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Friday, September 30, 2011

Withers, McNeill to make history while State and Duke face tough assignments

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2011 at 2:13 PM

Perhaps what matters most is that almost nobody is writing about it now. Photo courtesy UNC athleticsUNC coach Everett WithersBut some history is going to be made at 8 p.m. on Saturday night at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium in Greenville. UNC (3-1) will travel to East Carolina (1-2) for yet another big in-state matchup, and for the first time ever two African American coaches will be guiding North Carolina Division I-FBS teams against each other when the Tar Heels' Everett Withers squares off against the Pirates' Ruffin McNeill. Jim Caldwell, now head coach of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, was the ACC’s first...

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tampa Bay Rays beat odds, make the playoffs, and the Durham Bulls' Dan Johnson is the extra 2%

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2011 at 6:00 AM

Photo by Al DragoThe Bulls' Dan Johnson is congratulated after hitting a homer at the DBAP earlier this season. ESPN—The Tampa Bay Rays made the playoffs last night. You wouldn't have imagined that outcome for most of the season, especially not when it started. The Rays lost their first six games of the year. They finally won one on April 8, when Dan Johnson hit a three-run home run that capped a five-run, ninth-inning rally and beat the Chicago White Sox. Still, they were nine games behind Boston in the wild card race less than a month ago. But if...

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly — Carolina RailHawks finish regular season with 4th straight loss, 2-1 to NSC Minnesota Stars

Posted By on Sun, Sep 25, 2011 at 9:49 AM

Rob Kinnan PhotographyCarolina RailHawks enjoy bittersweet celebration of NASL regular season title following loss to NSC MinnesotaWAKEMED SOCCER PARK / CARY — The Good: The Carolina RailHawks celebrated their 2011 NASL regular season crown Saturday night under seasonable weather and before a near-capacity crowd of 6,234 at WakeMed Soccer Park, the third-largest attendance in RailHawks history and the most since September 1, 2007. NASL commissioner David Downs took a hastily-planned trip to Cary to stand behind a banner after Saturday’s regular season finale and present the RailHawks with a replica claret jug commemorating the otherwise unofficial title. “I hope it...

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Duke puts on a show in whipping Tulane to level record

Posted By on Sat, Sep 24, 2011 at 8:30 PM

WALLACE WADE STADIUM/DURHAM Duke comes into its annual Homecoming game on a bit of a roll, following its 20-19 escape at Boston College a week ago. Photo courtesy Duke athleticsDuke QB Sean RenfreeThat piece of luck got things back into reasonable order, balancing out the Blue Devils’ season-opening 23-21 loss to Richmond, and kept the bowl dream alive with a 2-1 record (1-0 ACC). Today’s opponent on a damp day is Tulane (2-1), which will come into the contest before a half-full stadium a 10½-point underdog. Tulane, another one of those “Southern Ivies” similar to Duke, has a 2-0 lead...

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Seeing yellow: Etienne Barbara's bookings a lingering subplot to Carolina RailHawks regular season finale with NSC Minnesota

Posted By on Sat, Sep 24, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Rob Kinnan PhotographyCarolina RailHawks look to have their hands full with NSC Minnesota tonight at WakeMed Soccer ParkThe Carolina RailHawks hope to avoid ending the regular season the same way they began it. The April 9 home opener versus the Puerto Rico Islanders was a 2-1 loss on a game-winning goal surrendered in stoppage time, fought amidst a monsoon that delayed the match for nearly two hours. With the RailHawks forecasting a near-sellout for tonight’s regular season finale against the NSC Minnesota Stars at WakeMed Soccer Park, it figures that the weather forecast is answering with precipitation. Between these two...

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Friday, September 23, 2011

UNC hopes to stay perfect Saturday, Duke aims to stay on track

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 1:56 PM

UNC’s actual 2011 football team doesn’t seem to have had its performance affected much by the past scandals surrounding the program. Photo courtesy UNC athleticsUNC coach Everett WithersThe Tar Heels have been pretty impressive after three games, going 3-0 overall and 1-0 against the ACC. But on Saturday they’ll get their first big road test, visiting conference foe Georgia Tech (3-0) in the Yellow Jackets’ ACC opener at noon. Meanwhile Duke (1-2), which is coming off an emotional 20-19 win at Boston College in which the Eagles blew a chip-shot field goal in the final minute, will return home for...

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

O'Brien goes home as Wolfpack gets tough road test tonight

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 10:24 AM

Tom O’Brien has been coaching college football for a very long time, but tonight’s N.C. State game at Cincinnati will mark the first time he has ever coached in his hometown. Photo courtesy NCSU athleticsState QB Mike GlennonThe Wolfpack (2-1) faces its biggest non-conference test of the season tonight at 8 (ESPN) when it takes on Cincinnati (2-1) at Nippert Stadium in State’s toughest non-conference test of the year. It will be the first night road game for QB Mike Glennon as a starter. “Everything’s condensed, and everything is faster,” O’Brien, whose last football experience in Cincinnati was playing for...

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Four 16-team "super conferences" is the way to go in college football

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Slowly but surely, the move to four 16-team “super conferences” at the top level seems to be taking shape. And that can’t be anything but good for college football. With the really big-time schools trimmed neatly into four groupings, all that would be needed for a true “National Championship” would be one “plus-one” game at the end, following two huge bowl games two weeks earlier after the conferences play their title games. How to expand to 4 x 16? Easy. The ACC adds Connecticut and Rutgers. The Big 10 adds Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Notre Dame. The Pac-12 adds...

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A kick in the teeth to the UNC fan: Why vacating wins matters

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 3:05 PM

File photo by D.L. AndersonUNC released its response to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations (NOA) on Monday, in advance of next month’s hearings with the NCAA in Indianapolis. The short version of the story is that in eight of nine alleged violations, we can drop the term “alleged.” The university agrees with the NCAA’s findings of violations in every case save one, the NCAA’s charge that Carolina failed to monitor social networking sites adequately. Carolina’s response surprised few who have followed the case closely, but the document still makes for interesting reading. UNC in several cases points to partially mitigating...

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

ACC scores a knockdown punch in expansion wars by welcoming Pitt, Syracuse. Who's next?

Posted By on Sun, Sep 18, 2011 at 8:39 PM

File photo by D.L. AndersonUNC takes the field in 2010.All this conference expansion and realignment talk over the second half of the summer has confused and perplexed just about anyone who follows college sports. And then on Sunday the ACC surprised just about everybody — at least with its swiftness and clarity of action though not with the final result — with a knockdown punch. The media had only about 8 ½ hours official notice that the 58-year-old conference would expand to 14 teams with the additions of Pittsburgh and Syracuse, completing the conference’s unbroken footprint of states from Florida...

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Wolfpack deals South Alabama expected first loss, and now it gets tough

Posted By on Sat, Sep 17, 2011 at 10:42 PM

CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM/RALEIGH The Wolfpack returns home tonight to a sold-out game it should win, but it’s against a very unusual opponent. Photo courtesy NCSU athleticsState FB Taylor GentryInvading on Military Appreciation Night is South Alabama — or USA, as the folks in Mobile like to say — which comes in with a 2-0 record and has never, ever lost a football game. That of course has a major asterisk on it, as the Jaguars are 19-0 in two-plus seasons of football as they move from having no football in 2008 to full-fledged FBS membership in the Sun Belt Conference. USA...

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Sharing the pie: practical reforms for NCAA sports—Part 2

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Photo by Adam David KissickA Duke player during warms-up during a preseason practice last month. This is Part 2 of an essay in which the author proposes modest, achievable reforms that could address inequities in the perennially troubled system of college athletics. Part 1 is here. 4. Provide an increased stipend in the scholarship sports, access to a savings bond upon graduation and the ability to share in revenues from use of player names and imaging in NCAA marketing, including licensing of images and names in video games. The thrust of this proposal is two-fold. First, college players should have...

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Duke, UNC get challenges while Wolfpack has an easy one

Posted By on Fri, Sep 16, 2011 at 10:09 AM

File photo by Al DragoDuke will need to focus on offense against Boston College Saturday. Here, Brandon Connette scores a touchdown against Richmond two weeks ago. It’s Week 3 of the college football season, and so far the Triangle area’s three ACC teams have had mixed results. Despite all the preseason problems resulting in the firing of former coach Butch Davis and the announcement of the retirement of athletic director Dickie Baddour, everything is going along swimmingly in Chapel Hill. The jury is still a bit out at N.C. State, where Mike Glennon is calling the signals while former quarterback...

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Forget the radical reforms, here are realistic proposals for cleaning up college football (Part 1)

Posted By on Thu, Sep 15, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Photo by Jeremy M. LangeA UNC football player keeps cool during a preseason workout.College sports are not going to be abolished, they are not going to be turned into an Ivy League model and they are not likely anytime soon to be converted into freestanding professional teams. For better or worse, the unique system of big-time sports attached to universities is here to stay. Too many parties (TV networks, advertisers, universities, alums) are invested in the current system and too many people (fans, participants, alums) derive too much pleasure from big-time college sports for revolutionary reform or abolition of the...

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wolfpack falls behind early, can't catch up as Wake jinx continues

Posted By on Sat, Sep 10, 2011 at 10:44 PM

GROVES STADIUM/WINSTON-SALEM N.C. State travels to face its oldest rival today on one beautiful afternoon for football or any other outdoor activity, and it’s going to be the first big test for first-year starting QB Mike Glennon. Photo courtesy NCSU athleticsN.C. State coach Tom O'BrienGlennon struggled through the first half last week against visiting Division I-FCS Liberty before the Wolfpack escaped with a 43-21 win, but that result was expected. Today the opponent is 0-1 Wake Forest, which lost a heartbreaker at Syracuse in its opener nine days ago. State throttled the Deacons 38-3 last season in Raleigh, but the...

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Friday, September 9, 2011

Wolfpack faces ACC opener, Tar Heels get a good test, Duke hopes for a miracle

Posted By on Fri, Sep 9, 2011 at 1:06 AM

File photo by Al DragoDuke quarterback Sean Renfree completed 23 of 33 passes last week against Richmond.It’s Week 2 of the ACC football season, and there are still plenty of questions to be answered for the three local teams. Is UNC’s new starting quarterback Bryn Renner, who completed 22 of 23 passes in the Tar Heels’ season-opening 42-10 romp over FCS member James Madison on Saturday, always going to be that accurate? Well actually he isn’t. The Tar Heels are going to get a little tougher test today at 12:30, when Rutgers (1-0) visits Kenan Stadium. Rutgers is, of course,...

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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Veteran Talbot is more effective than rookie Archer as Columbus takes a 2-0 lead

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 11:26 PM

DBAP/ DURHAM The Durham Bulls have been here plenty of times, making the Governors’ Cup Playoffs in a ridiculous 11 of their 14 International League seasons. Photo courtesy Durham BullsBulls manager Charlie MontoyoBut tonight they’re pretty much facing a must-win situation, as they trail the first-round series with Columbus 1 game to 0 and the rest of the series will be in Columbus. The Bulls, who have won five straight South Division titles, are seeking their fifth straight appearance in the Cup Finals under Charlie Montoyo. Durham has won three Cups, including the National Championship team from 2009. The defending...

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Remembering Big Joe Vasicek and the goal that put the Hurricanes on the map

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 10:54 AM

Wednesday morning, an airplane carrying a Russian professional hockey team crashed into the Volga River outside the city of Yaroslavl just after takeoff. Almost all of the Lokomotiv team—27 players—died in the crash, among them several familiar former NHL players including Czech forward Josef Vasicek, who played six seasons for the Carolina Hurricanes. Big Joe’s name is engraved on the Stanley Cup with the rest of the 2006 Canes. Even though Vasicek was a minor player for the Canes, he was a major part of a crucial moment for the Carolina franchise, a moment that both brought Raleigh onto the...

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Columbus Clippers shut out Durham Bulls, take first game of Governors' Cup playoff series

Posted By on Thu, Sep 8, 2011 at 6:00 AM

DBAP/ DURHAM—Last night's game was set up as a pitchers' duel: Durham's Matt Moore versus Columbus' Zach McAllister. It came close to its billing. Columbus beat Durham, 3-0, behind six excellent innings from McAllister, who was backed by Chad Huffman's solo homer and booming RBI double. The Bulls went hitless after the fifth inning against McAllister and two relievers—and two of the five hits they got up to that point were bunt singles; a third was a chopper past the mound that went about 90 feet. There's no question that McAllister pitched well. He kept his sinking fastball down, mixed...

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Governors' Cup Playoff Series Preview: Durham Bulls vs. Columbus Clippers

Posted By on Tue, Sep 6, 2011 at 11:27 PM

For the fifth straight year, and Charlie Montoyo's fifth as manager, the Durham Bulls have qualified for the International League playoffs. Before we go any further, it's worth taking a moment to appreciate what a rare and remarkable accomplishment that is—especially in the chancy environment of Class AAA baseball. There are those who might argue that, because the Tampa Bay Rays have one of baseball's top farm systems, Montoyo's job is easy. All he has to do is preside over his two-dozen blue-chip prospects and watch the wins pile up. For one thing, it doesn't really work that way—there are...

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mudcats almost pull off a miracle in their penultimate Southern League game

Posted By on Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 10:17 PM

FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats are playing their penultimate game in the Southern League tonight. Photo courtesy Carolina MudcatsMudcats manager David BellThe guests are the Mississippi Braves, the most far-flung team in the league, a club that flew into RDU for the four-game series. The SL’s mandate that the Mudcats go airborne for trips to Alabama and Mississippi was among the reasons Steve Bryant sold his Double-A franchise to an outfit that’s going to make them the Pensacola (Fla.) Blue Wahoos next season. So next season the Mudcats will be in the Carolina League, as the old Kinston Indians...

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Something Borrowed, Something New - Carolina RailHawks bedevil FC Tampa Bay 2-0

Posted By on Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Carolina RailHawksPablo Campos shines in Carolina RailHawks 2-0 win over FC Tampa BayWAKEMED SOCCER PARK / CARY - It has been a pivotal fortnight for the Carolina RailHawks. Going into their August 20th match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, the RailHawks were in the midst of a three-match winless streak and had witnessed their once-formidable lead atop the NASL table shrink to just four points clear of the surging Puerto Rico Islanders. The RailHawks’ win over the Strikers two weeks ago stemmed the dismal tide. A victory at Atlanta last Saturday clinched an important first round bye in next month’s...

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Blue Devils fall in final minutes

Posted By on Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 1:51 AM

Photo by Al DragoJuwan Thompson goes for extra yards. Thompson rushed for 86 yards. WALLACE WADE STADIUM/DURHAM-It’s kick-off weekend for college football, but unfortunately for Duke, the Blue Devils don’t start off on the right foot. Richmond took the 23-21 win tonight, due to simple mistakes from Duke’s offense. This is their third consecutive win over the Blue Devils, following victories in 2006 and 2009. “Bottom line is we were erratic,” said Duke coach David Cutcliffe. “We’re not good enough to play erratic and win.” Richmond took advantage of two Duke turnovers in the first half, giving the Spiders a...

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Defense, special teams save Wolfpack's bacon in romp over Liberty

Posted By on Sun, Sep 4, 2011 at 1:02 AM

CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM/RALEIGH N.C. State enters a new phase in its football program tonight, as it plays its first game without quarterback Russell Wilson in quite a while. Photo courtesy NCSU athleticsN.C. State wide receiver T.J. GrahamWilson, who disagreed with Coach Tom O’Brien on whether he should come to spring practice or continue his pro baseball career before they mutually agreed that he should go play somewhere else, is already making a big splash at Wisconsin. The new Wolfpack QB is not a compact, cat-quick guy but instead a 6-6 Mike Glennon who was a top prospect coming out of high...

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Friday, September 2, 2011

ACC needs to pounce. Let's take Pitt, WVU, and Army and Navy football.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 2, 2011 at 2:42 PM

www.defense.govIf just about every major news organization in the country is right, Texas A&M is going to be a member of the Southeastern Conference within a few days. This whole realignment/expansion mess really has its roots back 20 years ago, when Arkansas left the old Southwest Conference to join the SEC along with South Carolina, which left behind any ideas of rejoining the ACC. That prompted the ACC to grab Florida State, for the big Texas schools in the Southwest to join the old Big Eight and become a Big XII, leading to the eventual creation of Conference USA and...

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