TCU's Gary Patterson Wins the Bear Bryant Award

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Having improved from 4-8 on 2013 to 12-1 in 2014, the TCU Horned Frogs were statistically one of the most improved teams in the country. However, if you ask TCU head football coach Gary Patterson, he will tell you that it was as much about the ball bouncing the right way this season as it was the improvement of his squad.

"We lost a lot of close games in 2013. We weren't a bad football team," said Patterson. Ultimately, the improvement in 2014 led to a 12-1 record, a near miss for a spot in the College Football Playoff, and a resounding 42-3 win over Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.

And for Patterson personally, in Wednesday night, it led to his being named the 2014 winner of the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award for the nation's outstanding college football coach.

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The Houston Texans Should Draft Cardale Jones

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Opportunity comes a' knockin'...
The confetti has fallen, the trophy has been handed out, and I think it goes without saying that the first College Football Playoff, despite two of the three games being eventual blowouts of 20 points or more, has been a rousing success.

The numbers are not in, but even on a crowded night of Monday television -- damn, with Monday Night RAW, Celebrity Apprentice and The Bachelor sitting on my DVR, I'm sunk this week -- I'm guessing that Ohio State's 42-20 rout of Oregon, a game that should have been even more lopsided, was easily the most watched game of the season, and maybe of the past couple of decades.

Opportunity comes at strange times and in odd ways. As much as we plan for the future, tribulation and fortuitous luck both just happen sometimes. You can't plan for those things. All you can do is plan once they happen, then adapt and move forward. And I say this because who could have seen Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones's lottery ticket coming three months ago?

The conductor of the train that steamrolled a three-game gauntlet of Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon to the tune of 47 points a game now has a decision to make. The redshirt sophomore who looked like a raw version of Cam Newton in these three games (a compliment, by the way) could turn pro.

I think this is a no-brainer. Cardale Jones needs to go pro, and the Texans need to draft him.

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College Football Playoff Title Game: Predictions and Prop Bets

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collegefootballplayoff.com
It's been forecast that Monday's College Football Playoff title game could be the most watched game in college football history. It most certainly will be the most wagered upon game in college football history. The hype and attention the game has received with little to no backlash for overload has been at high NFL playoff-to-Super Bowl levels.

So I think it's pretty safe to say that, regardless of the outcome of tonight's game, the four team College Football Playoff has been a resounding success. And not just a "curiosity" success like, say, the XFL, where we see a dip in interest next season. This is the way it should have been all along. Everyone knew it, it just couldn't happen until the college football powers that be were guaranteed to pocket more money from this playoff than they would in their boondoggle of a bowl system.

And perhaps the greatest indicator that the four team playoff was the right approach? We have a matchup that would not have happened under the old two team BCS format. Under those rules, we likely would've had Alabama and Florida State, both of whom were clearly inferior to Oregon and Ohio State on New Year's Day.

We have the two best teams, as it should be. Now, let's examine some storylines, prop bets, and make a pick.

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Kenny "Trill" Era Is Over, QB Will Transfer From Texas A&M

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CSPD
Kenny Hill, following his March 2014 arrest for public intoxication
The big question for Texas A&M's football program heading into the 2014 season was "What would life be like after Johnny Manziel?" We all knew that A&M's 20 wins the previous two seasons were largely a product of the individual greatness of the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, so we wondered just how strong the non-JFF foundation was with this A&M program.

Redshirt freshman Kenny Hill would be taking the reins, and after a thorough beatdown of a top ten South Carolina team on the road in his debut, a debut that would include 511 passing yards and three touchdowns, the answer seemed to be that the A&M program was now on "juggernaut autopilot," and it was Kevin Sumlin's system that was driving the last two seasons more than Johnny Football.

However, showing that narratives are basically made of papier-mâché, four months later, humbled and benched, Kenny Hill is leaving Texas A&M, sources close to Hill and the program told ESPN.com on Thursday.

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The Sports World Reacts To The Death Of ESPN's Stuart Scott (1965-2015)

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By Alan Rose (Stu and Alan) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
A few weeks ago on the Monday Night Football pregame show on ESPN, Suzy Kolber was sitting in for Stuart Scott hosting at the onsite desk. I can't recall which former players she was sitting with (likely some permutation of Steve Young, Trent Dilfer, and Ray Lewis), but at the end of the segment, just before kickoff, she had the crew come out to the desk to join them.

At that point, Kolber sent tearful wishes and prayers to Scott, then the whole lot of ESPNers joined hands and raised their arms to salute to the longtime personality, who had been battling cancer on and off for seven years.

It was at that point that you knew that Scott's health situation, the severity of which he did his best to shield from his viewing audience (save a very revealing speech at the ESPY's in accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage Award), was grave.

On Sunday morning, Stuart Scott passed away in a Hartford, CT area hospital at age 49.

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UPDATED Do You Believe In Miracles? The Houston Cougars Sure Do

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Never give up, never surrender

Updated 5 p.m. 1/5/2015: UH announced this morning that David Gibbs has stepped down from his post as interim head coach and defensive coordinator.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my two seasons at Houston and appreciate the efforts of our student-athletes, especially that of the Third Ward Defense," Gibbs said in a statement provided by the university. "While we've had positive discussions with Tom Herman and a great opportunity at UH, my family and I feel as it is time for a new challenge and are looking forward to the next steps in our journey. I'd like to thank Mack Rhoades for his trust in naming me interim head coach during my time at Houston."

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Original story:

Houston sports fans are used to stunning second half comebacks and miracle last second wins. What they're not used to is a Houston team being on the winning end of that comeback. But on Friday, on a cold, wet, miserable day fit for no one, the Houston Cougars (8-5) scored 22 points in the final 3:41 of the Armed Forces Bowl to defeat the Pittsburgh Panthers (6-7) 35-34.

The Cougars trailed 31-6 heading into the fourth quarter, and had accumulated just 37 passing yards for the entire game. But the team's anemic offense suddenly sprang to life, gaining 292 yards in the quarter as Greg Ward, Jr. threw three TD passes. The Cougars also recovered two onside kicks, and converted a two-point conversion with 59 seconds on the clock to gain the team's first and only lead of the game.

It was unlike any game the Cougars have played in years. There were multiple games this season that saw the Cougars overcome deficits only to lose on the last possession -- three of the team's five losses came down to the very last play of the game. So no person who watched the Cougars play this season expected a last minute score, and definitely no one expected the Cougars to overcome a 25-point deficit to win a game.

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College Football Playoff: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

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Photo by Don Hankins
The Ducks got the massive win over Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles.
Back in the day, before there was a BCS, before the bowl season was one big three-week participation ribbon for every team that finished at or above .500 in college football, the bowl season had massive concentration on New Year's Day.

In short, there were fewer bowls and a large number of the ones that existed (and certainly all the ones that mattered) were played on New Year's Day. There was also no BCS or College Football Playoff. Instead, the polls decided the national champion, and as a result, many years, there were three or four bowls that had true championship implications, oftentimes being played simultaneously.

As the national champion was often not decided in a head-to-head matchup, it was most definitely an imperfect system, but in some ways it was gloriously imperfect, giving us months (sometimes years) of subsequent debate (always fun!) and one day a year of a fire-hose deluge of meaningful college football right in the face.

New Year's Day pre-1993-ish was College Football, proper noun status! It was awesome.

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College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets

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Joel Kramer via Flickr Creative Commons

Sometimes, you need to take one step backwards to take two steps forward, and for me that happened earlier this week.

One of my small plays during the week in college football was Ole Miss as a three-point underdog to TCU. I figured TCU might come out flat because of their disappointment with being left out of the College Football Playoff, and nearly every "person with an opinion I respect" was on Ole Miss (which actually, unto itself, should've been a red flag).

So I happily put a sawbuck or two down on the Rebels and settled in to watch some college football. And it was evident from the first three plays of the game -- all aborted, horrific passes by Ole Miss train wreck quarterback Bo Wallace -- that I was on the wrong side.

I don't think I've ever watched a game with as small a spread feeling like I had ZERO chance of winning a wager. And it was all because of one position -- the quarterback matchup. Trevone Boykin was a Heisman dark horse this season. Bo Wallace is a hot mess, especially with Ole Miss's best receiver injured.

It was something so blatantly obvious, I felt like a total fool for backing Wallace, and I vowed I would not let that happen again. At least not this week.

So with that in mind, here are my picks for the four NFL wild card round games this weekend...


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Some (More Than Likely Wrong) Sports Predictions for 2015

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The year 2015 brings some bad news for Craig Biggio fans.
Welcome to the second day of 2015. It's that time that I make my predictions for what's going to happen in the upcoming months. Most of these will be wildly wrong, but who knows. Every now and then I actually get something right. So...

10. Jadeveon Clowney tears his ACL on his first play back on NRG Stadium turf. The Texans still refuse to acknowledge any problems with the pallet system. The next game, J.J. Watt tears his ACL and must miss the entire season. At this point, the NRG Stadium turf is immediately ripped out and replaced by the rotting astroturf sitting inside the Astrodome.

9. The Rice Owls win Conference USA, the second time in three seasons the football team has pulled this off. The Houston Cougars, under new head coach Tom Herman, win eight games and look to be a vastly improved team with high-powered offense and an attacking defense.

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Countdown to King of Content 2014: 1. Johnny Manziel

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For four months earlier last year, Johnny Manziel had everybody fooled. Hoodwinked. Bamboozled!

Right after he announced his intentions to head to the NFL, Manziel immediately began taking measures to portray an NFL-friendly image, sending the message that his hard-partying ways were a thing of the past. He took a hiatus from social media, getting off Twitter altogether. He began working out daily with his personal QB coach, George Whitfield, in San Diego.

Manziel essentially became a football hermit. When he did media sessions, he'd talk about how he'd matured and changed and how football was the most important thing.

At this point, if you'd asked odds on Manziel capturing the King of Content title for 2014, he might not have even been on the board. How do we write about Johnny when he's not using Twitter or Instagram to give us the kindling?

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