NEWS, TRENDS AND EVENTS
Canceling LSU home game a 'non-starter' for fragile Baton Rouge economy: (ESPN.com, Published Oct. 12, 2016) When Hurricane Matthew's approach forced the LSU-Florida game to be postponed, many figured that LSU would simply cancel its Nov. 19 home game against South Alabama and play that day at Florida instead. There were many reasons why LSU adamantly refused to do that -- one of which was that its home city was in desperate financial shape following the historic floods that overwhelmed Baton Rouge in the summer. The city needed the influx of cash that accompanies each LSU home game, which several economists and restaurateurs explained in this story.
Unheralded factor in Patriots' winning culture: A roster loaded with college captains:(Forbes.com, Published Feb. 1, 2018) Leadership is not a measurable trait like a time in the 40-yard dash or a number of reps on the bench press, but the New England Patriots seem to value that intangible as much as those workout skills. Nineteen players on their two-deep depth chart in the 2018 AFC championship game were captains on their college teams, helping create a professionalism in the locker room that is a vital -- if underappreciated -- element of the franchise's success.
After a summer of heartbreak, LSU again playing for Louisiana: (ESPN.com, Published Aug. 23, 2016) LSU players' families were not spared from the devastating floods that hit Baton Rouge in August, barely a month after weeks of unrest between local law enforcement and the community. LSU's players and coaches recognize that football success can bring a measure of healing to the community, so they set out to help the many Tigers fans affected by the flooding with their play on the field.
Draft reveals impact of pro-day script: (ESPN.com, Published May 8, 2014) Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel made waves when he completed his NFL pro day passing session while wearing shoulder pads, not shorts and t-shirt like most players. His personal coach, George Whitfield, discussed that decision, and other 2014 QB prospects chimed in with their thought processes on what they were looking to prove in their passing sessions at pro day.
NCAA tournament's biggest spenders usually rank among its biggest winners, too: (Forbes.com, Published March 7, 2018) I traced the expenses of college basketball programs that participated in the 2017 NCAA men's basketball tournament and determined that only one of the 68 participants had spent less than $1 million on its basketball program that year. Being good enough to receive an at-large bid comes with a substantial price tag. Of the 36 teams that received at-large bids, 32 reported at least $6 million in men's basketball expenses that year.
In-state opponents add spice to schedule: (ESPN.com, Published Sept. 9, 2014) Bradley Dale Peveto has coached on both sidelines at Tiger Stadium. He is a two-time LSU assistant coach and also brought his Northwestern State team there as head coach in 2011. Just ahead of LSU's game against Louisiana-Monroe in 2014, Peveto discussed what it meant to bring a team loaded with Louisianans to play the state's flagship team. Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin also chimed in on the subject, just weeks after his school renewed its in-state rivalry with Southern Miss.
Fewer schools hiring alums as coaches: (ESPN.com, Published April 9, 2015) Although the trend of hiring alumni coaches stayed fairly steady at most major conferences, it had plummeted by 2015 in the SEC. This was part of a story package that included a list I compiled of good and bad alumni hires and stories by other ESPN.com staffers on the numerous alums on the Texas Tech coaching staff and the number of Big Ten alums coaches ranking highest among Power 5 conferences.
First-round draft prospects' draft exposure worth $50 million, maybe more, to college programs: (Forbes.com, Published April 27, 2018) For the elite quarterback prospects in the conversation to become the top overall selection in the 2018 NFL draft, their college programs could not have paid for more valuable exposure. Well, maybe they could have, but it might have cost as much as $50 million in advertising dollars according to Joyce Julius & Associates, which tracks the equivalent value of media exposure for college athletes and teams.
LSU experiments with new technology to diagnose head injuries: (ESPN.com, Published Sept. 4, 2015) Since concussions have become such a hot-button issue in football over the last several years, there has been a rise in scientific innovation to assess and possibly prevent head injuries. I spoke with medical staffers at UCLA, Florida, LSU and Penn State for a two-story series on what can be done. The second story focuses on the addition of an independent medical observer who can stop games if necessary if a player needs medical attention.
Caddie Evert charmed by National, husband's play: (Augusta Chronicle, Published April 9, 2009) I tracked down tennis legend Chris Evert on the back nine of her husband Greg Norman's Wednesday practice round at the 2009 Masters and had a lovely conversation with her about the similarities between Augusta National and her favorite tennis venue, Wimbledon. This was not one of the most memorable stories I ever wrote, but it was certainly one of my most memorable experiences as a sports writer.