Also in this week’s issue: The 49ers’ winning band of misfits, living the good life with JJ Barea and the death of the slap shot in the NHLPosted: November 17, 2011
You’ve read about our cover story on “The Failure and Shame of Penn State” – supplemented by senior writer Jon Wertheim’s (@jon_wertheim) podcast interview detailing his experience reporting from State College, Pa., last week – and found out who NFL players think is the league’s best receiver on a Hail Mary pass. Here’s what else readers can expect from the Nov. 21 issue, on newsstands now.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS: THE THRILL IS BACK – JIM TROTTER (@SI_JimTrotter)
The 49ers are 8–1 behind the efforts of a collection of misfits and NFL castoffs. Much of that success can be traced to their intense new coach; running back Frank Gore says that in sharp contrast to his predecessors, particularly Mike Nolan, Jim Harbaugh has imbued his team with confidence. Gore tells senior writer Jim Trotter (page 54): “[Nolan] just wanted us to stay in the game instead of saying, Let’s go attack them and see what we can do. It ain’t about them, it’s about us—that’s the attitude you have to have. Coach Harbaugh? That’s how he and his coaches are. Look at his swag. I love it.”
On the Tablets: Senior writer Peter King’s (@SI_PeterKing) “Last Word on the NFL” and his weekly podcast interview, this week’s edition of which features Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.
Also from Sports Illustrated: A new stat to measure individual defense, hometown hero Skylar Diggins, a leap of faith by USC’s gifted center and the fallout from Penn StatePosted: November 10, 2011
In addition to the College Basketball Preview Men’s Top 20 and Women’s Top 10 and this week’s NFL Players Poll, here’s what readers can expect in the Nov. 14 issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands now.
THE CASE FOR THE DEFENSE – LUKE WINN (@lukewinn)
Using methods that statistician Dean Oliver lay out in his 2003 book Basketball on Paper, SI conducted the most comprehensive study of individual defense ever done in college basketball. The defensive rating produced answers the following question: If a player were on the floor for 100 defensive possessions, engaging in his normal rate of plays, how many points would an opposing team score? (page 52)
The 2010–11 defenses for five of this year’s championship contenders were analyzed. The subjects comprised the nation’s most efficient defensive team from ’10 –11 (Florida State); the two preseason title favorites with the majority of their rotations returning (Ohio State and North Carolina); the defending champion (UConn); and, for contrast, an offensive powerhouse undone last season by its struggles on D (Vanderbilt). SI’s adjusted defensive rating is the byproduct of the following statistics:
- Percentage of plays involved with
- Individual stop percentage (per 100 possessions)
- Field goal percentage against
- Percentage of a player’s possessions resulting in a turnover
- Free throw rate (ratio of free throw attempts allowed versus field goal attempts allowed)
On the Tablets: Winn discusses SI’s defensive efficiency formula in a podcast interview.
Also in this week’s Sports Illustrated: the Mad Hatter of Baton Rouge, the evolution of Manny Pacquiao and the changing identity of NHL enforcersPosted: November 3, 2011
You’ve seen this week’s Packers and Cardinals covers, read our picks for the NFL playoffs and midseason awards, learned how food consciousness is revolutionizing sports, reviewed our plan for how paying D-I athletes could work and found out who NFL players think is the league’s funniest trash talker (come on down, Chad Ochocinco). Here’s what else is in the Nov. 7 issue, on newsstands now.
ALABAMA-LSU: WHAT WILL LES MILES DO NEXT? – AUSTIN MURPHY (@si_austinmurphy)
In Saturday’s megamatchup between No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama, SI predicts that the Crimson Tide—behind 100+ yards rushing and a touchdown from Trent Richardson, “the best player on the field”—will win 17–14. But fans watching would do well to expect something memorable from Tigers coach Les Miles (page 100).
For all his eccentricities and penchant for on-field gambles, Miles is one of the top two or three college coaches in the country. In matching up with Nick Saban on Saturday, he’ll be going against one of his peers—not to mention his LSU predecessor. Says Chargers fullback Jacob Hester, who played one year for Saban and three for Miles in Baton Rouge: “Coach Miles got the most out of his players. He just did it in a different way than Coach Saban. He trusted us. I think Les Miles trusts his players more than any coach I’ve ever seen or been around. When he calls your number on a trick play or goes for it on a fourth down, the message he’s sending is, I believe in you.”
On the Tablets: Hotspots on the five most “Milesian” moments during the coach’s tenure at LSU, from his grass-eating episode during last year’s Alabama game to his series of clock management issues.
Also in this week’s Oct. 24 issue: Dan Wheldon in memoriam, Plaxico Burress sounds off on the NFL’s illegal hits, Jaromir Jagr’s return from Siberian exile and the soon-to-be winningest QB in college football historyPosted: October 19, 2011
You’ve seen the two covers for this week’s issue and our World Series prediction as well as details from Gary Smith’s interview with Jerry West, who discussed in great detail the depression that plagued him throughout his Hall of Fame career and most of his life. Here is what else readers will find in this week’s Oct. 24 issue, on newsstands now.
DAN WHELDON: 1978–2011 – LARS ANDERSON (@LarsAndersonSI)
Two-time Indy 500 champ Dan Wheldon’s future seemed bright on Sunday morning, when the 33-year-old signed a contract to race for Andretti Autosport in 2012. Hours later, just 11 laps into the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Wheldon was dead, killed in a 15-car wreck. Series champion Dario Franchitti said afterward, “One minute you’re joking around at driver intros—the next, Dan’s gone. I’m struggling to get it together.” When the day ended with a low-speed, five-lap tribute to Wheldon, IndyCar’s season came to an end—and the sport had lost one of its most popular, most engaging drivers (page 56).
On the Tablets: A slideshow of highlights from Dan Wheldon’s career on the IndyCar circuit.
SCORECARD: LEARNING TO PLAY NICE – DAMON HACK (@si_damonhack)
From a numbers standpoint, the response to the NFL’s Black Sunday—Oct. 17, 2010, when three players were concussed on violent hits—has been effective. The number of fines for illegal hits is down, and no suspensions have been handed out. But the NFL has not completely gotten through to players. To wit (page 15):
- Jets receiver Plaxico Burress: “If you have a chance to knock me out or break my leg, man, knock me out. That’s missing a game or two, not the whole season. As receivers, we know what we signed up for.”
- Bears safety Brandon Meriweather, who has been fined $95,000 for illegal hits since the start of last season: “They teach you growing up that you’ve got to be violent and put the fear of God in people, but when you get to the league that you’ve been dreaming about your whole life, they tell you to change your game 100 percent or get money taken from you. I try lowering my target zone, but if you have a receiver who’s 5′ 8″, it’s still going to be a helmet-to-helmet collision. How do you avoid that when you’re running full speed?”
- Packers linebacker Desmond Bishop, recalling a clear shot he had on Matt Ryan in Week 5: “I didn’t quite know how to hit him. I didn’t want to hit him too high, when it should be natural to just go hit him. I ended up getting the sack, but I didn’t hit him as hard as I wanted to.”
Brad Pitt, the star of the upcoming movie Moneyball, doffs an Oakland A’s hat and graces the cover of this week’s September 26, 2011, issue of Sports Illustrated, on newsstands Wednesday. Pitt joins an exclusive group of non-athletes and non-coaches to be so honored — a list that includes Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale, Stephen Colbert, Bob Hope, Ed Sullivan, Steve McQueen and Arnold Schwarzenegger in addition to former presidents John F. Kennedy, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan (appearances on the 11/26/84 and 2/16/87 covers) and Bill Clinton.
Commenting on his photo shoot with SI photographer Simon Bruty, Pitt says: “I was just happy to do Sports Illustrated. To do something other than the fashion-y things, for something I respect, is much more fun.”
Senior writer Austin Murphy (@si_austinmurphy) spoke at great length with Pitt about getting Moneyball made. Among the topics they discussed:
- Pitt’s background (or lack thereof) in baseball: “It’s shameful how little I know about baseball…. I’m amazed they let me do this movie…. Baseball and I didn’t get along that well. I wrestled one year [in high school]. I dove one year. Everything but baseball.”
- How Pitt acquitted himself to his role as a baseball lifer: “I’m an Oklahoma-Missouri boy, so I’m no stranger to a bit of dip. We start early with that, so really, I was just revisiting my roots.”
- What Pitt was initially drawn to about the story: “I’m a sucker for the underdog story.”
- The end goal of the film: “What we were trying to do is tell an unconventional story in the Trojan horse of a conventional baseball movie.”
- The comparisons Pitt makes to the movie and three of his favorite ’70s films (The French Connection, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, All the President’s Men): “In scripts today, someone has a big epiphany, learns a lesson, then comes out the other side different. In these older films I’m talking about, the beast at the end of the movie was the same beast in the beginning of the movie. What changed was the world around them, by just a couple of degrees. Nothing monumental. I think that’s true about us. We fine‑tune ourselves, but big change is not real.”