Dan Wetzel

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Dan Wetzel is an award-winning sportswriter, author and screenwriter. He has covered all levels of basketball as well as college football, the NFL, MLB and NHL. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October.

  • Dabo Swinney, Clemson need to use common sense following religion-related complaint

    Dabo Swinney is a man of faith. Dabo Swinney proudly, and often, proclaims that faith. Dabo Swinney is the head football coach for Clemson University, a public school in South Carolina.

    These are not unrelated items, certainly not to Swinney, who credits Christianity for driving his inspirational life story – overcoming a troubled family to rise to the upper tiers of college coaching where he's turned the Tigers into a big winner.

    Sammy Watkins and Dabo Swinney throw oranges into the crowd after Clemson defeated Ohio State. (AP)You spend anytime around the 44-year-old and you are going to hear about Jesus, Scripture, and the power of it all. It isn't necessarily, or at least not always, done to proselytize. It's part of how he talks, how he lives. Faith, Family, Football – that's about it with him.

    There is no delineation.

    For the people at the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-profit out of Madison, Wis., there needs to be or he shouldn't have his job.

    In what is, if nothing else, an absolutely fascinating subject, the FFRF sent a letter of complaint to Clemson this week

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  • Sports gave Boston a way to show its strength after marathon bombings, but tragedy lingers

    The full motives of the two brothers who set off a couple of pressure cookers near the finish line of last year's Boston Marathon are still unknown.

    Outside of law enforcement using the motive as a way to somehow prevent future attacks, it doesn't matter.

    They wanted to kill and injure people. They did. Eventually, one of the brothers was killed. The other will stand trial. Whatever it was they were trying to point out – if anything – might as well be ignored, the tactics muting the message. They were just two more preying on the innocent. No need to mention their names.

    There have been reports the younger and surviving brother has told investigators the original plan was to set off the bombs on July 4. Instead, they got things together sooner and decided to take the opportunity for the big gathering of Patriots Day in Boston, when the Marathon and Red Sox make the city full of people.

    This may have been merely a numbers game, an opportunity, not symbolism.

    The attack went off at a

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  • Forty minutes of hell doom Jordan Spieth's amazing Masters run

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – Out behind the Augusta National press center there is a make-shift television set, with a podium, a Masters backdrop and a row of cameras.

    In the gathering dusk of Sunday night, the TV folks had it all lit up, bright and inviting. There in the middle was Bubba Watson, with his cap off, his hair combed and a brand new green jacket shining under the high-wattage attention after winning the Masters for the second time in three years.

    Jordan Spieth, escorted by a tournament official in search of a golf cart, came walking by this scene, like some kind of this-was-almost-your-life visual.

    As he climbed aboard a green EZ-GO, he looked over at the reporters surrounding Watson and his championship jacket, amid the glow of that light, all breathlessly asking him about his greatness. That could've been his glow, his jacket, his greatness.

    Jordan Spieth clutches his club after his approach shot on the eighth hole. (AP)Instead Spieth took a seat, fiddled with an empty water bottle in his hand and was whisked away to wherever guys that nearly won the Masters go.

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  • Jordan Spieth trying to do Tiger Woods one better at the Masters

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – At 6:22 p.m. Saturday, with the shadows stretching across these manicured Georgia hills, a red five was slipped into Bubba Watson's column on the big, hand-run scoreboard that faces the 18th green at Augusta National, signifying a recently recorded bogey.

    Jordan Spieth still had to putt out on 18, but at that moment, sitting five under himself, he was officially a co-leader of the Masters. He was, of course, a 20-year-old in his first appearance in the most pressurized tournament in the game, the one that's supposed to send kids far older and more experienced than him home in a humbled heap.

    Instead Spieth was marching unflappably around the 18th green with his typical pace (fast) and typical purpose (focused) like this was still Brook Hollow back in Dallas with his boyhood friends or the University of Texas Club in Austin with college buddies.

    Up in the crowded gallery, his brother Steven was repeating Happy Gilmore lines – "nice and easy … that was not nice and easy" –

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  • For a minute Gary Woodland was the story of the Masters, 'til it all went south

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – No cellphones are allowed on the grounds of Augusta National. Same with small radios. There are no public address announcements, no video boards and no replays.

    News during play at the Masters travels just a few ways. There's word-of-mouth. There are cheers from another part of the course roaring through the pines – the decibel range is birdie, eagle, Tiger. Or there is having a player climb into the top 10 for the tournament and thus have their name and score appear on one of the half dozen or so hand-operated scoreboards that dot the course.

    To come to the Masters is to step into the 1920s, which is much of the appeal. And when people ask what makes this event unique, well, here is a snapshot of it far from the television cameras or green jacket contention.

    There are no video screens at Augusta, just a handful of hand-operated leaderboards. (Getty Images)It's a place that produces moments like Gary Woodland's first 10 holes here Saturday, where he shot a blistering seven under, to occur in old-school, romantic fashion. It allows thrilling, out-of-nowhere runs of

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  • Bubba Watson rekindles some magic lost, storms to lead at the Masters

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – In 2012, Bubba Watson became the hottest thing in golf, winning the Masters with a miracle, savant-like hook from the pine straw of the 10th hole of Augusta National to win a sudden-death playoff.

    The shot made no sense. Who'd even try it? Well, Bubba would, in part because he's never had a lesson or a coach, teaching himself the game in Bagdad, Fla.

    It was too good a story. He wasn't a golfing hero as much as a folk. He rewarded himself by buying the "General Lee." He was a good ole boy, only one fully dedicated to his faith. He was, if nothing else, authentic in a sport where packaged is the norm, a character amidst a crowd of country club dull.

    Bubba Watson was a star. Big things were expected. This was the start of something.

    Then he immediately began to, well, kind of stink. He didn't win again in 2012. He didn't win at all in 2013. He finished 50th on his return to Augusta and didn't finish in the top 10 in his seven, post-green jacket majors.

    Finally last fall he

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  • Golf fans playing referee needs to stop

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – Golf has a lot of rules. A lot. At the heart of each one is a good intention, so this isn't a debate about the rules, per se.

    Certainly not Rule 13-4, which Luke Donald violated during Thursday's opening round of the Masters when he smacked his club against the sand after hitting a shot in a greenside bunker on the ninth hole.

    Rule 13-4 essentially states you can't touch your club to the ground in a hazard, in this case the hazard being a sand trap. Donald hit his shot, then smacked his club against the ground after the ball ended up back in the bunker.

    The smack of the club cost Donald a two-stroke penalty. He finished the day seven-over.

    The problem isn't that Donald was assessed the penalty, but who called him on it: a fan watching saw it happen and alerted tournament officials, none of whom had noticed.

    A fan, in this case, one on the grounds of Augusta National who was just standing nearby.

    Tiger Woods incurred a two-stroke penalty last year after a fan called in a violation. (AP)It also could've been someone at home watching on television who sees

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  • 3-month-old Isaiah Tesori's inspiring journey to Augusta

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – Michelle Tesori was in the delivery room when a nurse snatched her son Isaiah, less than a minute old and already mid-seizure, off her chest. In a blink, a team of stern-faced doctors surrounded the tiny child and then immediately whisked him out of the room.

    Soon Michelle and her husband Paul listened in stunned silence as a doctor explained the dire stakes and offered a list of potential reasons that Isaiah's brief life was in significant jeopardy.

    "Blood on the brain … brain virus …" Michelle recalled through tears Thursday, reciting a laundry list of parental nightmare terms, each more chilling than the last.

    Isaiah was headed to a new hospital, the doctor said, across Jacksonville, Fla., to Wolfson Children's Hospital, where the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit might be able to save him. First, they quickly wheeled Isaiah, laying in an incubator, back to his parents. Through a finger-sized hole in the side, Michelle was able to reach in and touch him.

    Then he was off,

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  • Patrick Reed will tell you his Masters debut sort of stunk, and isn't that awesome

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – Patrick Reed's par putt stayed above the hole on the 18th green of Augusta National, giving him a bogey-bogey-bogey finish and putting him 1-over after the opening round of the Masters.

    He flipped his putter in the air in frustration before catching it, looking for a second like he was going to try to snap it in half. He didn't.

    Three years ago Patrick Reed was a student at nearby Augusta State. A year ago he watched the opening round of the Masters on television from home.

    Patrick Reed watches his ball through the sand after blasting out of a bunker. (AP)Since then he's won three PGA events, taken to wearing red on Sunday like his idol Tiger Woods and, famously, declared himself a top-5 player in the world. He then scoffed at the backlash, pointing out that confidence is a necessity for true greatness. And besides, you don't get strokes taken off for humility or popularity.

    So after his round crashed and burned at the end here – in this, his first ever major appearance – Reed stood in the Augusta National locker room and, in line with his personality,

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  • Phil Mickelson decides he can win Masters without 'special' clubs

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    AUGUSTA, Ga. – Perhaps the most telling sign of how comfortable Phil Mickelson feels playing at Augusta National doesn't come simply from his familiar beaming smile, fist bumps with fans or clear expression of joy to be back – each of which was on display as he marched through the galleries to Wednesday's loose par-3 contest here.

    The secret might be in his bag or, more precisely, what isn't.

    Tournament golf allows for players to carry a maximum of 14 clubs with them to use. Some are in there routinely: drivers, putters and standard-issue stuff. Others – precisely shaved wedges or maybe a low iron – can be switched in based on the layout of a course or weather conditions. It's a small, but occasionally significant sliver of the game.

    Phil Mickelson, right, talks to Luke Donald's daughters Sophie and Elle during Wednesday's competition. (AP)For Mickelson, Augusta National lays out so perfectly for his game that his pre-Masters club decision is an unusual one. It isn't about paring down his choices to 14 clubs, but even bothering to get up to the allowable maximum.

    It's a bizarre quirk that

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