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.

  • Sin City's savior? High school hire Tony Sanchez chasing history at UNLV

    Rebel Park football practice field on the UNLV campus. (UNLV)Rebel Park football practice field on the UNLV campus. (UNLV)

    LAS VEGAS – College football's most intriguing new coach casually pulls a chair up in the middle of the UNLV football locker room last Saturday afternoon, stares out at a small collection of parents whose sons he is recruiting and flashes a content smile.

    "Questions?" Tony Sanchez says. "Concerns? Ask me anything."

    He means it, and not because the guy is a natural salesman with so much passion for his new job that he can spin everything into a positive. Say, the less-than-palatial UNLV weight room which, like most things around here, could use a modern overhaul?

    Sanchez, without being asked, notes there is more than enough actual weight to lift in order to get strong enough to win, implying that some flashy, splashy space holds no real value.

    "I just need some junkyard dogs," he says, as a couple old-school fathers nod in agreement.

    This may be Tony Sanchez's first ever National Signing Day as a college coach, but he appears completely at ease. He wasn't giving those parents a

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  • Malcolm Butler's goal-line pick clinches Super Bowl win for Patriots against defending champion Seahawks

    GLENDALE, Ariz. – On the ropes, down 10 points in the fourth quarter, Tom Brady engineered a comeback to give the New England Patriots a 28-24 lead over the Seattle Seahawks with a little more than two minutes left in Super Bowl XLIX.

    Brady and the rest of the Patriots couldn't exhale until defensive back Malcolm Butler picked off Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson at the goal line with 20 seconds left to secure a dramatic championship in what will go down as one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever played.

    Malcolm Butler's forever moment in Super Bowl XLIX. (AP) Butler’s pick came soon after his deflection of a Wilson pass wound up in the hands of Jermaine Kearse on an acrobatic catch that would’ve been one of the greatest in NFL history. It also came on a questionable play call by the Seahawks, who decided not to give the ball again to powerful running back Marshawn Lynch.

    "I made a play to help my team win," Butler said. "I've worked so hard in practice and I just wanted to play so bad and help my team out. I got out there and did

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  • If this was Anderson Silva's swan song, he went out on his terms – as a legend

    LAS VEGAS – They came for the Legend because no one could be sure if the Legend would ever come again.

    They came for the lights be turned down and those haunting first beats of DMX to blast, for the signature black and yellow shorts, for that prefight moment when Anderson Silva falls calmly back against the Octagon or the one where he squats down as he's introduced.

    They came because he's the greatest of all time, at least until Jon Jones surpasses him, which was interesting because Jon Jones came also, standing in the front row filming it on his cell phone, like any old fan, shouting encouragement and coaching – "to the body!"

    The MGM Grand Garden on Saturday felt as much like a curtain call for Anderson Silva as a comeback. It felt like one more for the road because a champion this great just wouldn't allow himself to leave the way he was leaving – coming off two consecutive losses, the last one courtesy of a gruesome snapped leg and primal screams of pain.

    That was no way to end

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  • Aaron Hernandez could be found guilty of murder even if it's not proven he pulled the trigger

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – Defense attorney Michael Fee had just spent the better part of a half-hour slapping the prosecution around via a forceful, impressive and at times even mocking opening statement in the murder trial of his client, former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez.

    This was some serious lawyering, not just pointing out the weak links of the case, but perhaps even drawing the jury in on what he essentially called an elaborate con to charge Hernandez in the June 2013 murder of his friend Odin Lloyd.

    There's no gun. There are no eyewitnesses that will testify. There is no plausible motive. There was, Fee said, just a "sloppy and unprofessional" investigation hell bent on getting the football star. Fee was particularly strong because he followed a clumsy, halting and too long opening statement from district attorney Patrick Bomberg. This was a courtroom mismatch.

    Fee even attacked the most damning hurdle his client must clear: Hernandez's almost certain presence at the murder

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  • Aaron Hernandez trial set to begin next to Lizzie Borden's house, and the similarities are eerie

    Aaron Hernandez faces life in prison for the murder of Odin Lloyd. (AP)Aaron Hernandez faces life in prison for the murder of Odin Lloyd. (AP)

    FALL RIVER, Mass. – The home of Lizzie Borden sits a touchdown throw across 2nd Street from Bristol County Superior Court here in this snow-packed old mill town.

    This is where Lizzie was alleged to have killed her mother and father courtesy of 40 and 41 whacks, with an axe, respectively. (It was actually her stepmother and it was maybe 19 and 11 whacks, but that didn't make the famous rhyme work.)

    This was 1892. The ensuing trial was moved to nearby New Bedford and attracted global media attention, which helped turn it into one of the most well known who-done-its in history.

    To this day, Lee-ann Wilber, proprietor of the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum, which the allegedly haunted house has been turned into, welcomes guests and gives daily tours to people around the world.

    [Slideshow: Who's who in the Aaron Hernandez murder trial]

    The Bristol County Superior Court (top) sits across the street from Lizzie Borden's house (bottom). (Google)The Bristol County Superior Court (top) sits across the street from Lizzie Borden's house (bottom). (Google)Borden, of course, was acquitted. A lack of a murder weapon, no eyewitness testimony, an absence of what would qualify as "forensic evidence" of the

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  • Marshawn Lynch's tussle with media, NFL a brilliant move

    PHOENIX – One of the best decisions Marshawn Lynch ever made was deciding he didn't want to talk to the media.

    The Seattle Seahawks running back used to talk to the media. Did it in high school, did it in college and did it as a pro. There weren't a lot of memorable lines. He isn't exactly the Great Communicator.

    He was what he is, a heck of a football player.

    Marshawn Lynch has made it clear he's not fond of all of the attention he draws. (AP)Marshawn Lynch has made it clear he's not fond of all of the attention he draws. (AP)Lynch stopped talking to the media though and suddenly he became interesting. Whether this was planned or not, it was genius.

    Lynch is a huge star now. He's become sympathetic even when his signature on-field celebration is a profane gesture – that’s how much people like people who don't talk to the media. Of course, the idea anyone should have to talk to the media is strange.

    While everyone understands the business reason why he's supposed to speak to the media, no one actually thinks it makes much sense to fine someone for not.

    It's about the NFL's bottom line, not national security.

    So here Lynch was, climbing to a podium at

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  • Patriots vs. the World: New England's mentality amid deflate-gate

    For Belichick and Co., it's Patriots vs. the World

    PHOENIX – Bill Belichick wore flip-flops to Super Bowl Media Day.

    He had an old pair of jeans, a worn Gravis backpack and a blue hoodie that he acknowledged "sure isn't new." He wasn't dressed to impress. He didn't care.

    He looked and sounded relaxed, even when media, mostly cable news shows, tried to draw him into a discussion of deflate-gate.

    "Just focused on the Seahawks," Belichick said on ten separate occasions, plus sort of one more time, so let's go with 10.5 – not psi. The logo'd microphones scurried away.

    USA Today tried to get him to take a selfie. He declined. His thoughts on Katy Perry didn't go far. He was more willing to discuss his favorite movies – "Home Alone" and "Home Alone 2" over the Christmas holidays, and particularly "My Cousin Vinny" and the trial work of Mona Lisa Vito.

    "It's the greatest testimony of all-time," he joked.

    Patriots coach Bill Belichick speaks during Super Bowl XLIX Media Day. (USAT)Patriots coach Bill Belichick speaks during Super Bowl XLIX Media Day. (USAT)

    Belichick has turned his focus onto preparing for the game Sunday against Seattle. This seems clear. He's fought the battle against

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  • Deflate-gate finally pushed good-guy Pats owner Robert Kraft to blast the NFL

    CHANDLER, Ariz. – Seventy-three-year-old Robert Kraft is best known as an agreeable, affable, one-time New England Patriots season-ticket holder turned owner. He made billions in the paper industry, was married to the same woman for 48 years and favors French-cut dress shirts, blue with a white collar that holds a soft pink tie.

    This is not a brawler. This is a consensus builder, a philanthropist, a man who is known for creating a family atmosphere in all of his businesses. Maybe no one loves the NFL like Bob Kraft.

    Yet there Kraft was Monday, slowly rocking back and forth as he read from a prepared statement here at the Patriots' team hotel before the Super Bowl, blasting the league with everything he had.

    He was angry. He was stern. He was fighting, for his coach and quarterback, for his franchise, for his own good family name.

    All of it has been under attack since word broke over a week ago that the NFL was investigating how and why New England's footballs were underinflated in the

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  • Did NFL run sting operation on Patriots to trigger deflate-gate?

    Forget all about the most debated topics that have stemmed from the New England Patriots' use of deflated footballs in the AFC championship game – did Tom Brady order it, did Bill Belichick know about it, is Bill Nye the Science Guy even a scientist?

    The question that has clues but no conclusion, the one that could prove to be the biggest and most historic of them all is this: Rob Gronkowski can't take the air out of the deflate-gate controversy. (AP) Rob Gronkowski can't take the air out of the deflate-gate controversy. (AP)

    Did the NFL run a sting operation on the Patriots?

    And if so, shouldn't the Indianapolis Colts, and the rest of the league, be more upset about the league's investigative tactics than anything New England has been accused of doing?

    Reports have emerged during the past week that NFL teams, including the Colts, complained during the regular season and perhaps playoffs about the Patriots using underinflated footballs. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported that in response to those complaints, the league always planned on checking New England's footballs at halftime. ESPN's Ed Werder reiterated that suggestion on Twitter

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  • Bill Belichick doubles down on Patriots' innocence in deflate-gate, dares NFL to prove him wrong

    Try, if you can, to hit pause, just for a second, on whether Bill Belichick's explanation is plausible or not for why the footballs used by the New England Patriots were underinflated in the first half of the AFC championship game.

    Some will agree with every word. Some will be fascinated enough to want more information. Some will never believe him.

    For a moment, whatever. The debate on this is going to go on forever, at least unless the NFL's investigation uncovers video footage of an assistant equipment manager taking a tire needle to a game ball. And based on how bold Belichick brought it in an unprecedented and previously unscheduled media session Saturday afternoon, the czar of the Patriots is confident no such video exists. Science, defiance and a My Cousin Vinny reference highlighted Bill Belichick's news conference Saturday. (AP) Science, defiance and a My Cousin Vinny reference highlighted Bill Belichick's news conference Saturday. (AP)

    The short of it is this: the Patriots spent the week running all sorts of tests on footballs, simulating how it worked last Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

    What they found was that the way the Patriots prepare the outside surface of their footballs –

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