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.

  • Carson Wentz heads to Philly with thick skin in tow

    CHICAGO — It's a long way from Fargo to Philly, probably longer than Carson Wentz even realizes.

    He seems like a good dude, earnest and eager and thoughtful. He's big at offering inspirational faith-based quotes over social media. He stuck to his roots and selected "Fly Over States" by Jason Aldean as his walkout music at the draft, the only one to go country. He's extremely proud of the blue-collar ethos of his home state.

    "You have to earn everything in North Dakota," he said.

    In that measure, being Philadelphia's quarterback isn't much different. Just because the Eagles selected Wentz second overall here Thursday doesn't mean he's going to get a honeymoon period with the team's fans and media. Some say Eagles fans are the meanest in the league, but maybe they are just the least naïve; the most demanding of proof not promise.

    North Dakota fans celebrate after Carson Wentz is drafted. Will Philly fans be as kind? (AP)North Dakota fans celebrate after Carson Wentz is drafted. Will Philly fans be as kind? (AP)Thursday concluded a meteoric drive up the draft boards from an injury-plagued senior season at FCS North Dakota State to face of the franchise in the NFC

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  • The out-of-nowhere NFL draft

    CHICAGO — They stood a few feet from each other, on the eve of the NFL draft, surrounded by reporters, and tried to claim that, sure, this was a reasonable conclusion to the process. The two of them, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, going 1-2 overall … nope, there's nothing surprising about it at all.

    As recently as December you had to be a pretty serious college football fan to know even one of them, let alone both, so don't feel too bad if you tune in Thursday night and ask, who the heck are these guys?

    Goff was a three-year starter at Cal, but not until going 8-5 last fall was he on a winning team. Wentz was on a winner in college, but it was at North Dakota State in FCS ball.

    Jared Goff (AP)Jared Goff (AP)Neither played in a game that drew any kind of significant national TV rating. Goff was in the Pac-12 but in his entire career never defeated Stanford, Oregon, UCLA or USC. Wentz, meanwhile, missed eight games because of injury just last year.

    When Goff declared for the NFL draft, the league's adviser committee

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  • Federal court ruling: Roger Goodell is the God of Tom Brady

    On Monday the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit didn't just reinstate a four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, it reasserted, or even increased, the astonishing disciplinary powers of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell – powers the players' union naively handed him, of course.

    Deflate-gate has been debated and written about ad nauseam, including (or even especially) here. About the only undeniable fact from the case is that the footballs in that AFC championship a couple seasons ago weren't unnaturally deflated. Science proves that. Unfortunately, science isn't a big thing in the NFL.

    Ideal Gas Law and faulty measuring explain away the "crime," or point to numbers so miniscule no reasonable person could see them as the act of a grand conspiracy. The footballs just weren't deflated. As such, there was no deflation to punish. Everything else should be moot and considered nothing more than case study of confirmation bias and the power of

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  • Conor McGregor just forced Dana White's hand

    Conor McGregor released a statement Thursday assuring fans he wasn't retired from mixed martial arts, no matter what a cryptic tweet Tuesday implied.

    He explained why he refused to fly to Las Vegas and do promotional work for July's historic UFC 200, an act of insubordination that caused the UFC to pull him from the headlining rematch with Nate Diaz, who defeated him in March.

    "I am just trying to do my job and fight here," McGregor wrote on Facebook. "I am paid to fight. I am not yet paid to promote. I have become lost in the game of promotion and forgot about the art of fighting. There comes a time when you need to stop handing out flyers and get back to the damn shop."

    Nate Diaz, top, trades punches with Conor McGregor during their UFC 196 match. (AP)Nate Diaz, top, trades punches with Conor McGregor during their UFC 196 match. (AP)There may not be a better promoter than McGregor in sports today and in many ways this might be his finest bit of PR to date. Not paid to promote? Oh, McGregor knows better that. He's made his millions in part because he promotes.

    Thursday may have been his crowning achievement in that pursuit though. He won not just

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  • How college athletics has become a boondoggle for everyone but the students

    The College Football playoff has generated about $470 million in found revenue. (AP)The College Football playoff has generated about $470 million in found revenue. (AP)In 2011, the University of Michigan athletic department employed 253 people, according to state records. Four years later, in 2015, it was 334, up 32 percent.

    During that period, the average salary grew 22.4 percent, to $89,851. Over a seven-year span, the number of athletic department employees making six figures went from 30 to 81.

    Michigan is hardly unique. It's on par with its peers. Critics point to the salaries of big-name coaches, but it's everything that is growing in college sports.

    It's the National Collegiate Industrial Complex.

    Soaring media rights and vast new revenue streams continue to flood department coffers. Like any good non-profit bureaucracy, they have deftly figured out how to spend … mostly on themselves.

    Michigan didn't add 32 percent more sports in those four years, or 32 percent more scholarship athletes, requiring 32 percent more staffing.

    It just made about $30 million more dollars per year, from $122.7 million in 2011 to $152.5 million in 2015. Most of the

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  • NFL draft: Cleveland pulls a most un-Cleveland move

    As the story goes, two years ago, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslem stepped out of a restaurant and ran into a homeless guy who, with the NFL draft approaching and the franchise in its forever need of a quarterback, conveyed a simple message.

    "Draft Manziel." Simple message.

    On draft night, with the Browns sitting at No. 26 in the first round, with Derek Carr and Teddy Bridgewater (who a six-figure, team-issued analytical study determined was the best QB in that draft) still on the board, Cleveland traded a third-round pick to Philadelphia to move up to 22nd and do just as that dude on the street instructed.

    That Johnny Manziel has partied himself out of the league, as many teams feared he could, while Bridgewater and Carr have developed into good and potentially great players was almost predictable.

    Of course the Browns listen to the homeless. Of course.

    Was new Browns head coach Hue Jackson not thrilled with Jared Goff or Carson Wentz? (AP)Was new Browns head coach Hue Jackson not thrilled with Jared Goff or Carson Wentz? (AP)So here came Wednesday when Cleveland pulled off a highly intelligent, almost unfathomably sound (considering the source) trade.

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  • Rams No. 1 pick could be in a no-win situation

    Let's make the obvious presumption that the Los Angeles Rams didn't send six draft picks to the Tennessee Titans to move up to the No. 1 overall spot in this month's NFL Draft so they could pick offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss.

    Tunsil is a heck of a talent but this is a power move. This is a quarterback move.

    This is a move for either Carson Wentz of North Dakota State or Jared Goff of Cal. There are conflicting reports on whom the Rams might take.

    In broad strokes, scouts tend to claim Wentz has greater long-term potential but Goff isn't far behind and is more pro-ready.

    Carson Wentz won two FCS championships at North Dakota State. (AP)Carson Wentz won two FCS championships at North Dakota State. (AP)For Wentz, whatever concerns existed about level of competition have mostly evaporated via scouting combine, pro day and game film performances. Goff, meanwhile, is the darling of many analytic-based models.

    All that is certain is L.A. sent its first-round pick (15th overall), two second-rounders (43, 45) and a third-rounder (76), plus its first- and third-round pick in 2017 for Tennessee's first-rounder

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  • Jordan Spieth's Masters hopes end in a watery grave

    AUGUSTA, Ga. — A little more than two hours after bogey, bogey, quadruple bogey, a little more than two hours after he turned this place into an azalea-lined house of horrors, a little more than two hours after 7-under went to 1 and what was seemingly won went to done, Jordan Spieth emerged from the Augusta National clubhouse.

    Sunset was coming fast as he headed to a Mercedes SUV, his courtesy car. He wore a blue Under Armour golf shirt, not a green jacket like last year, like, a little more than two hours earlier, he expected to again.

    In the parking lot he ran into Nick Faldo, who exactly two decades ago played the Danny Willett role to Spieth's Greg Norman in all-time Masters meltdowns.

    Jordan Spieth became just the second defending champ to lead after 54 holes and lose. (AP)Jordan Spieth became just the second defending champ to lead after 54 holes and lose. (AP)The two exchanged a few words and a hug. Then a couple guys in green jackets, representing the rich and connected members of this club, did the same. It was like a procession line at a wake. Everyone wanted to cheer up Jordan Spieth. No one knew quite what to

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  • The Masters is a tournament again after Jordan Spieth's brain freeze

    AUGUSTA, Ga. — As Jordan Spieth stepped through the long Saturday afternoon shadows and onto the 17th tee here at Augusta National, the Masters was all but over, certainly as over as it can be with 20 holes remaining.

    Spieth was up four strokes and was about to close his seventh consecutive round leading this tournament. He'd never shown a propensity to gag away leads or back up into fields. The nearest challengers were Smylie Kaufman, he of one career victory, and Bernhard Langer, who's 58 years old.

    This was over. Done. Fit the green jacket, same as last year. Jordan Spieth isn't blowing a four-stroke lead to those guys.

    Then Spieth made the kind of mental mistake he doesn't make: he pulled out a driver. A year ago, in cruising along with a big lead on Saturday afternoon he set up in the same 17th tee box, grabbed his driver and smacked his ball into the woods. He wound up with an unforced double bogey that he'd survive, but it should have

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  • Tom Watson gets the gift of goodbye from Augusta

    AUGUSTA, Ga. — As he marched up the big hill and toward the 18th green here at Augusta National, here at his 43rd and final Masters, 66-year-old Tom Watson took off his cap and waved it in acknowledgement of the cheers and adoration and thanks coming at him in waves. He was side by side with his caddie, Neil Oxman, tearing up at all the walks they've made together.

    Oh man did the gallery here love this. Golf lives for tradition and timeless sentimentality and an old champ, an old great taking a final goodbye walk tends to stir up the soul. Watson was at 8-over, sure to miss the cut, but after saying he wouldn't competitively play here again, it didn't matter.

    A hero's farewell he would get.

    "It was special," Watson said.

    Eventually Watson would get to the green and start clapping back to the fans. Once it got quiet he damn near drained a looping 66-footer for birdie and the place lost it again.

    No sport treats its old guys better than golf, not

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