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.

  • Tiger Woods resembling a relic from a bygone era

    AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Grill Room here at the Augusta National Golf Club includes a wall with three display cases built into it. Tradition holds that a Masters champion donates a club from his victorious year to be displayed, often the one most critical to winning.

    So there’s Arnold Palmer’s 1-iron from 1958 and Ben Hogan’s 4-wood from 1951 and Bubba Watson’s pitching wedge from 2012. It serves as a small, understated, yet completely mesmerizing trip through golf history.

    Tiger Woods hasn't won the Masters since 2005. (AP)Tiger Woods hasn't won the Masters since 2005. (AP)There in the middle display case sits a King Cobra Driver, circa 1997, the weapon a then-21-year-old Tiger Woods used to annihilate the field and this famed course. He finished 18-under par, producing records in both margin of victory (12 strokes) and television ratings (an estimated 44 million tuned in on Sunday). It changed just about everything in a sport that is resistant to change much of anything.

    They don’t hang banners or retire numbers around here.

    So we’re left with not much more than that old, now comically

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  • Why the dominance of Geno Auriemma and UConn is good for sports

    At the age of 7, Geno Auriemma emigrated from Italy to Norristown, Pa., and engrossed himself in the twin passion of Philadelphia: basketball and busting chops.

    It's proven to be an effective biographical mix. There's the immigrant's mentality of seeing limitless possibilities. There's the young student who saw learning every intricacy of a game as an entre into American life. And there was the development of a caustic wit that allows no one, no matter how great, to be placed too high on a pedestal.

    The result, all these years later in Storrs, Conn., is an alpha male running the alpha dog of women's basketball programs.

    On Tuesday, Connecticut plays Syracuse for its 11th national title and fourth consecutive, all under Auriemma's Hall-of-Fame coaching. The Huskies are 37-0 and on a 74-game win streak, each victory by double digits.

    Geno Auriemma and the Huskies are seeking their fourth straight national title. (Getty Images)Geno Auriemma and the Huskies are seeking their fourth straight national title. (Getty Images)There's a debate over whether Auriemma's Huskies are good or bad for women's basketball, which completely misses the broader point of what is going on

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  • Left for dead, Big East still alive and thriving thanks to Villanova's surprising run

    HOUSTON – Over the last decade or so, the football-driven machinations of conference realignment attempted to make impossible the following bit of reality: Villanova, of the Big East, is playing for the national title on Monday.

    If College Sports Inc. couldn’t rewrite the rules of basketball so you received a couple extra baskets if you had an 80,000-seat stadium on campus, it could try to squeeze everyone out with money and TV contracts and bloated conference memberships. It could try to leave the Big East, where basketball matters most, as some relic of the past, a quaint but ultimately quiet old place.

    Villanova 95, Oklahoma 51 – and, yes, you could hear that Big East roar here.

    Try as it might, football couldn’t kill the basketball star.Josh Hart scored 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting to lead Villanova over Oklahoma. (Getty)Josh Hart scored 23 points on 10-of-12 shooting to lead Villanova over Oklahoma. (Getty)

    “Well, the game was played in a football stadium,” John Paquette, the Big East's longtime associate commissioner, said with a smile in reference to the NFL’s cavernous NRG Stadium. You can’t fault the conference for enjoying every moment of this.

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  • Villanova carrying flag for Philly as it chases a national title

    HOUSTON – The culture of the city of Philadelphia is full of endless internal squabbles and heightened micro-neighborhood loyalties – North Philly and South, Main Line and Fishtown, heck, you can stand on the same corner and argue whether the area is called Fairmount or Art Museum.

    In Philly, they love to argue, mostly about everything and mostly with each other – on street corners and talk radio and city hall. It’s not even the clichéd debates, either. Geno’s or Pat’s? Hell, everyone knows someplace better.

    But for all the rollicking noise that comes from its fractured self, there is that moment when someone from the outside takes a swing at the place and everyone rallies together. That is Philly, standing proud despite being forever trapped in the middle of the power corridor of Washington and New York.

    So maybe college basketball was the perfect sport for Philly, which isn’t to say it rivals the popularity of the Eagles or anything like that. Nothing does.

    No, Philly hoops is

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  • Welcome to the NCAA Final Four, where 'cheating' isn't cheating and everything's swell

    HOUSTON – The fact that on Selection Sunday, the NCAA mistakenly sent a text to South Carolina inviting the Gamecocks to the men's basketball tournament, only to quickly reverse course – Steve Harvey style – and say the invitation was meant for someone else instead is, well, pretty comical.

    At least it is unless you're a member of the South Carolina basketball program, which instead got stuck in the NIT.

    "Regrettably, a text meant for another institution went to South Carolina instead," Dan Gavitt, NCAA vice president of men's basketball championships acknowledged here on Thursday. At least, the NCAA didn't Snapchat a middle finger to Valpo.

    Welcome to the 2016 Final Four, which ought to just toss out its old marketing slogan ("The Road Ends Here") and go with a new one ("Hey, Nobody's Perfect").

    Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was suspended nine games earlier this season. (AP)Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was suspended nine games earlier this season. (AP)Clerical snafus, a leaked bracket that (thankfully) undermined a dreadful two-hour selection show and a semifinal game featuring North Carolina and Syracuse, who were both involved in recent

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  • Christian Hackenberg's honesty reveals hypocrisy of NFL draft process

    Christian Hackenberg apparently blundered during interviews with NFL teams in advance of next month's draft.

    By telling the truth.

    As a freshman at Penn State, the quarterback completed 58.9 percent of his passes, throwing for 20 touchdowns against just 10 interceptions. Some pegged him as an eventual No. 1 overall selection.

    After that season however, Bill O'Brien left to go coach the NFL's Houston Texans. James Franklin took over with an offense that has traditionally skewed more to the spread than O'Brien's pro-style.

    Hackenberg's numbers dropped to 12 TDs and 15 picks as a sophomore, only to rebound to 16 TDs, six interceptions as a junior. He isn't viewed as a great prospect anymore and is unlikely to be taken in the first round, let alone at the top of it.

    Christian Hackenberg was considered a candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. (Getty Images)Christian Hackenberg was considered a candidate to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. (Getty Images)Now he's dealing with interview issues. According to Robert Klemko of MMQB, at least two front-office executives said "when asked to explain his declining sophomore and junior numbers … Hackenberg has shifted blame to Coach

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  • The Michael Sam conspiracy lacks a real conspiracy

    Who doesn't love a great conspiracy theory? Especially when it isn't concerning something serious, like assassinations or terrorism, and instead focuses on a seventh-round NFL draft pick and a cable television reality show?

    So consider this headline on the website of 590 Sports Radio out of St. Louis: "League Made Deal With Rams To Draft Sam." Or this one from Deadspin: "Did The Rams Draft Michael Sam Just To Avoid Hard Knocks?"

    Whoa. Good times.

    Sam is defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to attempt to make the NFL. The St. Louis Rams selected him late in the 2014 draft amid much fanfare. He didn't make the team and after a brief stint in the Canadian Football League is out of the game. Michael Sam (AP) Michael Sam (AP)

    The suggestion is that the NFL attempted to both rig its draft and engage in social engineering for a public relations benefit using HBO. If so, it is a bombshell of a scandal and a potentially illegal activity. So let's delve into this one, which stems from a report by Howard

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  • NFL's global plan: play everywhere, stay nowhere

    The NFL will stage a 2018 regular-season game in China with the Los Angeles Rams serving as the "home" team, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    No opponent has yet been named. No location either, although it'll be a surprise if it's anywhere other than 91,000-seat Beijing National Stadium, the centerpiece of the 2008 Summer Olympics. The NFL likes to do things big.

    Commissioner Roger Goodell wouldn't confirm specifics on Wednesday, saying only that the league is "interested" in going to China and a number of teams have said they want to participate.

    "The size and influence of China in the global marketplace can't be ignored," Goodell said wistfully.

    The NFL has been staging games in London since 2007. (AFP)The NFL has been staging games in London since 2007. (AFP)This would be bold, daring and logistically challenging in myriad ways. It's fraught with failure. It's also the future the NFL is barreling headlong into. In other words, no matter how American the game of football is, get used to it.

    It may be fitting that the Rams will be the home team. As temporary residents of the LA Coliseum, they

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  • Here's the coded message Bob Kraft sent Pats fans in sad letter to Goodell

    Robert Kraft acknowledged Monday he sent a letter (to Roger Goodell) and a prayer (to the heavens). The New England Patriots owner knows that neither stands much of a chance of being answered.

    The Patriots' deflate-gate appeal strategy is all but over. The first- and fourth-round picks are gone. The NFL will continue to hunt Tom Brady to the end of the federal court system. Bob Kraft might as well have saved himself a stamp.

    Kraft's public comments at the NFL owners' meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., weren't an update on how things are going in the case. Instead it was him letting Patriots fans in on the concession of defeat. His son, Jonathan, filled in any remaining blanks Tuesday when he told CSNNE's Tom E. Curran, "at some point you have to realize it's not going to happen." Patriots owner Robert Kraft hasn't wavered in standing by his man. (AP)Patriots owner Robert Kraft hasn't wavered in standing by his man. (AP)

    None of this is unexpected.

    Last spring, Robert Kraft mistakenly was conciliatory and accepted NFL sanctions before investigator Ted Wells' report could be thoroughly deconstructed. Kraft later apologized to

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  • Jim Boeheim has Syracuse in the Sweet 16, and why should anyone be surprised?

    His Syracuse team was banned from the tournament last year and bashed for even garnering a No. 10 seed this season.

    The team snuck in, despite he – Jim Boeheim himself – being suspended nine games over a 32-day midseason stretch, a dull, depressing period made worse by a 4-5 record. About the only thing worse was the 1-5 run to conclude the season.

    This was a team and a program and a 40-year, Hall-of-Fame coaching career, saddled again by NCAA sanctions, seemingly leaking oil at every turn.

    Yet Syracuse will tip off against Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Friday, Boeheim's 18th trip this deep into the NCAA tournament. The Orange in March, same as it ever was.

    Boeheim can be as wonderfully and colorfully indignant and dismissive as anyone. He's also never cared what other people think of him, certainly not media or opposing fans.

    Jim Boeheim has Syracuse back in the Sweet 16. (AP)Jim Boeheim has Syracuse back in the Sweet 16. (AP)So there have been no rants on the doubters, at least not many yet. Besides, he might note, that while being the show-up-the-critics underdog is fun, it's even

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