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.

  • Aaron Hernandez oddly elects to hire Casey Anthony attorney for next murder trial

    Among the neutral observers of Aaron Hernandez's 2015 murder trial in Massachusetts – a group that included the jury – there were two generally agreed-upon facts.

    1. Hernandez was guilty of killing Odin Lloyd, a crime for which he is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

    2. Hernandez's defense team of James Sultan, Charles Rankin and Michael Fee were really good. As in good enough to fight every last point so aggressively that they repeatedly twisted up arguments across the eight-week trial until everyone remembered the undeniable facts (murder location, surveillance video, shell casings, etc.) that led to conclusion No. 1.Aaron Hernandez attends a pre-trial hearing at Suffolk Superior Court on Dec. 22, 2015, in Boston. (AP)Aaron Hernandez attends a pre-trial hearing at Suffolk Superior Court on Dec. 22, 2015, in Boston. (AP)

    Hernandez apparently saw point No. 2 differently. The former New England Patriots tight end has fired his original defense team as he prepares for a second murder trial later this year on an unrelated, 2012 double homicide in Boston.

    Enter Jose Baez, famous for gaining an acquittal for young Florida mother Casey Anthony in a

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  • The legacy of Kimbo Slice

    Kevin Ferguson, best known for his street-fighting name, Kimbo Slice, died Monday at age 42. No foul play is expected. A full autopsy will eventually explain the cause of death but it hardly matters. It’s a sad tale all around because Kimbo was, if nothing else, a good man, a doting father and a one-of-a-kind American sporting success story.

    There was something primal about it all at the beginning, long before he was scooped up and propped up and rang up checks in the burgeoning world of mixed martial arts … despite not being anything resembling a real mixed martial artist.

    In the beginning it was pure and primitive, and not just because it involved basic human violence, the bare-knuckle brawl.

    It was the name: Kimbo Slice – something out of a comic book. It was the look: block-of-granite build, shaved head and bushy beard. Who in their right mind would square off with this dude? It was the backdrops: backyards and boat lots in South Florida, a window into some kind of underground

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  • Among legends, Muhammad Ali was the legend

    Back in February 2000, Muhammad Ali showed up at a Michigan State basketball game. He was living at the time in the southwest corner of Michigan and had become enamored with Tom Izzo and his then rising program. ("His people called and said, 'Can we get a couple tickets for Muhammad Ali?' " Izzo said at the time. "I was like, 'Is this a prank call?' ")

    It really was the Champ and now he was out in the postgame hallway of the Breslin Center, waiting to congratulate the Spartans after a victory over a good Connecticut team.

    Ali, dubbed the Louisville Lip for practically inventing modern sports trash talk and perhaps even the concept of rap music, didn't speak much then. He didn't float like a butterfly anymore either. Parkinson's had ravaged him. He shuffled. He looked people in the eye. He feigned a boxing stance. That was it. That was all he could do.

    David Beckham and Muhammad Ali in 2012 (REUTERS)David Beckham and Muhammad Ali in 2012 (REUTERS)It didn't matter.

    Word that Ali was in the hall brought a crowd, including Michigan State players out of the celebratory locker room.

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  • The NCAA way: students pay; coaches (and everyone else) get paid

    On Wednesday, the University of Louisville agreed to pay its baseball coach $1 million per year. (Repeat: baseball.) With various bonuses, Dan McDonnell's annual compensation can actually go even higher than that. He is believed to be among, if not the, highest paid baseball coach in the country.

    There was some howling over the idea of a college baseball coach breaking into the million-dollar club. This was misplaced. This is America and this is capitalism and McDonnell is worth whatever he can get someone to pay him. Good for him. And Louisville can decide whatever it wants to pay its employees. Good for it.

    Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell, right (AP)Louisville head coach Dan McDonnell, right (AP)The more germane point is this: while eye-popping coaches' salaries are nothing new in football and men's basketball, as uneasy as it is seeing millions go to them and "just" full scholarships to the players, in college baseball that isn't even the case.

    Louisville, for instance, lists 38 players on its baseball roster, 30 of which have appeared regularly in games this season.

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  • Kenneth Starr's gaffe-filled resignation interview shows depth of Baylor's issues

     Kenneth Starr sat for an interview with ESPN on Wednesday where he announced his resignation as Baylor’s chancellor (he was removed as president last week). Presumably he was trying to save whatever was left of his reputation.

    Instead, via equal parts clumsy and clueless, he pulled the curtains back on just the kind of thinking that can fuel a massive sexual assault scandal to occur in a football program.

    This was crisis management malpractice, which, considering Starr’s learned background and preparation, is even more revealing. By evening, his PR firm was cancelling previously scheduled interviews, which was probably its first wise decision. The damage was done.

    The gaffes were numerous, from unbelievable claims of ignorance, to a lack of understanding of the crime of sexual assault, to making mind-numbing points such as noting that Baylor’s campus is alcohol-free. (Sure it is.) He went on and on.

    Most telling, however, was that he engaged in the exact type of coaching hagiography

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  • Why LeBron James is savoring his return to the NBA Finals

    CLEVELAND – LeBron James, as he often is, was in control of the music in the Cleveland Cavaliers' locker room. This was after Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals here last week, after Kevin Love returned to form, after a complete annihilation of Toronto made the NBA Finals feel like the inevitability it was. The Cavs open at Golden State on Thursday.

    The symphonic tastes of professional athletes rarely extend past a month ago, but LeBron isn't your normal young, rich and famous star. For one, he's old school. Second, he's got a hokey, suburban dad angle to him – he's a self-professed fan of HGTV, the Food Network and the "Pitch Perfect" movies. He's also cool enough to cop to it without concern.

    Winning a big game called for more than just the latest hits, and besides, what's current that's better than the O'Jays? So the 1972 classic "Back Stabbers" rang through the place, LeBron loudly singing along.

    "They smile in your face," James crooned. "All the time they want to take your

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  • Why NCAA shouldn't punish Baylor football after latest scandal

    Kenneth Starr and I were standing in the middle of a Baylor tailgate one fine Waco night in October of 2013. The Bears' football program that was once a laughingstock had become a national power – in a couple hours it would gain 872 yards and hang 73 points on West Virginia.

    This was before the game, though, with huge throngs of fans gathered around and the school president happy to chat. Starr was clad in a green and yellow tracksuit and could be described as fervently peppy. It was slightly unnerving. I previously knew him only as the author of a, um, heated report in relation to an eventual impeachment of a president, which is to say that weird situations tend to happen when you cover college football.

    One of the topics broached during our conversation was that the University of Texas was soon to have a coaching vacancy and what he thought might happen if it plopped a Bevo-sized pile of cash in front of coach Art Briles, the architect of the Baylor renaissance.

    Starr responded that

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  • How the Cavs challenged Kevin Love to find his game

    CLEVELAND – Kevin Love spent last year's playoffs mostly standing around in street clothes, limited to just four games for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Big Three became a Big Two, then Kyrie Irving got hurt and it was down to just LeBron James and then, soon enough, elimination.

    Love's impact on this team and this potential championship run isn't lost on anyone. When he fell into an Eastern Conference finals shooting slump so horrific he was essentially benched in a Game 4 loss, his teammates came at him. The opportunity was too precious for Love not to impact.

    Some were supportive. Some were challenging.

    "I wasn't … positive," Richard Jefferson said.

    Kevin Love scored 25 points in the Cavs' Game 5 victory over the Raptors. (Getty Images)Kevin Love scored 25 points in the Cavs' Game 5 victory over the Raptors. (Getty Images)Some offered a chance to commiserate, most notably a late Tuesday session with Channing Frye hitting home to Love. Frye recalled a 1-for-20 stretch he endured back in the 2010 playoffs when he was with Phoenix.

    "He said, 'It just goes to show you, no one is immune,' " Love said. " 'You just have to find different ways to make your

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  • $30M donation brought NFL another crisis of credibility

    First the NFL tried to buy itself a talking point of spin. The cost: $30 million, courtesy of a "no strings attached" donation to the National Institutes of Health, which was conducting a study on the relationship between CTE and football. Hey, look, we care so much we are funding the study. That was 2012.

    However, a doctor named Robert Stern, who had been critical of the NFL, was chosen to run it rather than doctors the league preferred. The NFL responded by trying to strong-arm doctors back in, fighting for a system where the conclusions would not face aggressive peer review and eventually pulling $16 million out of the "no strings attached" donation. What the league first claimed was goodwill was actually a way to control the conclusions. Commissioner Roger Goodell is having a hard time protecting the shield. (AP) Commissioner Roger Goodell is having a hard time protecting the shield. (AP)

    ESPN was the first to report this last year. On Monday, a Congressional investigation backed it all up in a damning, 91-page report.

    So rather than Roger Goodell getting his league a water-muddying "scientific" study, it gets itself this: a

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  • Here's why Tom Brady won't give up in deflate-gate fight

    If Tom Brady was prone to giving up or giving in, he probably never would have made it out of the University of Michigan, where he was forced to platoon at quarterback with local prep star Drew Henson (Brady would play the first quarter, Henson the second and then at halftime, the coaches chose who would play the rest of the game).

    From that unorthodox system, Brady was forged. It would have been no surprise if he'd lost focus, struggled, transferred (which earlier in his career he considered, but instead rededicated himself).

    Forget going from sixth-round draft pick to four-time Super Bowl champion. That Brady battled through season after college season of doubts and depth charts, quietly and without public or even much private complaint, head down yet focused on the long game, will explain why he is continuing the fight against his deflate-gate suspension and likely will until every last legal remedy is exhausted. (AP) (AP)

    Tom Brady isn't giving up, not then, not now, not ever it seems.

    On

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