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.

  • How former App State commit Devonte Graham upstaged Oklahoma's Buddy Hield

    NORMAN, Okla. – Kansas sophomore Devonte Graham scored a career-high 27 points, guarded Oklahoma star Buddy Hield as if his scholarship depended on it and played 39 tireless minutes as the Jayhawks pulled out a 76-72 road triumph.

    And thus history was made Saturday at the Lloyd Noble Center: this was the finest performance ever by a basketball player who signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Appalachian State.

    That’s where Graham was headed in 2013, until he blew up as a high school senior in Raleigh, N.C. Graham then transferred to New England prep school Brewster Academy for a post-graduate season – only to be held hostage by Appalachian State, which refused to release him from his letter of intent.

    Then-coach Jason Capel understandably was bitterly disappointed to lose an undiscovered star, and there were accusations of tampering by North Carolina State. But sometimes you have to deal with rejection. The offshoot of not releasing him from his letter was that Graham could not

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  • Why Jim Harbaugh's not-so-civil incursion on SEC soil is wrong

    Jim Harbaugh’s ongoing attempt to be the William Tecumseh Sherman of college football, slashing and burning his way through the South, is really starting to get good. This could be Ken Burns’ next miniseries.

    After holding satellite camps below the Mason-Dixon Line last summer, Harbaugh has finalized invasion plans for the next strategic objective: Bradenton, Fla., home of IMG Academy and many fine young football players Harbaugh undoubtedly would like to see one day wearing Michigan maize and blue. That’s where the Wolverines will hold a week of their spring football practices during the school’s spring break, an audacious burst of Northern aggression that created a ripple of unease in the Southeastern Conference office.

    In the role of Confederate general Joseph Johnston, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey is attempting to halt Harbaugh’s flanking maneuvers. Sankey voiced his concern to Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com earlier this week: “Let’s draw a line and say, ‘That’s not appropriate.’ “

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  • Forde Minutes: Will these five 'contenders' deliver in March?

    Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college basketball (tickets to the SMU-Louisville Asterisk Invitational sold separately):

    CAN WE TRUST YOU?

    The major conference tournaments tip off in a month, so it’s time for armchair bracketologists to start eyeballing potential March breakthrough teams and busts. As it stands right now, a lot of teams that figure to be highly seeded will be trying to overcome sketchy March track records. The Minutes applies the Trust Meter to five of them:

    Villanova (1). On Monday the Wildcats moved up to No. 1 in the AP and USA Today polls for the first time in school history. They’re also No. 1 in the RPI, Ken Pomeroy’s ratings and with Jeff Sagarin, too. That’s quite a consensus around another excellent ensemble cast orchestrated by Jay Wright.

    Current Yahoo Big Board seeding: No. 1.

    The problem: This also is a program that has flamed out rather spectacularly in its past five NCAA tournament appearances. ‘Nova is 3-5 in those tourneys with

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  • Rick Pitino rails against Louisville's self-imposed postseason ban

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – “The system is broken,” Rick Pitino said, and he was off.

    A day after being told by his University of Louisville bosses that his very good basketball team will have no postseason, Pitino was by no means shying away from that painful topic. The Friday press conference to announce the school’s shocking, self-imposed ban featured a whole lot of no-comment from hired investigative adviser Chuck Smrt, and a whole lot of comment from Pitino.

    And he still wasn’t done. There was more to say Saturday.Rick Pitino reacts to an official's call during Louisville's win over Boston College on Saturday. (Getty)Rick Pitino reacts to an official's call during Louisville's win over Boston College on Saturday. (Getty)

    For a guy who isn’t supposed to talk about the NCAA investigation swirling around his team, which moved to 19-4 Saturday by burying Boston College 79-47, he talked extensively. He might be uncontrollable for the school administration right now when it comes to keeping his mouth shut, but that doesn’t mean he’s nonsensical. There was a lot from his postgame press conference to consider.

    Pitino offered an alternative to the NCAA’s tortured crime-and-punishment system, which almost

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  • Fallout of Louisville stripper scandal claims two innocent victims

    Rick Pitino addresses the media following the university's announcement of a one-year postseason ban. (AP)Rick Pitino addresses the media following the university's announcement of a one-year postseason ban. (AP)LOUISVILLE, Ky. — In the messy world of NCAA justice, here is where the scales tilt out of balance: in a Louisville locker room at their practice facility on a Friday afternoon, when two players are told their dream is dead.

    In an abruptly scheduled team meeting at 12:30 p.m., Rick Pitino had the dreadful duty of telling his Cardinals that there will be no NCAA tournament for them in 2016. No Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. The university had pulled the plug on the postseason, a self-imposed sanction for violations Louisville now acknowledges were committed related to an infamous stripper scandal that came to light last October.

    He watched them cry. He watched them encircle the two biggest victims in all this – blameless victims, graduate transfers Damion Lee and Trey Lewis. Lee arrived from Drexel and Lewis from Cleveland State last summer, chasing One Shining Moment. They had never played in the NCAA tournament, and coming to perennial power Louisville would give them their

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  • Louisville to self-impose postseason ban for alleged violations related to prostitution scandal

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – In a stunning development, the University of Louisville will announce Friday that it is self-imposing a postseason ban for the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament as a result of alleged rules violations committed by a former staffer and players.Louisville's Rick Pitino looks on during a game on Jan. 20. (Getty)Louisville's Rick Pitino looks on during a game on Jan. 20. (Getty)

    The university reached that conclusion this week amid an ongoing NCAA investigation. That investigation began in October after Louisville madam Katina Powell wrote a tell-all book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” alleging that former U of L staffer Andre McGee paid for strippers to dance for and have sex with Louisville recruits and players over a period of four years. Some of the alleged transactions and interactions took place in the players’ dormitory.

    The announcement of self-imposed sanctions came with little warning or indication that the university was considering taking action this year. A formal Notice of Allegations from the NCAA was not expected before the end of the 2015-16 season. If

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  • Georgia's Kirby Smart holds his own against Alabama with first recruiting class

    ATHENS, Ga. – The invasion was pretty much over by noon.

    It was almost back to business as usual by then at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall, the sparkling building that houses the offices for both Georgia’s football staff and its athletic administration. Hundreds of fans had taken the day off work and descended here, anxiously anticipating signing announcements for the Bulldogs’ 2016 class. They may not have had Ric Flair and Tom Brady at Georgia, but that was OK – the only star power these people cared about was the rankings of Kirby Smart’s first recruiting haul.

    And by that measurement, this was a very good day in the remodeling of Georgia football.

    By nightfall, Rivals.com ranked Smart’s 20-man class 10th, and fifth in the absurdly competitive Southeastern Conference. When looking at quality over quantity, Georgia fared better – only three schools had a higher per-player average than the Dogs’ 3.75.Georgia's Kirby Smart answers questions during a press conference on National Signing Day. (AP)Georgia's Kirby Smart answers questions during a press conference on National Signing Day. (AP)

    But one of those, of course, was Alabama – Smart’s former employer. For the seventh time

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  • Georgia commit Mecole Hardman dupes home crowd with signing day circus

    ELBERTON, Ga. – The man directing me into the parking lot at Elbert County High School at 7:56 a.m. ET was polite but firm: “You have four minutes.”

    They were closing the doors to the gym at 8:00 sharp for maybe the biggest spectacle to ever hit this town of about 4,500 near the Georgia-South Carolina border: three members of the Blue Devils football team were signing National Letters of Intent, highlighted by Rivals five-star prospect Mecole 'Meco' Hardman at 8:30. The school choice of the player Rivals.com rates the nation’s No. 11 overall prospect and No. 2 athlete would be broadcast live on Atlanta television and across the Internet to (overly) interested college football fans everywhere.Meco Hardman made the decision to go to Georgia at Elbert County High School. (Yahoo)Meco Hardman made the decision to go to Georgia at Elbert County High School. (Yahoo)

    By the 8 o’clock shut-the-doors deadline, the quaint old gym was pretty well packed with a mixture of students and adults from the community. Administrators in suits and bowties ran the show. State troopers and Elbert County sheriffs stood in the back of the gym. About 15 of Hardman’s relatives

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  • Forde Minutes: Why the NCAA tournament could look wide open

    Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college basketball (“Make UNLV Great Again” hats sold separately):

    IT’S FEBRUARY, AND NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING

    It’s 40 days until Selection Sunday, and the outlook is messier than the Republican nomination battle.

    It’s impossible to unconditionally love any team, not with so many flaws in so many places. It’s highly unwise to plant a prognostication flag and declare with any confidence that the national champion has revealed itself. It’s nuts out there.

    If there was any team to back heading into Monday night, it was North Carolina (1). The talented Tar Heels were 19-2, on a 12-game winning streak, undefeated and up two games on anyone in the Atlantic Coast Conference, hitting their stride after early season injuries. Then they visited Louisville (2), which was last seen being routed at home by Virginia, 63-47, just two days earlier.

    Naturally, the Cardinals beat the Heels, 71-65.

    This is how it goes in 2015-16. Just when you like

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  • Kansas proves more adaptable in blue-blood battle with Kentucky

    LAWRENCE, Kan. – Bill Self didn’t like playing this game. Not now, in the belly of conference play. So there was no way he was going to declare that his Kansas team beating Kentucky in overtime Saturday night was something grand and glorious.

    “It’s a good game,” he said after the 90-84 thriller was over. “But the timing doesn’t give it the same juice.”

    Self can hold firm to that line, but the deafening atmosphere in Allen Fieldhouse told a different story. To the fans, there was an entire orange grove of juice attached to this game.

    These are the two winningest programs in the history of the sport (the Wildcats are on top, with 2,194 victories to the Jayhawks’ 2,170). In a direct correlation, these also might be the two proudest, staunchest and most arrogant fan bases in the game. And in this era, where neutral-court, non-conference games are commonplace and where power programs rarely visit each other’s respective cathedrals, this was the chance for one fan base to declare its

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