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.

  • Searching for Tiger Woods 2.0

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – Adam Scott called it "a big loss." Justin Rose said it was "a shame." Phil Mickelson described it as "awkward." Jason Day went with, "a little sad."

    For the first time since he became the undisputed megastar of golf nearly two decades ago, Tiger Woods isn't here at the Masters, and everyone not only knows it, they are lamenting it.

    The path to a green jacket may be one player easier with Woods recovering from back surgery, but there isn't a golfer on the PGA Tour who doesn't understand what he's meant for the sport (and their paychecks).

    Perhaps most importantly, they know that going forward, golf needs to have at least one crossover personality, and right now most of the sport's biggest stars are over 40 or injured.

    "I think any sport benefits from a dominant figure like that … to maybe be the legend," McIlroy said here Tuesday. "Like LeBron James, for example, in basketball or Cristiano Ronaldo in football or [Lionel] Messi. It's been Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal in

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  • Phil Mickelson loses $1 bet to Masters fan

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – Phil Mickelson was working through a semi-serious practice round at Augusta National Tuesday in preparation for the Masters when he found his tee shot on the par-3 sixth hole wind up long and behind the green.

    That's where he ran into a middle-aged male patron who wasn't afraid to dish out some good-natured smack talk to the three-time Masters champion.

    "He was mouthing off about 'hard shot, get this up-and-down, no chance, blah, blah, blah,' " Mickelson said after.

    Mickelson, who said his group's members were betting throughout the practice round, decided to throw some side action out there. He bet the patron a whopping $1 that he'd get his chip onto the green and then putt in for par.

    Mind you, Mickelson has earned more than $80 million in his career, and tens of millions more in endorsements. He reportedly earned nearly $40 million total last year alone.

    Still, this was as much for pride and pocket.

    "It wasn't a hard shot," Mickelson said. "I should have gotten it up

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  • If the Lakers call, John Calipari should, and likely would, listen

    ARLINGTON, Texas – About an hour and a half before Monday's national title game, former Kentucky great, ex-NBA front-office executive and occasional Wildcats TV color commentator Rex Chapman tweeted that John Calipari would be the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers next season.

    "Done deal," Chapman wrote and he later stood by his tweet, claiming that's what he's hearing.

    Done deal? Well, that's almost assuredly an overstatement.

    Possible? Oh you better believe it's possible, and not just because Chapman was seen with coaching agent and Calipari confidant William Wesley this weekend. (Wesley is actually a consultant, not an agent, for CAA and says he had no interactions with Chapman over the Final Four weekend until after Chapman's tweet.)

    This can't be dismissed as the Cal/NBA rumor du jour. These are the

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  • Alonzo Mourning's bond with John Thompson led him to Hall of Fame

    DALLAS – On Nov. 10, 1989, John Thompson lined up his Georgetown Hoyas basketball team at practice and asked them a question: Could anyone tell him what major event had occurred the night before?

    These kinds of breaks from practice, where non-basketball lessons were taught, weren't unusual. "I did a lot of crazy things," Thompson said. Yet no one was prepared. Thompson's question was met by silence.

    The answer was the Berlin Wall had begun to fall. It was a symbolic end to the Cold War, yet the players seemed oblivious to the news. Thompson found this embarrassingly unacceptable even for self-obsessed college kids.

    Here they were, after all, at Georgetown University, surrounded by so much knowledge, creativity and intelligence. They needed, the coach lectured sternly, to start acting like the name on the front of the jersey meant something to them.

    Standing there that day was Alonzo Mourning, then 19 years old, who heard the words and never forgot them. His first move was pragmatic

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  • How Nolan Richardson blazed a trail to the Hall of Fame, one kicked-in door at a time

    DALLAS – Back in the 1940s, out in the West Texas town of El Paso, lived a black woman named Rose Richardson, although everyone called her "Ole Mama."

    Ole Mama had a husband, Miles, who couldn't work because of an accident that covered him in burns. She had a job at a small chicken restaurant. She had a three-room house – kitchen, living room, bedroom – in South El Paso, which is a nice way to describe an area that was essentially a barrio, so close to the Rio Grande you could chuck a rock into Mexico.

    And she had nine children and grandchildren living with her. Nine.

    Now, this was something. Poor? Oh man, they were poor. Hopeless? Well, close. This was the segregated south, Jim Crow, and the only relief from heavy racism was to cross into Mexico where no one would deny them access to lunch or a movie.

    Ole Mama had a grandson named Nolan, a gifted athlete, particularly in baseball and basketball. He was also someone everyone knew early on was headstrong and whip smart.

    The kid was

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  • NCAA still refusing to see big picture; all college sports are not equal

    ARLINGTON, Texas – Based on a steady, if slow, push of action, and backed again by words during Sunday's annual state of the NCAA address at the Final Four, it's clear that the leaders of college athletics are determined to make concessions toward their athletes.

    Additional monetary stipends, a voice for the players, scholarship adjustments, stricter practice time limits are all on the table and some are inevitably going to be passed, at least at the biggest schools.

    These are all small, common sense and almost impossible to oppose things that should've been done long ago, of course. The multipronged threat of union certifications, pending lawsuits, threatened lawsuits, public opinion and so on has sped up the timetable.

    College sports appear to remain naïve, however, to the depth of the opposition. Once the battle is engaged, a few minor steps will appease no one on the players' side.

    Moreover, they aren't ready to acknowledge how the endgame is likely not about colleges deciding

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  • Even John Calipari has no idea what's next during Wildcats' wild run to NCAA title game

    ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Harrison – or "Aaron the Assassin," as John Calipari calls him – had drained the big shot to win the game for Kentucky, 74-73 over Wisconsin. It was the same way he hit the big shot for Kentucky to win in the last game, as well as the game before that, too.

    The Wildcats were headed to Monday's national title game against Connecticut as the first team in NCAA tournament history to win four consecutive games by five points or less. Their "breather" was a seven-point win in their tourney opener.

    Aaron Harrison celebrates after making a three-point basket in the final seconds. (AP)The Big Blue side of AT&T Stadium was some kind of mix of emotional exhaustion, extended disbelief and the non-parallel joy of continuing to win what seemed lost.

    The Cardiac 'Cats are doing a number on the Commonwealth, a ride of a lifetime; this youthful, erratic, improbable, outrageous, infuriating, brilliant mix of a title game drive, all capped by a freshman guard with oversized, ah, onions.

    "He's got the biggest [onions] I've seen," forward Alex Poythress said with a

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  • Masters' ticket prices drop in wake of Tiger's absence

    It's been nearly six years since Tiger Woods won a major championship, yet there is never a question about his box-office power.

    Less than 24 hours after Woods announced he was skipping this year's Masters, tickets for this year's tournament are down significantly on the online secondary market.

    Some prices for one-day badges on StubHub.com dropped 10 percent within the first hour of Tiger's announcement and overnight were off by nearly 20 percent, and trending further downward.

    As of Woods' midday withdrawal announcement on Tuesday, badges for next Thursday's opening round were going for $1,165 on StubHub.com.

    By 11 a.m. (ET) Wednesday they were down to $940, a 19.3 percent drop in less than a day, and will likely continue to drop.

    "No single athlete has a greater impact on our ticket prices," said Glenn Lehrman, a spokesman for StubHub who travels to Augusta each April to oversee the operation from the company's badge pick-up/hospitality house

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  • Tiger Woods – out of the Masters – is facing his biggest rival yet

    It's been 17 years – yes, 17 years – since 21-year-old Tiger Woods torched Augusta National at an unheard of 18-under par, besting Tom Kite by a record 12 strokes to win the Masters. It was the first of four green jackets, and 14 major championships, for Tiger.

    From that moment the golf world has been desperately seeking a viable rival for Tiger, perhaps to beat him, perhaps to challenge him, perhaps just to make things interesting. So many were propped up with varying degrees of success and longevity, from Phil to Vijay to Ernie to Rory to even, um, Sergio.

    None quite took, at least not the way Palmer challenged Hogan or Nicklaus challenged Palmer or Watson challenged Nicklaus and so on.

    Now, however, nearly six years since Woods won the U.S. Open, then hobbled off Torrey Pines never to be quite the same again, the rival that is undoing him, and likely will continue to, gets clearer and clearer.

    Time, injury and now, perhaps most concerning, recurring defeats to the most dreaded

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  • Back surgery forces Tiger Woods out of Masters

    Lingering back issues will force Tiger Woods to miss the Masters for the first time in his career, the golfer announced Tuesday.

    Woods, 38, underwent a microdiscectomy for a pinched nerve Monday. He described it as "successful" but at least a few weeks of rest and rehabilitation are needed, making next week's start of the season’s first major championship impossible.

    "After attempting to get ready for the Masters, and failing to make the necessary progress, I decided, in consultation with my doctors, to have this procedure done," Woods said in a statement on his website.

    "It also looks like I'll be forced to miss several upcoming tournaments to focus on my rehabilitation and getting healthy … this is frustrating, but it's something my doctors advised me to do for my immediate and long-term health."

    Augusta National is one of Woods' preferred courses. He’s won four green jackets there, and even when his game has struggled in the past because of injury, inconsistent play or personal

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