Janarion Grant Could Be Rutgers' Bright Spot
Sports |  Source: rutgersday.files.wordpress.com

Janarion Grant Could Be Rutgers' Bright Spot

Rutgers is still trying to find its footing in the Big Ten.

The quality of Rutgers Football has risen dramatically in the last decade. Greg Schiano was a big part of that, and his successor Kyle Flood led the Scarlet Knights into their inaugural season in the Big Ten.

Heading into its third season in arguably the nation's most competitive conference, people are still trying to figure out the identity of this Rutgers team and what it needs to do to make a run for its first conference title in program history.

Offense has never really been an issue for this team, especially the last few seasons. Four-year starter and recent graduated quarterback Gary Nova leads the school in virtually every offensive category; he just struggled with turning the ball over. When Nova was on fire, it was usually because he was finding wide receiver Janarion Grant in stride.

Since Grant's true freshman season in 2013, he has made his mark in Piscataway. It all started with him as a seldom-used slot receiver and kick returner. In his first-ever collegiate touch, an opening kick-off to start the season against Fresno State, Grant ran 100 yards to the house without even being touched.

Two weeks later, in a huge comeback win against Arkansas, Grant ran back a punt for a 70-yard TD and nearly scored another later in the game. His incredible play earned the respect of Rutgers fans, who would literally be on the edge of their seats every time the ball was sent in his direction. I would know, since I've been going to Rutgers games for Grant's whole career.

In Rutgers' first year in the Big Ten in 2014, opposing coaches learned their lessons. The ball was rarely kicked directly to Grant, and if it was, he was either swarmed right away or was forced to fair catch. In 2015, he notably returned a kick-off 98 yards for a touchdown against Jim Harbaugh and Michigan at the Big House. The return prompted the Big Ten Network broadcasters to say: "this isn't the first time he's done this, and it won't be the last." To get an idea of his skill, here's a video of that return.

However, in his senior season, with new head coach Chris Ash in charge of the unit, Grant will have a much more significant role. In a recent team scrimmage, he had several carries on offense as well as passes thrown his way. With his speed and keen ability to make people miss, Grant could have a great season for RU in 2016. In year three in the conference, it's not about holding their own anymore for the Scarlet Knights.

They want to be productive now and have a chance to play for a Big Ten championship. In its season opener on the road against No. 18 Washington, Rutgers will look to Grant.

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Sports |  Source: gannett-cdn.com

Middle Tennessee Is Out Here Crushing Big Ten Dreams Again

The Blue Raiders don't mess around.

If you're a well-seeded team in next year's NCAA men's basketball tournament, and find yourself facing Middle Tennessee State University in the first round, you might just want to turn around and run away.

Because Middle Tennessee will crush your dreams.

You might be thinking to yourself, 'Why is that school name familiar?' It's because this year, and last year, the Blue Raiders were doing just that: knocking off a high-seed Big Ten team with a ruthless attack.

Last season MTSU, then seeded a 15-seed, knocked off Tom Izzo and 2-seed Michigan State, 90-81, pouring it on with dunks and tons of points in the paint.

On Thursday, they dominated the paint, outscoring Minnesota in close, but they also buried threes with crazy efficiency, knocking down seven of 13 shots from deep, en route to a 81-72 win to advance to the second round, where they'll face Butler, who beat Winthrop soundly earlier Thursday.

Heading into Thursday's matchup, Middle Tennessee was so well-regarded by national college basketball fans that, despite being the 12-seed compared to Minnesota's 5-seed, the Blue Raiders were actually FAVORED by betting lines to win the game!

And yet the game started perfectly for Minnesota, as the Gophers jumped out to a 7-0 lead and looked comfortable.

But the Blue Raiders answered quickly, and soon they were taking the lead thanks to great showings from Reggie Upshaw Jr., the hero of last year's upset of Michigan State, and Brandon Walters. At halftime, Minnesota was barely hanging within reach, trailing by six points at the break.

And it just kept snowballing early in the second half. The Blue Raiders couldn't miss, Minnesota's spotty offense couldn't find a rhythm, and all of a sudden it was 60-44, Middle Tennessee State, with 10:41 left to play.

Turns out, though, Richard Pitino's Minnesota team had at least one run left in them. After Pitino called a much-needed timeout, the Gophers went on a huuuuge 14-2 run over the next 3:58, drawing within four points -- just four! -- with 6:43 to play.

But that run looked like it took everything out of the Gophers. Upshaw, who finished the game with a team-best 19 points, scored seven straight for Middle Tennessee to pad their lead back to a safe number.

Just like last year, Upshaw led the Blue Raiders when they needed clutch play. The kid is a dang stud.

And that bounce-back from Upshaw and the Blue Raiders was enough to give Middle Tennessee the space they needed to notch the first upset of the tournament, and the program's second straight Round 1 win as a double-digit seed.

Heads up, Butler. MTSU is comin' for you.

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Sports |  Source: twitter.com

Vanderbilt Football Team Makes Spot On Sorority Rush Video

Rush VF!!!

The Vanderbilt football team may absolutely suck at what they're supposed to be doing, you know, playing football, but damn, they know how to make a sorority rush video. So, without further ado, let them convince you why you should join the VF sorority.

You can't tell me you wouldn't want to join VF. I would join that sorority in a heartbeat.

My favorite part is when the human pyramid tumbles down. That is quintessential sorority rush video. Also, they nailed the music. And the slow motion. They really got every part of this thing spot on. Pretty impressive to be honest. Here is Alabama's Alpha Phi rush video for comparison.

I mean, c'mon. How good does the Vanderbilt video look now? It's practically the same thing with a bunch of football players.

This has made me realize how much bullshit sorority rush videos are. No way they do anything like this in the sorority house. I imagine it more as the pillow fight scene in Animal House when John Belushi has a ladder up against the window. But maybe that's wrong too. It may just be a bunch of girls gossiping, eating, or bitching to one another how Mike stillllll hasn't called.

I hope this dispels some stereotypes about football players. These guys have a lot of balls to make this video and post it for the world to see. Football players aren't just big sweat jocks after all. At least not at Vanderbilt. But maybe that's why they can't make a bowl game.

And just for laughs, here is a 2009 rush video for FIJI at UVA, which closely resembles a sorority rush video, if you ask me.

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Sports |  Source: wallpaper.zone

The NBA All-Injury Team

The best of those whose careers have been ravaged by injury.

Sports, like life, can be unfair sometimes. You could work hard for years, crafting your skills and talents for your craft, be the top college player in the country, get drafted by an NBA team and fulfill all your dreams. Then suddenly an injury forces you to retire only a few years into your career.

The NBA is littered with players who had their potential Hall of Fame career destroyed by a freak injury or an ailing problem. Here is a starting rotation of some of the greatest players whose careers were destroyed by injury.

Point Guard: Penny Hardaway
Imagine a point guard that is the size of Magic Johnson and the athleticism of Michael Jordan. In only his second year in the NBA, Hardaway averaged 21 points, seven assist per game while helping the Orlando Magic to their first NBA Finals appearance.

Along with Shaquille O'Neal, the pair created a 1-2 punch that drew similarities to Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Even after Shaq's departure for Los Angeles, Hardaway's productivity continued and it looked like he would be the future of guards in the NBA. However, a series of knee and ankle injuries ended the once great career for the 6-foot-7 point guard.

Shooting Guard: Brandon Roy
Now this one hits close to home because Brandon Roy was one of my favorite players growing up. After Kobe Bryant, there was not a better shooting guard in the late 2000's than Roy.

After a Rookie of the Year award and three straight All-Star appearances, the Trail Blazers looked to find their superstar for the future and the beginning of a Big Three with LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden. Like Oden, Roy's knee forced him to play only 52 games during a three year period and ended his career before his 30th birthday,

Small Forward: Grant Hill
After winning back-to-back NCAA titles with Duke, the Detroit Pistons drafted Grant Hill with the third pick in the NBA Draft in 1994, hoping to return the Pistons to their Bad Boys glory. Unlike the Bad Boys however, Hill's personality was as clean as his game.

In 2000-01, Hill joined Tracy McGrady to lead the Orlando Magics for a prototype version of a super-team. In his four seasons with the Magic, Hill played a total of 47 games because of reoccurring foot, ankle, and leg injuries. Though he would play nine more seasons, he would make only one more all-star game during his career.

Power Forward: Maurice Stokes
During his three seasons in the NBA (1956-58), Stokes had more rebounds than any other player and was only behind Bob Cousy in assist. Stokes was also one of five players who recorded a triple-double in four straight games. Standing at 6-foot-7, Stokes was Magic Johnson and LeBron James before those players where born.

Unlike with every other player on the list however, Stokes career did not end for injury. In the last game of the 1957-58 season, Stokes was knocked unconscious after he hit his head on the floor. A few days later, while traveling home from a playoff game, Stokes suffered a seizure that left him paralyzed and with brain damage. Stokes would die at 35 in 1970.

Center: Bill Walton
It looked as if Walton would join Kareem Abdul Jabbar on the pantheon of NBA centers after a great career at UCLA and being picked at the top of the NBA Draft. And for the few times he was out on the court, Walton showed to be worth all that hype.

But during his 12 year career, the Giant Redhead missed two full seasons and almost missed as many games as he played in with foot and leg injuries. The fact he still ended up in Springfield does not change the fact that we almost never get to see the best of Bill Walton.

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Sports |  Source: Brandon Scalea

Alumni Gym Is The Best Student Section You've Never Heard Of

Not everyone can go to a Big Ten school anyway.

When a lot of high school seniors are applying to college, they look at the big, recognizable schools that have great football programs, sick parties, and 90,000-seat stadiums. Being the college sports fanatic that I am, I really wanted that too. But ultimately, I chose to attend Rider University, a medium-sized private school in my home state of New Jersey.

Although Rider hasn't won a national championship in any sport and doesn't have the kind of athletics program that brings in millions of dollars for the university, it is still Division I, and there's still plenty to cheer about. In fact, I've discovered that in many ways, sports at a small school can be even better.

Rider's indoor sports venue is Alumni Gym, and it looks exactly like the name suggests -- a small gym. The gym holds about 1,800, but let me tell you something, when that place is packed, there's no gym in the country more difficult to play in. The fans in the front row are a mere inches from the playing surface, so it's easy to get in the heads of opposing teams. There have been countless times since I've been going to games when the fans literally caused the opposing team to get a technical foul.

Seriously, that happens. The students are such pests to opposing players that they sometimes retaliate, and hurt their own team. We've even had opposing coaches -- that's right, Division I basketball coaches, who make well over six figures a year -- come at us and curse us out because we've annoyed them to their breaking point.

The fraternity that I'm in at Rider is full of die-hard college basketball fans, and we treat Rider Hoops as seriously as a Kentucky fan treats his Wildcats. We like to get the rest of the student section hyped up, so it's common for us to show up to the games wearing ridiculous outfits. We have dudes who wear silk bathrobes, a guy who wears a Batman suit, and a kid who dresses up as Donald Trump, complete with a "Make America Great Again" cap.

We're so notorious at these games that the basketball players themselves have come to know us well. When they see us on campus, they go out of their way to say hello to us. We've probably played a role in a couple of their wins, so we probably deserve it. In fact, a friend and I have actually beaten two Rider basketball players at beer pong, so that's the kind of talent we're dealing with here.

Our biggest game of the year in 2015-16 was at home against in-state rival Monmouth. Most people know the Hawks because of the great run they had last season, and when they came to our building, it was extremely hyped up. The game was televised on ESPNU, and our gym was packed an hour before tip-off. The broadcasters for the game dubbed us "the best student section [they had seen] all season." But of course, Rider basketball does as Rider basketball does, and we lost the game at the buzzer.

Take a look at this video of the game-winning shot by Monmouth's Justin Robinson. You can see just how tightly-packed the crowd is and how close it is to the court.

For big basketball programs like Villanova, Kentucky, and Duke, making the NCAA Tournament is a given and the program's goal year after year is to win a national title. At Rider, that probably won't happen in the near future, but we still live and die with the team. The team may not be national caliber, but we certainly have the best student section that you've never heard of.

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Sports |  Source: postandcourier.com

Stop Scheduling Power 5 Teams Against FCS Schools

Honestly, what good comes out of it?

I read today that the Florida Gators could win the SEC and still not qualify for the College Football Playoff.

If you're confused after reading that statement, you're probably not alone. The reason UF still might not be considered worthy of a top-four ranking at season's end is their strength of schedule this year is among the worst in the country. Obviously, any SEC school has its hands full when conference play is in full swing. But Florida plays two non-conference games against FCS programs in 2016. They'll open at the Swamp against UMass (which might as well be FCS), then play North Texas, then play Presbyterian (who I didn't even know had a football team.)

To this, I simply ask: Why?

Since the Steve Spurrier era in Gainsville, the Gators have always been considered among the top programs in college football. A lot of people think Tennessee is the favorite to challenge Alabama for the SEC title, but the East Division is pretty much up for grabs. Not to mention, the Vols haven't beaten the Gators in more than a decade.

So then why is second-year Head Coach Jim McElwain allowing his team to stoop to the level of Division I-AA? It's no secret that Florida's two FCS games, barring a miracle, will be outright blowouts. These games will be played at home, but do you really think the casual Gator fan will purchase tickets to see a 63-0 win?

The season opener against the Minutemen will probably sell out just because it's the first game of the year. But for the other two, I wouldn't be surprised if most season-ticket holders stay home and only the die-hards head to the game. It won't look too great on TV.

Florida isn't alone, however, when it comes to this issue in college football. Michigan State, who is coming off another Big Ten championship and playoff appearance, will host Furman in its season opener. Who even is Furman? Will they put up a fight against the Spartans? Hell no. What makes it even worse is the Spartans head to South Bend for Week 2 and will probably get smoked by Notre Dame, just because they aren't prepared.

Even Alabama, the reigning national champ, plays UT Chattanooga in November. That's right, in the middle of SEC play, the Tide will play a game against an FCS school. I expect no more than 50,000 in Bryant-Denny for that one. In fact, Nick Saban might just stay in bed that Saturday afternoon.

If you think that FBS/FCS play is necessary in college football, then you're probably referring to the biggest upset in the history of the game -- the Appalachian State win at Michigan back in 2007. The game ended 34-32, after the "Field Goal Block Heard 'Round the World."

Yeah, that was a great moment, and yeah that shocked the world. But Appalachian State actually went on to win a national championship that year at the FCS level, and the Wolverines had a mediocre season, for their standards at least. Something like that will never happen again...well, I hope. Jim Harbaugh would probably jump to his doom off the top of the Big House.

So, for the sake of college football and its great fans, let's stop scheduling these games that mean absolutely nothing. I would much rather see a team like Alabama face a powerhouse like Ohio State, then see it rout a poor, helpless FCS program. If these wins aren't helping the team's RPI, then why are they even scheduled?