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College football schedule superlatives for the 2019 season

The absolute most important thing to understand any time you’re previewing the upcoming college football season, and especially when you’re doing a deeper dive on schedules, is that “ain’t nobody playing anybody.”

It’s a time-honored phrase and one coated in its own vernacular depending on where you reside and what team you live and die with every fall Saturday afternoon. It’s also a phrase that will invariably reach a crescendo come College Football Playoff selection time in December.

Until then, we’ll hand out a few preseason superlatives when it comes to the 2019 college football schedule, some to be proud of and some sure to cause considerable angst. As the Head Ball Coach, aka Steve Spurrier, used to say (quoting his old coach Pepper Rodgers), a coach is only as good as his players and his schedule.

And maybe there’s something to that because the two teams that played for the national championship a year ago — Alabama and Clemson — combined to face just five Power 5 teams that managed more than eight wins during the 2018 regular season. The Crimson Tide and Tigers also combined to produce 16 selections in the 2019 NFL draft, including eight players taken in either the first or second round.

Now, on to our selections:

Toughest overall Power 5 schedule

A handful of schools could make cases, particularly South Carolina, but nothing rises to the level of the gantlet staring Gus Malzahn and Auburn in the face this season. The Tigers face six of the top 12 teams in ESPN’s latest Way-Too-Early preseason rankings, and four of those games are away from home. The Aug. 31 opener is against No. 10 Oregon in Arlington, Texas, followed by true road games against No. 12 Texas A&M on Sept. 21, No. 8 Florida on Oct. 5 and No. 9 LSU on Oct. 26. Of course, the “good news” is that Auburn returns home for its November grind … against No. 3 Georgia on Nov. 16 and No. 2 Alabama on Nov. 30. The proverbial hot seat has become all too familiar for Malzahn. When is it not for the head football coach on the Plains? But with a schedule like this, Malzahn’s seat just got hotter — if that’s possible.

Easiest overall Power 5 schedule

Justin Fuente could use a big season, and Virginia Tech’s schedule looks like it just might cooperate. The only game against an opponent ranked in ESPN’s latest preseason rankings comes on the road against Notre Dame on Nov. 2, but the Hokies have an open date the week before playing the Irish. Moreover, they won’t have to leave the state of Virginia for five of their last seven games. And, oh yeah, they avoid Clemson, NC State and Syracuse from the ACC’s Atlantic Division during the regular season. After winning just six games a year ago, Virginia Tech’s pathway to double-digit wins in 2019 doesn’t look all that unrealistic.

Most interesting schedule

EDITOR’S PICKS

As an FBS independent, scheduling can be tricky for BYU, but the Cougars should be in for a wild ride — one way or the other — in 2019. Not only are they the only team in college football to open the season against four straight Power 5 opponents (UtahTennesseeUSC and Washington), but those four games all come in successive weeks. The caveat is that the Aug. 29 opener against Utah is a Thursday night game. The folks in Provo are going to love the home schedule. In addition to Utah, USC, Washington and Boise Stateall come to LaVell Edwards Stadium.

Toughest open to the season

Stanford plays six straight weeks to open the season before getting a bye, and three of those games are against teams in ESPN’s preseason rankings. The Cardinal open with Northwestern at home on Aug. 31, then face USC and UCF on the road in back-to-back weeks, return home to face Oregon on Sept. 21, play at Oregon State the next week and then come back home to face Washington on Oct. 5.

Toughest close to the season

This was an easy call. Boston College ends the season with four road trips in its last five games, and the only home game in that stretch is against Florida State. The Eagles travel to Clemson on Oct. 26, travel to Syracuse on Nov. 2, face FSU at home Nov. 9, and then after an open date, travel to Notre Dame on Nov. 23 and to Pittsburgh on Nov. 30.

Cushiest open to the season

Ohio State faces Florida Atlantic and Cincinnati at home to open the season, then travels to Indiana and comes back home to face Miami (Ohio). Pretty safe bet that Ryan Day and the Buckeyes will be 4-0 going to Nebraska on Sept. 28.

Cushiest close to the season

Kentucky closes the season with a November that has a distinct Volunteer State flavor to it, and three of the four games are at home. Tennessee on Nov. 9, UT-Martin on Nov. 23 and Louisville on Nov. 30 will all come to Kroger Field. The only away game is against Vanderbilt on Nov. 16. None of UK’s four November foes finished with a winning record a year ago.

Road weary

Take your pick between Texas A&M and Michigan State as to which Power 5 school plays the toughest road schedule in 2019. The Aggies play at Clemson on Sept. 7 and then close the season with road games against Georgia on Nov. 23 and LSU on Nov. 30. Meanwhile, the Spartans play at Northwestern on Sept. 21, at Ohio State on Oct. 5, at Wisconsin on Oct. 12 and at Michigan on Nov. 16.

Home cooking

Does anybody have an easier slate at home this season than Virginia Tech? The Hokies face Old DominionFurmanDukeRhode IslandNorth CarolinaWake Forest and Pitt in Blacksburg. Then again, it’s not like Alabama is overextending itself at home this season, either. The Crimson Tide face New Mexico StateSouthern MissOle Miss, Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU and Western Carolina in Tuscaloosa.

Power 5 shy

The Big Ten gets the “award” for having the most teams not playing a Power 5 opponent or Notre Dame during the nonconference portion of their schedules. Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin all fall into that category.

Power 5 shy on steroids

Arkansas, Ohio State and Tennessee are the only three Power 5 teams in the country not playing any Power 5 opponents or Notre Dame in their nonconference schedules and playing all of their nonconference games in their home stadiums. Kudos to the ACC, though. All 14 ACC teams are playing at least one nonconference game against a Power 5 school or Notre Dame.

Power 5 happy

Boston College is the only Power 5 school playing three nonconference games against a Power 5 opponent or Notre Dame. The Eagles face Kansas at home and Rutgers and Notre Dame on the road.

Owning the SEC

For the second straight season, Clemson has two nonconference games against SEC foes — Texas A&M at home and South Carolina on the road. Dabo Swinney is 13-5 against SEC teams since the start of the 2012 season, which includes five wins over South Carolina, three wins over Auburn, two wins over Alabama and wins over Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M.

Beast of the East

Alabama returns to South Carolina on Sept. 14 for the first time since 2010, when Steve Spurrier, Stephen Garcia, Alshon Jeffery and the Gamecocks ambushed the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide 35-21. Not only was that the last time Alabama lost to an SEC Eastern Division team, but it’s the only time a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team has lost to an SEC opponent by 14 points or more. Alabama is 68-8 against all SEC opponents since that loss.

Bright lights of L.A.

UCLA ventures outside of Los Angeles only twice during the months of October and November, to face Stanford on Oct. 17 and Utah on Nov. 16. The Bruins play at USC on Nov. 23, but that game is at the Coliseum.

Unrivaled

Colorado will open the season with three consecutive games against in-state or traditional rivals — Colorado State in Denver, Nebraska in Boulder and Air Force in Boulder. Thanks to some ace research by Colorado’s David Plati and his staff, there are only 13 other instances in which an FBS school has opened the season against two straight rivals since 1971, when 11-game schedules came into being. Plati and his crew could not find an instance of an FBS school opening with three straight rivals. This will be the first meeting between Colorado and Air Force since 1974.

On the road again

In just under a five-week span from Sept. 21 to Oct. 17, UCLA plays three true Pac-12 road games against Washington State on Sept. 21, Arizona on Sept. 28 and Stanford on Oct. 17, which is preceded by an open date. Mississippi State will also be living out of its suitcase from Sept. 28 through Nov. 2. In those six weeks, the Bulldogs will go on the road to face Auburn on Sept. 28, Tennessee on Oct. 12, Texas A&M on Oct. 26 and Arkansas on Nov. 2. They get an open date on Oct. 5, so four of the five games during that stretch are on the road.

No backing down for Holgo, Houston

As Dana Holgorsen embarks on his first season at Houston, the Cougars are taking on all comers. They open the season by playing at Oklahoma, then face Washington State two weeks later in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium. Three of their first four games are on short weeks, giving them four games in 19 days.

Don’t get caught napping

Which Power 5 teams could get tripped up by Group of 5 teams? Among the possibilities: Oregon faces Nevada on Sept. 7, a week after the Ducks open the season against Auburn. North Carolina faces Appalachian State at home on Sept. 21. Mack Brown started his head-coaching career in Boone. Wake Forest opens the season on Aug. 30 at home against Utah State. Stanford plays at UCF on Sept. 14, and Pitt takes on UCF at home on Sept. 21.

Staying in the sunshine

Miami plays nine of its 12 games in the state of Florida, including the opener against Florida on Aug. 24 in Orlando, a road game at Florida State on Nov. 2 and a road game at Florida International on Nov. 23.

Bye-bye Irish

Seven of Notre Dame’s opponents have a bye before they play the Irish — New MexicoBowling Green, USC, Virginia Tech, Duke, Navy and Boston College. The Irish are 10-1 under Brian Kelly coming off their own bye week. Moreover, Georgia will be coming off a game against Arkansas State and Virginia coming off a game against Old Dominion.

Frequent flier miles

The drive from Stanford University to Spectrum Stadium, where UCF plays its home football games, is 2,880 miles. Fortunately for the Cardinal, they won’t be driving for that Sept. 14 affair. Nonetheless, that’s a mighty long way to go for a football game.

September to remember

There are some intriguing matchups the first three weeks of September, including LSU at Texas, Texas A&M at Clemson, Army at Michigan and Stanford at USC on Sept. 7. On Sept. 14, Stanford plays at UCF, Oklahoma plays at UCLA, and Clemson plays at Syracuse. Then on Sept. 21, Notre Dame travels to Georgia, and Michigan travels to Wisconsin.

SEC November scrimmage weekend

On Nov. 23, Alabama plays Western Carolina, Auburn plays Samford, Kentucky plays UT-Martin, and Vanderbilt plays East Tennessee State. Something says the SEC ticket brokers won’t be raking in the cash that weekend.

In-state tuition

Pitt goes the first five weeks of the season without leaving the state of Pennsylvania, although one of the games is at Penn State on Sept. 14.

Conference game that’s a nonconference game

ACC foes Wake Forest and North Carolina will play Sept. 13, but it won’t count as a conference game. Each team has only three other nonconference games.

Deep in the heart of Texas

Texas plays only one game outside the state (at West Virginia on Oct. 5) until it travels to Iowa State on Nov. 16. The Longhorns have a “road” game against Rice at NRG Stadium in Houston on Sept. 14, the Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma in Dallas on Oct. 12 and a game against TCU in Fort Worth on Oct. 26.

Group of 5 travel

Kent State is hoping to improve on a 2-10 season in Year 2 under Sean Lewis, who at 33 is the youngest FBS head coach. The Golden Flashes’ nonconference road schedule won’t be of much assistance. In their first five games of the season, they play road games at Arizona State on Aug. 29, at Auburn on Sept. 14 and at Wisconsin on Oct. 5.

Toughest early season road trip

Southern Miss faces a tough test early, visiting Mississippi State, Troyand Alabama consecutively. Northern Illinois will also be tested, visiting Utah, Nebraska and Vanderbilt consecutively.

Toughest Group of 5 nonconference schedule

Kent State isn’t taking the easy way out, visiting Arizona State, Auburn and Wisconsin in the first five weeks of the season.

How To Start A Sports Blog

How to start a sports blog — Ever hoped to start a sports blog? Sports are the great American past time. We play sports, we watch sports, and we talk about it – a lot. Some folks even have the desire to write about sports. One might desire to reach a bigger audience than just family and friends with their views on sports, teams and players. The Internet and blogosphere provide that opportunity. Even if you’re not a formally-trained sports writer, you can gain an audience via your own sports blog.

Starting a Sports Blog Can Be Easy

Imagine moving from sharing your sports insights with just your inner circle to having your views read by thousands of people, even millions. And, don’t lose sight of the fact that successful sports blogs can create a revenue stream, and even a significant business, if they attract a big enough audience.

But, how do you begin? How do you start a sports blog?

The best way to learn how to blog is to start a blog. Learn by doing.

I started Sports Feel Good Stories 9 years ago. I wish I would’ve had a guide like this then. Sure, they’re were times when it was frustrating trying to get the site exactly how I wanted it to be (and there still are). But, many more times than that, I’ve been amazed at what can be done with just a few keystrokes because all of the work that’s been done and shared by others. A big thank you to those folks!close

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From free plugins to how-to guides on blogs, the information and resources are available for most anything if you’re not afraid to research, explore and study. The level of sharing and support gives credence to the frequent use of the “blogging community” phrase.

Here’s the Sports Feel Good Stories 7-step beginner’s guide for “How to Start a Sports Blog.” If you’re looking for info on how to start a sports website, you’ve come to the right place.

Disclaimer: For some of the partners we recommend in this guide, Sports Feel Good Stories receives an affiliate commission (something you’ll want to look into when you examine ways to monetize your site). All of the products referenced are ones that we’ve used and endorse.

How to start a sports website overview

Overview

  1. Determine your niche.
  2. Decide on your name.
  3. Plan your first post and give thought to others.
  4. Set up your blog on a hosting service.
  5. Install WordPress and decide on theme.
  6. Complete the theme’s set-up process and add 2 plugins.
  7. Perform some basic optimization of your site.

If you’re already set with your blogging plan, here’s a link to enjoy 50% savings on a Bluehost hosting package.

1. Determine your niche

If you’re reading this post, you might already have an idea as to what you might write about. If you don’t, start exploring online and see where your interests lie. And, if you’re going to write about something on a regular basis, it’s best if it’s something that you’re inherently interested in.  Second best is something you can develop an interest in. It really helps to have a passion for your topic.

Much like advice to new writers, write about what you know. If you’re a high school football coach, it’s probably going to be easier to write about high school football than the NFL.

Narrow your focus to a topic that you can do justice to. It’s hard to out-NY Times the NY Times. If you’re one person writing, you can’t cover everything in the same fashion that a daily newspaper does. Narrow your focus with smaller circles. Maybe you reduce your focus to one sport, geographically, to one team, to one topic or some specialty that sets you apart from other sites. An author’s first effort shouldn’t be a 26-book set of Encyclopedias. Bite off a manageable chunk that you’re really interested in, but that still has room to grow.

When you’ve determined a niche that you really like, complete a competitive assessment. Google and other search engines provide the tool to do that. Do some searches on words that describe your niche and see what other sports sites are out there. Maybe you’ll find someone doing exactly what you were planning for your sports blog. Determine how your sports blog will be different from the competitive set.

2. Decide on your new site’s name

If you haven’t searched for a URL lately, you should know that it can be very difficult to find the perfect domain name for your sports blog. With a billion websites out there, and more URL’s than that gobbled up, it’s easy to understand why.  Many well known names and phrases are gone. For that reason, try to come up with a lot of ideas, and you may need to be flexible. You might not get your first choice for your sports blog.  In fact, you might not get one of your top 10 choices. Be creative.

Some advice for your domain name choice

  • Go with a .com name – it’s the standard. Other endings like .net and .us present communication challenges because people are so used to .com names.
  • Avoid dashes/hyphens in your url.
  • Obviousness is good.  When people see your domain name, do they understand what the blog is about?
  • Short URL’s are highly valued. In addition to be easier to remember, as webmaster, you’ll enjoy all of the strokes saved with a shorter name. (Ok, “do what I say, not what I do,” – www.sportsfeelgoodstories.com)
  • How does the URL look written down without spaces like you’ll see it? Sometimes different word combinations create awkward new words or interpretations, e.g. Toms Hitters. Bounce your name off a few people and see what they think.
  • Try to avoid words that have different spellings, e.g., principle and principal to avoid confusion.
  • Is the name memorable?  How does it sound?

To check to see if your domain names are available, go to Bluehost and enter your options into their new domain checker.

domain name at bluehost image

3. Plan your first post and give thought to others

It’s a good idea to begin thinking of an editorial calendar. Plan how frequently you’re going to try to post a blog entry. In the early going especially, it helps to have frequent entries as you build up to a critical mass of content and cultivate an audience.

The general rule of thumb is that each entry should be a minimum of 300 words. Longer entries are great. But, sometimes you may have exceptions.  That’s fine. Also, think about what visuals and videos you might use. Learn how to embed a YouTube video – it’s pretty easy. Do a Google search on it if you don’t know how.

4. Set up your blog on a hosting service

Hosting is the rent you pay for the space your sports blog takes up on a server.

By setting up your sports blog on a hosting service, you pay a small monthly fee, but you have ownership of your domain and more control over your blog than if you go the “Free” route. Free sites are fine depending on your purpose, but there are some restrictions that limit the growth of your site and the monetizing possibilities. By self hosting, you are able to generate advertising revenue with many different options.

Note, we’ll be suggesting you use WordPress.org which can be loaded on to your hosted site free of charge. IMPORTANT:  WordPress.org is not to be confused with WordPress.com – which has a free offering.  Self hosting is the way to go and there are lots of options. The hosting site that we use on five of our sites, and highly recommend is Bluehost.

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Because of the number of folks we’re able to send to Bluehost, we’re able to offer 50% off or just $2.95 per month for the basic hosting package. Read all the details at Bluehost.

Why Bluehost? Longevity (they’re not going to fold overnight), high level of service, dependability and great prices!

Bluehost: Our Recommendation for Hosting

Bluehost offers different plans to accommodate various needs. Each package comes with a free domain name.  It’s easiest to buy your domain name where you plan on hosting.  Otherwise, you have to transfer your domain name to the host site.

As a beginning blogger, it’s probably best to go with the Starter Plan at Bluehost, which is the cheapest. Please note that your price will go up after the first year, but Bluehost’s pricing is still very good.  Most importantly, they have excellent service. After extensive research, Sports Feel Good Stories decided on Bluehost when we decided to create a blog. We have 5 different blogs hosted at Bluehost.

Select Hosting Plans image

As you’re making your hosting purchase with Bluehost, you’ll encounter this screen. You pay $19.99 per year more if you don’t want your name and number on the domain registry which is published online. I don’t usually pay for this additional convenience, but it’s up to you.

You’ll follow Bluehost instructions that are straightforward.

4 Acct Information screenshot

First, your account information,

Then Payment Information,

5 Payment Information screenshot

Then, choose a Password – make it longer (upper case, lower case and specialty characters), not obvious, but the last 4 digits will be used by Bluehost when you call them – so make the last 4 digits very memorable.

6 Password screenshot

When your password is accepted, you’ll see this,

8 Login screenshot

5. Install WordPress and decide on a theme

What Microsoft Word is to word processing software, WordPress is to blogs. It’s easy to use and it’s great for SEO purposes.

UPDATE: Bluehost has taken the guess work out of installing WordPress. They started the Bluerock experience back in August 2017. Upon creating a new hosting account, WordPress is now automatically installed for the customer by default.

After processing, you’ll be given an opportunity to select “Advanced Options.” Do so. Name your site, e.g. Sports Feel Good Stories, and then select your admin username and password for WordPress. Write these down and label them accordingly. Whenever you log into WordPress to access your site, you’ll need these.

You can pick a Theme from Bluehost’s offerings or select your favorite from all of the options on the Internet. Your theme selection is pretty important as you’ll be spending some time building pages and posts within the selected theme’s structure. Do some research on the types of themes you like, and think thru what you’re trying to accomplish with your blog.

If you go the Bluehost route, here’s what you’ll see:

9 Pick Theme screenshot

Logging into your site

With your successful installation, you can now go and log into your site.

10 WP Login screenshot

From here, you’ll see the WordPress dashboard interface — please note the navigational menu running vertically down the left-hand side of the page (This will become very familiar to you as you build your blog),

11 WP Dashboard screenshot

From here, you’ll launch your site (click the blue button),

12 Tools and Site Launch screenshot

Fill in your site name and description,

12 Website name and description screenshot

After your initial set-up, it’s generally easier to go directly to your site and add “/wp-admin” to the tail end of the url, to log in.

Go to:  www.(your blog name)/wp-admin. Log in with your WordPress username and WordPress password. You’ll go into the WordPress interface for your site. In the upper left hand corner of your page, you should see your site’s name. By placing the mouse over the name, you should see “Visit Site.” Click on “Visit Site” to see what your site looks like at the moment.

Or, you can always access your blog via the Bluerock CPanel interface. Here’s what that looks like,

13 Bluerock Cpanel screenshot

If you haven’t added a Bluehost provided theme, you can add your own. Go to the WordPress Interface dashboard, and down the left side find: Appearance > Themes > and click add new theme.

Designers, art directors and programmers work hard to put together solutions that feature broad functionality and look great. Thought goes into typography, location of visuals (above-the-fold or below), etc. Instead of starting from scratch and building up, get a jumpstart with a great theme. WordPress offers some free themes, but we highly recommend the Genesis Framework and StudioPress themes.

With so many folks accessing the Internet from their smart phones, it makes sense to pick a theme that is mobile responsive. At this Genesis Framework site, you can review the themes available by theme category, e.g. photography, business, etc., and by whether they’re mobile responsive or not. We highly recommend you use the middle filter to select “Mobile Responsive.”

mobile responsive filter

WordPress Themes for your Site

Sports Feel Good Stories has used the Lifestyle Pro theme in the past.  Themes range in price from about $59.95 to $99.95.  I consider myself a frugal blogger. But, this was definitely money well spent. You’ll probably want to get the Genesis Framework parent theme ($59.95) and a child theme of your choice ($59.99 – $99.99). There’s also a package deal where you have access to all of their own themes.

Look hard at the different themes from a structure standpoint including number of visuals per page, positioning, size of visuals, etc. What will work best for what you have in mind for your sports blog? When you purchase from StudioPress, you’ll like get both the Genesis (parent theme) and a child theme, e.g., Lifestyle Pro. You’ll upload both of these to your site from the Appearance >> Theme section of the vertical menu on your WordPress control panel.

Theme installation on WordPress

6. Complete the theme’s setup process

Each StudioPress theme comes with set-up instructions.  Here’s one example for LifeStyle Pro  Try to follow these very closely. If you run into challenges, use the forum.  If you have questions, it’s likely that others have too, and answers have already been documented. And, if that fails, use the Google search engine to try and find answers. And if that fails, submit a ticket and wait for a response.

With some patience and critical thinking, getting your theme up and running is very achievable. Remember that for just about every function you’d like for your website to perform, there’s probably a solution for you. The solution might be built into the theme or available via a WordPress plugin. Plugins are usually free of charge. Developers will ask for donations to support their efforts.

Take advantage of Free Plugins

Let’s say, you don’t want your site to be seen while you’re working on it.  The solution:  a “maintenance mode” plugin. Go to your plugin section on the WordPress control panel and click on Plugins>>New. Do a search for Maintenance Mode.  Review options and select one that you like. Install, activate and go to the settings of the plugin. One potentially tricky thing about plugins:  the settings can show up all over the place. Sometimes you can access via the plugin area, while other times they’re only accessible via the verical WordPress menu – frequently under settings (but not always).  You’ll have to look around.

Another plugin that you’ll want to add right away is a “Contact Us” plugin.  Same process, go to Plugins>>New and do a search on “Contact Us.” Before doing that, you might want to do a Google search on “Contact Us” plugins reviews to discover some recommended plugins. This part of creating your sports blog can take some time. When your not making good progress, take a break and then come back to your work. Remember, there’s a lot of folks who have gone through the same issues and challenges. It’s doable.

7. Perform some basic optimization on your site when you start a sports blog

After completing the first 6 steps of “How to Start a Sports Blog,” there are 3 things you should do right away so that your site can be easily found on the Internet.

a.) Install the plugin:  WordPress SEO by Yoast. It’s free. This is one of the most valuable plugins I’ve come across. When you have a chunk of time, dive into the SEO process early in your blogging venture. It will help you.

b.) Fill in your homepage title tag and meta description. It’s free.

c.) Register your site with GoogleYahoo and Bing.  It’s free.

How to Build a Sports Site – Ongoing Work

SEO is an ongoing process and there are many books and sites that cover the topic. Don’t underestimate its importance when you start a sports blog. Google folks and the others who run search engines are ultimately trying to make the Internet an effective tool. Over the long haul, remember quality content is what will set your site apart from others. If someone tries to sell you on something that just doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Use your good judgement.

Folks like to read websites that have great content, are updated regularly, and that are organized effective. Plan on using your H1 – H6 tags. A general rule of thumb: use one H1 per page and multiple H2s and H3s based on your content topics and length. Don’t force them.

The SEMRUSH Tool

One particularly effective tool that we use is the SEMRUSH tool. With SEMRUSH, you’ll be able to:

  1. See what keywords are driving your competitors’ traffic.
  2. Identify great keywords on both a number of searches per month basis and on how difficult it is to compete for a particular keyword basis.
  3. The tool also helps you identify problems with your site that are preventing pages from ranking high.

You need a strong tool like SEMRUSH if you’re going to be serious about search engine optimization (SEO). Click on the visual “try it now for free.” Before signing up, I was a little reluctant because of the cash outlay. But, it’s been one of my best investments in my website.

Understanding Keywords

SEMrush

Early in the process, gain an understanding of what keywords are all about and how to write a headline that’s interesting and uses keywords effectively. This will help. Your Yoast SEO tool will help tremendously. Over time, you’ll want to optimize your pages and posts as you add them.

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Blogging Mistakes to Avoid When building your sports blog

  1. Using free hosting sites like WordPress.com — If you ever have hopes of selling products and making ad revenue from your site, you’re going to want to own your site. You can do that with WordPress.org (note the .org).
  2. Choosing too broad of a subject matter — Better to select a niche and serve it well than to try to cover all sports all of the time.
  3. Spending too little time on crafting your post headlines — One of the most important things about your post is your headline. Spend time and get it right. Consider your headline’s attention grabbing potential, consider the SEO ramifications and choose wisely. “How to Start a Sports Blog” was chosen over “How to Start a Sports Website” because more people search for How to Start a Sports Blog.
  4. Not letting your personality shine — Finding your voice is important in writing. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Open up to your readers where you can.
  5. Trying to design your own logo — Sometimes things are better left to professionals. Logo designs are one of them. Spend a few dollars and make it respectable.
  6. Not studying search engine optimization — Don’t reinvent the wheel. Learn what works and what doesn’t. SEO is key in building an audience.
  7. Not being opportunistic — Look for ways to stand out from the crowd on content, partnerships, approach, graphics, etc.

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How to Start a Sports Website Video

Recap

So, there you have it: How to Start a Sports Blog. You now have your blank slate. Go forth and write. Build an audience. Tell it like it is. Start a sports blog with style. Start a sports blog that lasts. Make a difference! If you go through this process of “How to Start a Sports Blog,” we’d love to hear from you. If you have any suggestions for improving “How to Start a Sports Blog,” please let us know. Thanks.

Further Reading

Check out “Lessons Learned from 10 Years of Blogging.” This is a great feature for both folks consider whether to start publishing a site or for those who are current publishers.

Blog learnings image

–Mike O’Halloran, founder of Sports Feel Good Stories.  Check out the Sports Feel Good Stories Store for offseason workout plans for baseball, basketball, football, softball and fitness, coaching plans for baseball, basketball, soccer and softball and award certificate makers.

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Where Football Players Call Home

auburn

An update to this post and a post on college basektball are now available.

Had they won the BCS college football national championship this year, Auburn would have represented the eighth straight champion from the SEC and fifth straight champion from Alabama. Though Auburn lost the game, the national title didn’t travel far: Florida State is only three hours from Auburn and five from the University of Alabama.

The dominance of that part of the country in college football raises an interesting question: Is the SEC so good because it recruits the best players from across the nation, or because players from the south tend to be better? In short, where do college football players come from?

To help explore these questions, the interactive map below shows where all of today’s 25,000 Division-I college football players call home, according to ESPN. The map shows how players’ hometowns differ by conference, team, and position.

Click on the map to see the interactive visualization

map

The map reveals a few interesting things:

  1. Conferences tend to focus heavily on recruiting locally. Only the area around Los Angeles is well-represented in nearly every conference.
  2. The largest number of players come from LA, New York, South Florida, and Houston. Relative to the number of college-aged males in the region, however, the south produces the most players.
  3. South Florida produces a lot of football players—except kickers and punters.

While conferences tend to be local, it’s possible that some teams within conferences have better reach than others. To approximate how well programs recruit beyond their home state, I calculated a rough measure of geographic diversity, based on how many states are represented on each team and how many players come from each state. For example, a team with 50 players from one state would have the lowest diversity score, while a state with one player from each of the 50 states would have the highest. The most and least diverse programs, as well as a few notable teams, are show below.

diversity

Auburn and Alabama are somewhat more diverse than average, suggesting they are able to recruit broadly. However, there’s no clear trend among the best teams. The least diverse football programs are typically small regional teams, while—perhaps surprisingly—the most diverse teams are not national powers but schools that likely to attract players for reasons beyond the football field. Notably, Texas—traditionally a top-tier team and a large national program—rarely recruits outside of Texas.

But if geographic diversity doesn’t correlate team success, what should teams do? My recommendation: Recruit exclusively from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Broward County, Florida.

Data

Information on players’ hometowns was provided by ESPN. Hometowns were matched to counties using the Google Maps API. County population data was provided by the U.S. Census. I used SQL to do the analysis. All scripts, queries, visualization code, and data is provided in this GitHub folder.

15 life lessons from football that shouldn’t be overlooked

By Mike McCann | Posted 4/2/2018

While I had my share of injuries in a decade of playing football, nearly all came during my college years, when the speed and intensity ticked up quite a few notches.

And I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything in the world.

I played football from the time I was 12 years old until I was 22. I earned a full scholarship to play safety at Charleston Southern University, and was fortunate enough to have my education – a bachelor’s degree and the better part of an MBA – paid for because of my physical abilities.

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Are you the parent of a youth, middle school or high school football player who’s looking for more tips or resources? Check out our Parent Guide, Parents 101 course, nutritious recipes and more.

The lessons I learned from football are priceless. They’ve helped me in my post-football career (yes, there’s life after football). I learned how to tackle people and catch a leather ball, but more importantly, how to lead others and the value of practice. I learned life skills that many of my peers are still trying to figure out at 30 years old.

I was given an unfair advantage because of the time I spent playing football. Not only did I have a support group of peers who looked out for me, I was blessed with a number of mentors who cared about me and wanted me to succeed.

The media endlessly talks about the risks of football and the danger of collisions. What’s often overlooked are the benefits that come from the game. The life lessons that young men learn while they play it are priceless.

Here are 15 things football taught me that I use every day:

1. How to compete: There are two types of competition: competition with others, and yourself. Football teaches both. When you face an opponent, you have to study film (research) and think critically about how to beat them (game theory), come up with a game plan (planning), and make that plan come to life (execution).

Individually, you must improve your body to become a better player. If you don’t learn to compete with yourself and improve every day, you’ll be the weakest link in the chain. That in itself is pressure enough to improve.

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2. How to be disciplined:From the schemes our coaches drew up, to early-morning workouts, to the focus required to keep my grades above a certain level, I needed discipline for every aspect of the sport. By the time I finished football, I had no choice but to understand discipline and enforce it throughout the rest of my life.

3. How to work (really) hard:99.9 percent of resumes say “hard-working” somewhere on them. Think about your workplace. Are 99.9 percent of your coworkers hard-working? Probably not. This isn’t to say sports are the only way to learn hard work, but it’s a great start. In football, you can earn a name for yourself by outworking your teammates. It’s an unfair advantage that’s accessible to everyone by changing attitude.

4. How to lead:Leadership is a billion-dollar industry. Managers pay for leadership training, and they pay to learn how to lead themselves. Coaches lead teams, but only to a certain extent. Go to any high school football stadium on a Friday night, and you’ll see more than a few leaders who encourage their teammates when the score isn’t in their favor. Leadership is learned in many ways, and in football, it’s learned early.

5. How to follow: With the apparent lack of respect for others we see in the news, this is extremely important. Before you can lead, you have to know how to follow. Study how other leaders do it, how they inspire others and motivate the people around them, and when to stand up for something and when to let the coach do their job. Leadership is rare, but everyone needs to know how and when to follow.

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6. How to be accountable:Individuals don’t win football games. Teams do. To be on a team, you must learn to be accountable to the people around you. We had a “one fail, all fail” policy on one of my teams. If one person was late, the whole defense was punished. In life, if you don’t carry your weight, your whole organization can potentially be punished.

7. How to push others: During fall conditioning, when I was exhausted and wanted to collapse, I figured out how to get through the discomfort. I turned my focus to others and encouraged them. Americans spend billions each year on self-help books, seminars and courses. People search for something or someone to help motivate them. Through sport, we can mold future generations to know how to help each other.

8. The value of practice: Football requires practice. We lift weights, watch film, run sprints and practice until our legs wobble. And because of that practice, we improve. Many people have goals in life but don’t know how to reach them. They search for quick answers on the internet and try to avoid the part where they pay their dues. Football taught me how to put in the time and learn to improve skills incrementally.

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9. How to sacrifice:I didn’t have a typical college experience. Many of my mornings started at 4:55 a.m., and I was pouring sweat before regular students rolled out of bed. In high school, I sacrificed extra time with friends and family because I wanted to get to the next level, and that goal required extra workouts. I learned to sacrifice that “normal” experience for something great, a chance to play college football. Just 6.5 percent of high school football players go on to play in college, and I was one of them. That honor was bestowed on me because I was willing to sacrifice.

10. How to accomplish something bigger: When players showed up for preseason camp in August, we had to leave our egos at home. In order to accomplish something larger than ourselves, we had to submit to the goals of the team. If every player had a different agenda, we would’ve gone all different directions. But when we had one mindset, we accomplished tremendous feats.

11. To control what I can control: Injuries are a part of sports. Football is no exception. Through my injuries, I realized I could handle adversity one of three ways: I could be bitter, I could quit or I could make the best of my situation. I saw some players quit after injuries, most of whom regretted their decision. I saw others carry a negative attitude wherever they went, like a ball and chain slowing them down. And then I saw an upperclassman play his senior year with a broken hand and enjoy every minute of it. He told me, “There’s no use in complaining. It won’t change my situation. All I can do is strap up and play the next play.” That stuck.

12. How to stand for something: By working out, running sprints and watching film, we become committed to our team. We take pride in what the decal on our helmet stands for. We care about the people we sweat with, and we listen to the coaches who lead us. By playing football, we learn what it means to make an unwavering commitment to something.

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13. There are no shortcuts: As part of a growing program, we had a new strength coach each year. Each brought his own style and workout preferences. As budgets improved, the school paid more qualified coaches. Each brought better technique and more effective training. One thing remained: If we didn’t hit the weight room and work hard during the offseason, we wouldn’t win games. There are better ways of doing things, but there are no shortcuts.

14. How to finish something you start: I was benched for the first time in my career during my junior year. I was distraught and angry, but didn’t allow myself to be beat by those feelings. I knew being benched was merely an obstacle I had to overcome – no different than an opponent taking the lead in the fourth quarter. I recommitted myself to my passion and started every game as a senior while being elected captain by my peers.

15. How to be selfless: Every player has their own unique talents. Some are blessed with speed, some agility, others with strength. The list goes on. I was a smart player who knew how to play multiple positions. Because of this, I was able to move around when other players were injured. I played three different positions during the course of my career because that’s where my team needed me. Had I chosen to be selfish, I could’ve hurt the team.

Mike McCann played football at Charleston Southern University from 2004-08. He published a book about his time at CSU, the lessons he learned and the incredible true story of the 2005 team. Learn more about it at Believe EG21: Play Like There Is No Tomorrow.” Mike is an author, entrepreneur, football coach and philanthropist who resides in Charleston, South Carolina. 

CFC Prospect Game Review

Tracking Football recently partnered with CanadaFootballChat.com for the first annual CFC Canada Football Prospect game. Athletes across the country competed in showcase and tryout events throughout the spring where they were tested in the 40 yard dash, shuttle, vertical jump and football specific drills. The event series culminated with a TSN televised all-star game in Ottawa, ON on June 1st, which Tracking Football staff members attended.

Here’s an overview of some of the prospects referred by CFC staff for their standout performance in the Prospect Game, as well as several players with intriguing athletic potential according to Tracking Football’s proprietary scores. These players along with hundreds of other Canadian prospect are now available in our premium high school database.

Jhavoun Blake – ATH – 2020 – 6’2″ / 205lbs

  • 3.0/5.0 PAI
    • 42’03” 6kg Shot Put
  • 4.0/5.0 Combine Score
    • 4.63 40 yard dash (CFC verified)
  • 4 tackles, 1 fumble recovery

Albert Reese IV – OT – 2020 – 6’7″ / 274lbs

  • 3.6/5.0 Combine Score
    • 4.98 Shuttle (CFC verified)
    • 24.9 Vertical (CFC verified)
  • Prospect Game Team MVP

Malcolm Bell – CB – 2020 – 6’1″ / 168lbs

  • 4.2/5.0 Combine Score
  • 4 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 PBU
  • 2 NCAA D1 offers

Tyson Krushelniski – LB – 2020 – 6’1″ / 215lbs

  • 1.7/5.0 PAI Score
    • 39’06” Shot Put, 110’00” Discus
  • 4.0/5.0 Combine Score
    • 31.1 Vertical (CFC verified)
    • 4.30 Shuttle (CFC verified)
  • Prospect Game Team MVP
  • 2 TFL, 1 sack, 1 interception

Nolan Ulm – WR – 2020 – 6’2″ / 191lbs

  • 2.7/5.0 PAI Score
    • 23.09 200m
    • 51.35 400m
  • 4.8/5.0 Combine Score
    • 4.24 Shuttle (CFC verified)
  • 5 receptions for 39 yards

Cody McMahon – DE – 2020 – 6’3″ / 220lbs

  • 2.4/5.0 Combine Score
    • 5.26 40 yard dash (CFC verified)
  • Prospect Game Team MVP
  • 8 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack

Nathan Carabatsakis – 2020 – LB – 6’4″ / 225lbs

  • 2.8/5.0 Combine Score
    • 5.06 40 yard dash (CFC verified)
    • 4.36 shuttle (CFC verified)
  • Prospect Game Team MVP
  • 16 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 fumble recovery

Logan Buchwitz – TE – 2021 – 6’4″ / 212lbs

  • TBD
  • 2 receptions for 20 yards, 1 TD

Sony Bermudez-Chavez – 2020 – WR – 5’9″ / 150lbs

  • 2.2/5.0 Combine Score
    • 4.27 Shuttle (CFC verified)
    • 27.1 Vertical (CFC verified)
  • Prospect Game Team MVP
  • 7 receptions for 114 yards, 3 TD
  • 3 attempts 39 yards

Ryker Frank – RB – 2020 – 5’10” / 175lbs

  • 3.8/5.0 Combine
    • 4.83 40 yard dash (CFC verified)
    • 4.12 Shuttle (CFC verified)
    • 32.3 Vertical (CFC verified)
  • Prospect Game Team MVP
  • 6 attempts 61 yards, 1 TD

Matthew Morin – RB – 2020 – 5’8″ / 165lbs

  • 2.8/5.0 Combine Score
    • 4.16 Shuttle (CFC verified)
    • 31.7 Vertical (CFC verified)
  • Prospect GameTeam MVP
  • 15 attempts for 61 yards, 2 TD

Samuel Tremblay – QB – 2021 – 6’2″ / 150lbs

  • 4.59 Shuttle (CFC verified)
  • Team MVP
  • 9 for 15, 91 yards, 1 TD

Brad Kemayou – DB – 2020 – 6’0″ / 185lbs

  • 2.6/5.0 PAI
  • 4.6/5.0 Combine
    • 4.59 40 yard dash (CFC verified)
    • 38.4 Vertical (CFC verified)
    • 4.36 Shuttle (CFC verified)
  • 5 tackles, 1 INT

Taran Birdi – CB – 2020 – 6’0″ / 165lbs

  • 1.1/5.0 PAI Score
  • 4.2/5.0 Combine Score
  • 3 tackles, 1 interception, 1 PBU

Callum Wither – QB – 2022 – 6’2″ / 175

  • 2.8/5.0 Combine Score
    • 4.99 40 yard dash (CFC verified)
    • 29.0 Vertical (CFC verified)
  • 3 NCAA D1 offers

Rhyland Kelly – CB – 2021 – 6’1″ / 169lbs

  • 3.4/5.0 Combine Score
    • 33.9 Vertical (CFC verified)
    • 4.47 Shuttle (CFC verified)
  • 7 tackles, 1 interception

Jerel Brown – WR – 2020 – 6’2″ / 171lbs

  • 2.4/5.0 Combine Score
    • 29.1 Vertical (CFC verified)
  • 4 receptions for 83 yards

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