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.

  • Here's why Bill Belichick does not care to weather questions about frigid conditions

    This may not come as much of a surprise, but Bill Belichick isn't much for talking about the weather.

    Be it hot, be it wet, be it snowy or, as it is Thursday (mid-teens) and likely for Saturday's playoff game in Foxborough against Baltimore (18-20 degrees), really, really cold, the weather is just something that will happen. It is outside Belichick's control, and thus his interest.

    It's a mindset that shapes how the New England Patriots prepare for games, the season, the playoffs, pretty much everything. With the exception of the possibility of lightning, weather is never a consideration in what the Patriots are doing. New England almost always practices outdoors, eschewing the humble, old-style bubble it has set up behind Gillette Stadium. Bill Belichick (USA TODAY Sports) Bill Belichick (USA TODAY Sports)

    It meshes with Belichick's core belief that you might as well prepare for anything, which means practicing in everything. Early this season quarterback Tom Brady said New England was inside just once all year.

    Big rain, light rain, big wind, light

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  • The unlikely story of a long-snapping Green Beret with an NFL dream

    Nate Boyer – Green Beret, Texas Longhorn football player, NFL's most improbable prospect – had just finished fixing a sat-com radio in the rear of an M-ATV, light-armored, mine-resistant vehicle. Now he was scrambling to get back to the relative safety of its cabin.

    This was July 2014. This was on a thin ribbon of road on the edge of Tagab, a small village in the Kapisa Province of Afghanistan.

    This was war.

    Boyer was part of the U.S. Army's 3rd Special Forces Group, which he linked up with as a sort-of summer job, leaving major college football where he was Texas' starting long snapper for the field of battle, only to return to the States, and his team, on the eve of preseason camp.

    On this day, on the side of that road in Tagab, there were a dozen Americans and 100 Afghan soldiers they'd helped train, running a sweep for Taliban through a collection of mud huts not far from the Pakistani border.

    Boyer's convoy of maybe 25 vehicles had come under gun and mortar fire as it approached

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  • Jameis Winston will need more than talent to find NFL success

    For the next five months in the run up to the 2015 NFL draft, the debate around Jameis Winston, first-round prospect, will swing in the wildest of directions, one talent analyst surely trying to outshout the other.

    The Heisman-winning quarterback from Florida State will be hailed as everything from the most surefire prospect ever to a certain bust due to immaturity and poor mechanics.

    Pick him first. Don’t touch him. Whatever.

    Here is a not particularly hot take when it comes to Winston: no one has any idea how good (or bad) he could be, probably not even Winston himself. His future dedication to the position, work ethic and growth from noted knucklehead (at best) to professional will be the final determining factors.

    Winston has the skills to be an NFL starting quarterback. He’s big – 6-foot-4, 230 – somewhat mobile, very difficult to tackle in the pocket or on the run, and capable of making some incredible plays. He’s very good at keeping his eye downfield under pressure.

    NFL teams will have plenty of concerns when it comes to drafting Jameis Winston. (AP)NFL teams will have plenty of concerns when it comes to drafting Jameis Winston. (AP)His

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  • On '60 Minutes Sports,' Junior Seau's family tells why it's fighting NFL

    Even as far back as the early 1990s, during the initial years of Junior Seau's brilliant two-decade NFL career, the linebacker would complain to his then wife Gina of searing headaches.

    "When he would come home from games, he would go straight to the room," Gina told Showtime's "60 Minutes Sports" in an episode that airs this week. "[He'd] lower the blinds, the blackout blinds, and just say, 'Quiet, my head is, is burning.'"

    After Seau retired in 2010, his children slowly watched their dad's famously charismatic personality grow distant. He began slipping away from them. The post-NFL life they all envisioned became a nightmare.

    "I saw a man that right before my eyes [was] changing," son Tyler Seau said. "He wasn't that happy-go-lucky guy anymore."

    Family members of Junior Seau attend a ceremony to retire Seau's No. 55 jersey in San Diego. (AP)"It was hard," daughter Sydney said. "Because we were all reaching for someone that wasn't exactly reaching back, even though we know – we knew that he wanted to."

    Seau committed suicide in 2012 via a gunshot wound to his chest in a spare

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  • Brash Ravens crash Big Ben, and look to do same to Tom Brady and Patriots

    PITTSBURGH – They sacked Ben Roethlisberger five times, knocked him down three others, slammed him violently on his neck once (knocking him out of the game for a bit), picked off two of his passes (one courtesy of Terrell Suggs' meaty legs) and most importantly, romped through Heinz Field to the tune of a 30-17 victory in a AFC wild-card game.

    This was a night for the Baltimore Ravens, everything the franchise is about, aggressive, attacking, relentless.

    Baltimore is back, as brutish and brilliant as ever. Joe Flacco was efficient against the Steelers on Saturday night. (AP) Joe Flacco was efficient against the Steelers on Saturday night. (AP)

    The sixth seed in the AFC, just sneaking in with a 10-6 record, facing all road games, isn't that the Ravens way? John Harbaugh has taken this team to the playoffs in six of the last seven years, never winning more than 12 in the regular season, never going winless in the postseason, when the defense tends to find a way to grow even more ferocious.

    "We execute when it's time in January," linebacker Pernell McPhee said.

    "It feels good," defensive end Chris Canty said, "to get a win

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  • In empowering Chip Kelly, Eagles recognize what they have -- unlike 49ers with Jim Harbaugh

    Exactly how close to DEFCON 1 the situation in Philadelphia got is unknown. Here is what's known: Eagles team owner Jeffrey Lurie smartly identified talent (coach Chip Kelly) and, unlike the San Francisco 49ers' infighting with Jim Harbaugh, found a way to keep him happy, namely by getting everything out of his way.

    "It's most important that we find players that match what our coaches are seeking," Lurie said in a statement after announcing the move on Friday that ostensibly "promoted" both Kelly, who assumes final determination on the roster, and general manager Howie Roseman, who is now the "executive vice president of football operations."

    Meanwhile, Tom Gamble is out as vice president of player personnel.(USA TODAY Sports) (USA TODAY Sports)

    It's clear Kelly won the power struggle here, as the coach heading into his third year will now "oversee the player personnel department." He'll hire a GM, but it's his GM.

    Lurie followed a very smart and effective NFL blueprint. If you have a great coach or a great quarterback

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  • It’s a new day: The Big Ten is back

    NEW ORLEANS – Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany was going to be expansive in his praise, generous in his optimism, trying to promote all 14 of his league teams (and their coaches) equally. That’s understandable.

    Still, he understood.

    He was standing on the field of the Superdome, savoring every moment, every blade of scarlet and gray confetti that came courtesy of Ohio State’s 42-35 victory over Alabama in the College Football Playoff national semifinal. It capped a 3-1 day for his long-criticized league. As he should be, he was excited the Buckeyes will play Oregon on Jan. 12 for the national title.

    Urban Meyer has Ohio State back in prime time. (USA TODAY Sports)Urban Meyer has Ohio State back in prime time. (USA TODAY Sports)And while he wasn’t crowing, he was aware maybe this was a day, at the end of this week, when the league’s perception (nationally and even among its own fans) might swing back.

    Here was Year Three of Urban Meyer in Columbus, one of football’s finest coaches speeding past the mighty, mighty Crimson Tide. And it came days after another of Delany’s signature schools, the University of

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  • How Urban Meyer helped author Ohio State's storybook upset of Alabama

    NEW ORLEANS – As soon as Ohio State was selected as the fourth and last seed for the College Football Playoff, sent to play Alabama in Alabama's backyard, Urban Meyer began preaching to his players, to his coaches, to anyone who was willing to listen and come along with him.

    Just believe, he kept saying. Just believe.

    "The mind," Meyer said, "is a fragile thing."

    Believe, he said, that the Buckeyes are every bit as good as the guys they are lined up across, better in some cases. Believe they are every bit as well coached, better in some cases. Believe this is Ohio State – THE Ohio State University – and Ohio State isn't some underdog outfit that can't stand with anyone.

    Believe it was possible to author the story that Meyer and his surging program would here Thursday: a scoreboard reading OSU 42-35, scarlet and grey confetti fluttering to the Superdome floor, the Best Damn Band in the Land blaring to a delirious fan base drunker on euphoria than anything even Bourbon Street could

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  • 49ers will regret letting go of Harbaugh

    The day the San Francisco 49ers will eventually rue is almost at hand. Multiple media reports say the franchise will relieve Jim Harbaugh of his head coaching duties soon after Sunday's season finale against the Arizona Cardinals.

    The 49ers' brass has been so out in front and relentless in leaking this news, or news of irreconcilable personality issues, that it doesn't shock anymore. It's been coming for months and months. That was probably the point. Harbaugh was always going to be a goner, so don't fret about the decision, let's focus the conversation on what kind of compensation the team can get from another NFL franchise (a possible move to the University of Michigan would throw a wrench in that plan).

    It's worth noting, however, any number of high-profile spots (NFL and NCAA) are going to line up to grab what the 49ers are tossing out, including, quite deliciously if you're into revenge, the 49ers' cross Bay rivals in Oakland. (USA TODAY Sports) (USA TODAY Sports)

    There are two things you get with Harbaugh: An

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  • As free agency nears for Suh, Lions feel sense of urgency

    ALLEN PARK, Mich. – They are the Children of the Calamity, now here on the brink of finally, possibly accomplishing something. The last thing they discuss, they say, even privately, is the past … or the future, because that could be just as fleeting and fragile.

    They are the byproduct of a bad franchise bottoming out; when you get so many top picks that you can't help but be the blind squirrel of the NFL draft (Matt Millen even picked one of them).

    It's resulted in this, life in an unfamiliar present, the Detroit Lions sitting at 10-4, the current second seed of the NFC playoff race, the postseason so close that they could earn a bid with just a Philadelphia loss or tie on Saturday. If not, well, Sunday brings a trip to the flailing Chicago Bears and starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen.A franchise tagging of Ndamukong Suh could cost Detroit more than $26 million. (USA TODAY Sports) A franchise tagging of Ndamukong Suh could cost Detroit more than $26 million. (USA TODAY Sports)

    Almost no one sees the Lions as a viable Super Bowl threat but around here that isn't the point. They all know the history: just one playoff victory since 1957, the only franchise to exist for all 48

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