every coach who has played against Arkansas this season has stated that the team is either “great” or “very good”—Nick Saban said Arkansas is a “great team” and he congratulated Bielema on building a great team the right way. Today, the Razorbacks will need to get consistent pressure with its front four to stop Missouri’s potent passing game. The Hogs’ defense has played well against teams this season that have employed the type of offensive strategy the Tigers use. Missouri will not be able to handle Arkansas’ beast on defense, Trey Flowers. Flowers is one of the top three defensive ends in the nation. Also, look for Darius Philon to have a great game for Arkansas on defense.

Offensively, the Hogs should be able to do enough to defeat the Tigers.

Although the Tigers are playing to be SEC Eastern Division champions, the Hogs are hungry and ready to feed on the Tigers. The Razorbacks want to prove what they did against LSU and Ole Miss is going to continue on into next season, and a win will ameliorate the type of bowl game the team will get. Georgia fans, coaches, and players will need to send the Hogs a letter of gratitude after this one is over. The Hogs win in Columbia, Missouri 31-23.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Arkansas