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 trial: Defense makes one last desperate plea

    Aaron Hernandez (L) talks with his attorneys during his murder trial. (REUTERS)Aaron Hernandez (L) talks with his attorneys during his murder trial. (REUTERS)FALL RIVER, Mass. – Aaron Hernandez, NFL star turned murder defendant, staked a considerable portion of his football fortune on hiring the best defense team he could.

    In James Sultan, Charles Rankin and Michael Fee, he not only got skilled courtroom lawyers, but men who refused to overlook even the slightest possible disadvantage facing the former New England Patriots star in his murder case.

    Consider that at the open and closing of each day here at Bristol Country Superior Court, a court officer hammers a gavel three times and says:

    "Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. All persons having anything to do before the Honorable, the Justice E. Susan Garsh, of the Superior Court, now sitting at Fall River, within and for the Commonwealth draw near. Give your attendance and you shall be heard."

    He then concludes with the flowing statement:

    "God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

    Watch it here:

    It's often called “the Cry” and here in Massachusetts it dates back to the 1890s.

    The issue here for

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  • Aaron Hernandez trial: Defense and prosecution mock each other in closing arguments

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – In a slow, calm, yet confident voice, defense attorney James Sultan paced back and forth in front of the jury here Tuesday morning and argued his client, Aaron Hernandez, was innocent of murder and mocked a prosecution case that was full of holes and rich with speculation.

    "This is a court of law," Sultan said. "This isn't a mystery show."

    The former New England Patriots star has banked on his high-profile legal team to beat the rap of his involvement in the June 17, 2013, early-morning killing of Odin Lloyd, who was found shot to death in an undeveloped piece of industrial property near Hernandez's home in North Attleboro, Mass.

    He faces a mountain of strong, if circumstantial, evidence from the Commonwealth. So strong that Sultan was forced to all but admit critical points such as Hernandez's presence at the scene of the crime, that he may have been carrying a gun in home surveillance video taken minutes after the murder and

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  • Aaron Hernandez trial: Defense hinges on PCP-induced 'psychosis'

    Aaron Hernandez's attorneys huddle during the murder trial. (AP)Aaron Hernandez's attorneys huddle during the murder trial. (AP)FALL RIVER, Mass. – James Sultan stood behind a defense table here inside Courtroom 7 in Bristol County Superior Court on Monday afternoon and paused dramatically.

    "At this time, your honor and members of the jury, the defendant, Mr. Hernandez, rests," Sultan said.

    The murder trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez that began Super Bowl week in January is finally grinding to a close, after the defense called just three witnesses across just a few hours Monday – in contrast to 131 prosecution witnesses stretched over 39 days of testimony. That's where the defense put in most of its work, in cross-examination.

    The case now moves to dueling closing arguments on Tuesday before a jury of 12 randomly selected from 10 women and five men (three will wind up as alternates) begin deliberations on whether Hernandez was responsible for killing Odin Lloyd on June 17, 2013, in an undeveloped industrial area near Hernandez's North Attleboro, Mass., home.

    Essentially, Hernandez's

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  • Andrew Harrison's age does not excuse idiotic slur toward Frank Kaminsky

    INDIANAPOLIS – Around the Kentucky program they'll describe Andrew Harrison as uniquely competitive and occasionally emotional, much of which plays out on the court.

    He can be great. He can be, to put it mildly, a handful. He tends to wear his emotions – good, bad and ugly – on his sleeve for all to see.

    Racist? No, not that.

    Capable of doing something really dumb like muttering an expletive and a racial slur directed at Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky into a hot microphone on the dais of a Final Four postgame press conference that is being broadcast live on national television?

    Yes, that.

    "First," Harrison stated in a series of tweets early Sunday morning, "I want to apologize for my poor choice of words used in jest towards a player I respect and know. When I realized how this could be perceived I immediately called big Frank to apologize and let him know I didn't mean any disrespect."

    "He reached out to me," Kaminsky acknowledged Sunday. "We talked about it. It's over. Nothing needs to

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  • Kentucky's pursuit of perfection ends in stunned silence with loss to Wisconsin

    INDIANAPOLIS -- As the empty possessions and shot-clock violations kept piling up, as this entire dream of a Kentucky season came crashing down in a way no amount of star recruits could salvage, John Calipari called for someone to throw him a white towel.

    He was standing on the sideline of Lucas Oil Stadium, facing futility in the final minute, his blue side of the joint that had rolled up I-69 seeking a coronation now startled into silence.

    Kentucky players watch from the bench during the second half of the loss to Wisconsin. (AP)Kentucky players watch from the bench during the second half of the loss to Wisconsin. (AP)

    The Kentucky coach kept rubbing the towel over his face, effectively wiping off the sweat, less so the frustrated reality of seeing something so grand fall so fast. He eventually threw it down and walked, with the final seconds still ticking, to give Bo Ryan a congratulatory hug.

    Wisconsin 71, Kentucky 64.

    The chase for perfection: 38-and-Done.

    Done was the clutch execution – one made basket in the final 6:32. Done was the season-long dominance on the glass – outrebounded by 12, limited to six offensively. Done was the steely defense down the

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  • John Calipari picks plenty of fights, but always walks away as big winner

    INDIANAPOLIS – This was back a long time ago, back when John Calipari was at the University of Massachusetts, back when he coached in a 4,000-seat gym called The Cage, back when the NIT was a big deal, back when the idea of ever going 40-0 and winning a national championship was ridiculous, even by Cal's standards of outlandish dreams.

    John Calipari sits by his AP College Basketball Coach of the Year trophy Friday. (AP)John Calipari sits by his AP College Basketball Coach of the Year trophy Friday. (AP)UMass had a basketball program but wasn't the kind of school that cared too much about it. Maybe you win, maybe you lose, maybe Julius Erving shows up. It wasn't going to spend a gazillion bucks on athletics.

    John Calipari did care about it though. In 1988, Calipari talked his way into the job at the tender age of 29. He was ready to build a program that could win a national title. The fact the school had posted 11 consecutive losing seasons prior to his hiring didn't faze him.

    Then one day a decree came down during some budget crunch that when traveling for work, university employees would be forced to rent economy cars only, the smallest and cheapest

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  • Witness not allowed to tell jury about the time Aaron Hernandez allegedly shot him in the face

    Alexander Bradley describes a gun he saw with Aaron Hernandez on a trip to Florida. (AP)Alexander Bradley describes a gun he saw with Aaron Hernandez on a trip to Florida. (AP)The man in the picture to the right is named Alexander Bradley. He has one working eye, his left. That's because, he alleges in a civil suit, Aaron Hernandez shot him in the face while driving home from a night of partying in South Florida in February of 2013. Hernandez, according to Bradley, then left him in a field near a John Deere dealership where he could've died if not for some workers finding him.

    Alexander Bradley was on the witness stand Wednesday but he didn't get to tell that story to a jury trying to determine if Hernandez, a few months later in 2013, shot a man named Odin Lloyd six times and left him dead in a field near an industrial park in North Attleboro, Mass.

    The man in the picture, the one with that one working eye because he was shot in the face, is expected to provide crushing testimony in Hernandez's separate double-homicide trial up in Boston later this year.

    He will be called then to say that on a summer night in 2012, he and Hernandez were in a Boston

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  • Aaron Hernandez's defense appears to be … none

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Through 37 days of relentless prosecution, Aaron Hernandez's defense team has offered no alibis, little to no exculpatory evidence or any other tangible counter argument that the former New England Patriots star killed Odin Lloyd on June 17, 2013.

    Legally, of course, it doesn't have to provide anything like that, or even any defense at all. Hernandez is presumed innocent. The burden of proof is completely on the prosecution.

    Based on comments made by defense attorney James Sultan here at Bristol County Superior Court Tuesday, the defense strategy will simply be that the Commonwealth did not meet that burden.

    Michael Fee, right, will likely give the closing statement in Aaron Hernandez's defense. (AP)Michael Fee, right, will likely give the closing statement in Aaron Hernandez's defense. (AP)The prosecution is expected to rest on Thursday. The defense will get its turn on Monday, but Sultan told Judge E. Susan Garsh that he doesn't anticipate defense testimony to stretch more than a single day.

    That means Hernandez's fate in this case will rest almost completely on the ability of his high-profile and highly skilled defense team, namely co-council

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  • Aaron Hernandez lied to Patriots owner Robert Kraft about night of murder

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft likes to consider all of his employees as extended family.

    When he arrived at Gillette Stadium on the morning of June 19, 2013, he found a throng of media in the parking lot and news helicopters flying above. It was a sign that Aaron Hernandez, then just a murder suspect but now standing trial for the death of Odin Lloyd, was inside.

    Kraft made a beeline for the Patriots' weight room.

    There he found Hernandez, a star tight end, and pulled him into a side room for a man-to-man, heart-to-heart conversation. Kraft told Hernandez to look him in the eye and tell him if he was involved in the murder.

    "He said he was not involved, that he was innocent," Kraft testified Tuesday morning here at Bristol County (Mass.) Superior Court. "And he hoped that the time of the murder came out because I believe he said he was in a club."

    Patriots owner Robert Kraft took the witness stand in Aaron Hernandez's murder trial.Patriots owner Robert Kraft took the witness stand in Aaron Hernandez's murder trial. The prosecution is trying to prove Hernandez was the gunman who shot Lloyd six times in a field behind an

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  • Aaron Hernandez trial: Fiancée drops bombshell that could have sprung former NFL star

    Shayanna Jenkins describes the size of a box as she testifies in court during. (AP)Shayanna Jenkins describes the size of a box as she testifies in court during. (AP)FALL RIVER, Mass. – The entire thing came out of nowhere, which may have been the defense strategy all along.

    Monday hadn't been going particularly well for Aaron Hernandez, the former New England Patriots star standing trial here for the June 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd.

    His fiancée, Shayanna Jenkins, had offered up a series of implausible stories about why on Hernandez's command she disposed of a box from their home (which the prosecution alleges contained the murder weapon) the day after Lloyd's body was found.

    Then came a late question on cross-examination from defense attorney Charles Rankin.

    Did you ever smell the box, he asked Jenkins?

    "I did," she testified.

    And what did it smell like?

    "Sort of like a skunky smell," she said, later noting she connected that smell with "marijuana."

    It was expected the defense would offer to jurors a theory of what was inside the box Jenkins ushered out of the house and disposed of in a mystery dumpster, the location of which she can't recall.

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