Pat Forde

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Pat Forde is Yahoo! Sports’ national college columnist. He is an award-winning writer, author and commentator with 25 years experience in newspapers and online.

  • Shelby Erdahl's heroic hurdle finish may restore your faith in college athletics

    When she crumpled to the track and the shocking realization came – my foot won’t work – Shelby Erdahl had an instant to decide what to do.

    The decision was excruciating but also easy. It was hard-wired into her mind through a life of making the same choice every time an obstacle presented itself.

    She would do her best. She would not quit. She would finish what she started. She would, somehow, complete the race.

    The Idaho State senior had ruptured her Achilles tendon just two hurdles into the 400-meter hurdle event on a windy, chilly day at the Big Sky Conference championships May 14 at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, Colo. The culmination of her track career, the last race of her life, literally came to a crashing pause.

    But not a halt.

    Erdahl got up and kept going.

    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    If you are a college sports fan suffering from scandal fatigue, I don’t blame you. Assaults at Baylor. Strippers at Louisville. An Alabama football star in possession of a stolen

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  • Meet Lani, the horse that threatens to make the Preakness weird

    The list of obstacles to a Nyquist walkover Saturday in the Preakness is dwindling daily.

    One of the biggest potential X factors was likely removed in the post-position draw Wednesday, when the undefeated Kentucky Derby champion – given morning-line odds of 3-5 – wound up with post No. 3 in the field of 11. The best thing about that post is that it is three spots removed from crazy horse, Japanese import Lani.

    He's one of the oddest entrants in Triple Crown history.

      Lani drew post No. 6, which puts him between two of Nyquist's strongest challengers: second betting choice Exaggerator (3-1) is to Lani's inside, while fourth choice Collected (10-1) is to Lani's outside. If he comes out of the gate sideways and bumps either rival, it could heavily affect their chances.

    Trainers Keith Desormeaux (Exaggerator) and six-time Preakness winner Bob Baffert (Collected) announced no concern about drawing next to Lani – "not at all," Baffert said in a text – perhaps because Lani broke with glacial

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  • Baylor needs to take hard look in mirror after latest damning report

    Almost every college football program will take chances on players with violent tendencies. After all, it requires a certain amount of savagery to excel at the sport, and a percentage of those who do excel aren't able to limit their aggressiveness to the playing field.

    (Getty)(Getty)

    So, on teams with 85 scholarship players, volatility is a common side effect. There are going to be behavioral problems. This is a legal and moral compromise most coaches – and most fan bases – are willing to make in pursuit of glory.

    When those problems arise, a large segment of said fan base will spring into deflection mode. There will be vigorous finger pointing elsewhere, finding some program that is more morally adrift than Our School, and wondering why more attention isn’t being paid to them.

    But where do you point the finger right now if you’re Baylor?

    As the layers of violence continue to be peeled back, it becomes increasingly clear that the coaching staff and school have taken their tolerance of criminal

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  • Dale Romans, 'happy to be alive,' heads to Preakness

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hours after the Kentucky Derby had been run on May 7, trainer Dale Romans was walking through the Churchill Downs grounds when he saw longtime track executive John Asher. Romans' horse, Brody's Cause, had finished seventh. The 49-year-old Louisville native was wondering if his time might ever come to win the race he cherishes most.

    "Promise me you'll run this race again next year," Romans said to Asher.

    "You'll be back," Asher responded.

    Dale Romans (AP)Dale Romans (AP)Not long after that, Romans was involved in a car accident just a few blocks from Churchill. Forget next year's Derby; he almost didn't see the next day.

    Romans was driving five passengers south down placid, tree-lined Southern Parkway, away from the track. A car coming off Evelyn Avenue ran a stop sign and collided with Romans' Hyundai, pushing it into oncoming traffic. The passenger's side of the car was then rammed by a car going northbound.

    "It was a very violent accident," Romans said.

    Here's how violent: one passenger fractured

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  • Hey American Pharoah, here comes Nyquist

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Doug O'Neill's Saturday began with a 4 a.m. visit to Churchill Downs Barn 41 to check on his colt, Nyquist. When you're saddling the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, sleep is fleeting and nerves are jangling.

    After everything checked out fine, the trainer and his crew paid a visit to the apartment of Louisville basketball equipment manager Vinny Tatum. Tatum has been a fixture at the Nyquist barn all week, serving as something of a goodwill ambassador to O'Neill, who has had Louisville coach Rick Pitino as a client in the racing business for years.

    At 9 a.m. Saturday at Chez Tatum, the entourage decided it was time for the ritual pouring of the chilled tequila. Shots – deep shots – of Patron Silver were passed out. Multiple rounds.

    "You need to take the edge off," O'Neill said a little sheepishly about 10 hours later, as he triumphantly walked away from the Churchill winner's circle after Nyquist rolled to Derby victory.

    Mario Gutierrez celebrates after riding Nyquist to victory. (AP)Mario Gutierrez celebrates after riding Nyquist to victory. (AP)The ritual pouring of the chilled tequila was a

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  • Outwork offers Mike Repole shot at Derby redemption

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Mike Repole wants a picture.

    He is waiting for the 3-year-old colt he owns, Outwork, to finish walking the shedrow at Churchill Downs Barn 40 after his morning workout and bath. When Outwork is guided into stall 35, Repole has the setting he envisioned.

    Mike Repole, right, and trainer Todd Pletcher (AP)Mike Repole, right, and trainer Todd Pletcher (AP)He twists the wrapper off a peppermint, beckons his wife, Maria, scoops 10-month-old daughter Gioia into his arms and heads toward Outwork. A friend is pressed into photographer duty to record the moment. Repole feeds the peppermint to his Kentucky Derby horse and pats Outwork's nose while holding his baby girl with his wife at his side – the loves of his life gathered in one frame. Picture perfect.

    Thirty minutes earlier, the 47-year-old Repole led an entourage of 12 onto the track to watch Outwork gallop. And when I say onto the track, I mean the actual racing strip – not usually the province of pedestrians. There was a huge throng of people in the Churchill Barn area Thursday morning to watch the Derby horses work

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  • Will the Kentucky Derby suffer an American Pharoah hangover?

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For many years, Bob Baffert has been the most recognizable face in thoroughbred racing. The sunglasses, the silver hair, all the big races won – they have combined to make the trainer a fan magnet. Somebody is always coming up to say hello, especially in a bedrock racing town like this one.

    Baffert's mobility has been reduced even further this spring.

    In years past at Churchill Downs, he couldn't move more than 20 feet without being stopped. On the short walk from the track to his Barn 33 here Tuesday morning, he was approached roughly every five feet. When he slowed down for one group, here came another, fumbling for iPhones and producing memorabilia for him to sign.

    "It's all about photographs and autographs in my life," Baffert said, half-joking.

    Bob Baffert sports an American Pharaoh jacket as he talks to media Monday. (AP)Bob Baffert sports an American Pharaoh jacket as he talks to media Monday. (AP)Celebrity status was fully conferred after his dazzling colt, American Pharoah, won the Triple Crown last spring. That ended a 37-year drought between crowns, a deprivation that came to hold racing hostage as it churned

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  • The Kentucky Derby favorite who's nobody's favorite

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The favorite for Saturday's 142nd Kentucky Derby is a colt named Nyquist. Fortunately, he is unable to complain about the lack of respect he has been accorded.

    Because if Nyquist were an athlete equipped with vocal chords, we would hear no end about the haters and doubters in his path. This would be a Chip on the Shoulder Special, a succession of laments about being unloved by the press and the betting public.

    Here is why: Nyquist is undefeated, a perfect 7-0 in his lifetime, a record rarely carried into the Run for the Roses. He stamped himself as North America's premier 2-year-old colt last year by winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He stamped himself as the Derby favorite on April 2 by winning a much-anticipated Florida Derby, dominating his showdown with fellow unbeaten Mohaymen.

    Yet the embrace of Nyquist has been restrained, to say the least. The hype train has not left the station.

    Nyquist is bathed following morning training. (Getty Images)Nyquist is bathed following morning training. (Getty Images)Las Vegas projections have him opening at no better than 3-1 odds, despite the

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  • What Ole Miss could be facing in aftermath of Laremy Tunsil mess

    Opinions from three people familiar with the NCAA investigative process varied Friday on the jeopardy Mississippi could face after the social-media revelations Thursday night aimed at first-round draft pick Laremy Tunsil.

    One source told Yahoo Sports: “This information is as compelling and incredible as you can get at the NCAA. But it’s not a slam dunk. They’re going to have a hard time proving it.”

    But another said of the Rebels: “They’re screwed.”

    This is one of the problems with the complex world of NCAA rules and procedures. Even those well-versed in them can see a situation very differently.

    A text image of Laremy Tunsil's alleged conversation.A text image of Laremy Tunsil's alleged conversation. All three sources agreed on one thing: further investigation of Ole Miss undoubtedly already has begun. The school released a statement Friday saying it “will aggressively investigate and fully cooperate with the NCAA and the SEC.” And the NCAA assuredly has been in communication with the school. (The NCAA refuses to comment on current investigations; Ole Miss in January received a Notice of

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  • What Laremy Tunsil's apparent admission means for Ole Miss and Hugh Freeze

    Mississippi football has spent three years walking a high wire without a net.

    Thursday night, after several wobbles but just inches from finishing this dangerously ambitious walk in triumph, the Rebels fell.

    It could be a very hard landing.

    The first round of the NFL draft, generally a celebration for young men and the schools they attended, turned into a real-time nightmare for Ole Miss and a stunning series of embarrassments for its star offensive tackle, Laremy Tunsil. In a viciously timed display of social-media revenge, someone apparently hacked into Tunsil’s Twitter and Instagram accounts – posting information that led the No. 13 pick to admitting that a released video of him smoking what appears to be marijuana in a gas mask was real, and apparently admitting that he took money from an Ole Miss staffer while a player for the Rebels.

    Laremy Tunsil appeared to indicate he received money from a member of Mississippi's football staff. (AP)Laremy Tunsil appeared to indicate he received money from a member of Mississippi's football staff. (AP)How’s that for destroying draft night? And further jeopardizing Ole Miss' tenuous status with the NCAA?

    After this startling live attack on his

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