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WAC rundown

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The Western Athletic conference took a huge blow last summer when it was announced that the Boise State Broncos would be bolting to the Mountain West Conference.  Then a few months later the Nevada Wolfpack, Fresno State Bulldogs and Hawaii Warriors announced they were following Boise State to the MWC.  WAC commissioner Karl Benson then had to answer the 100 million dollar question: what is next for the WAC? The WAC would end up adding two schools who will be playing their first seasons of FBS football in 2012- the Texas State Bobcats and the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners.  Both schools are no where near the caliber of a Boise State or a Hawaii but are located in talent rich Texas and could develop into good programs down the line.  As for the 2011 season, with Boise State gone, it will be the Warriors, Bulldogs and Wolfpack battling for the conference crown in their last season in the WAC.  Here are my top returning WAC quarterback’s for the 2011 season:

1. Bryant Moniz, Sr, Hawaii, 2010 stats: 361-555 (65%), 5,040 yds, 39 td’s, 15 int’s: Perspective:  Moniz returns as the only quarterback in the WAC that started every game in the 2010 season.  Moniz makes Hawaii the obvious favorite to win the confernce title.  He has the ability to make everyone around him better.  He loses his top two targets in Greg Salas and Kealoha Pilares but has enough solid receivers returning to keep this offensive engine one of the best in the country.  Because of all of this, Moniz is being mentioned as a preseason Heisman candidate and all-american.  Look for Moniz to lead Hawaii to a WAC title and lead the nation in passing once again.

2.  Brian Reader, Sr, Idaho, 2010 stats: 42-71 (59%), 568 yds, 5 td’s, int. Perspective: Reader takes over for Nathan Enderle who had a solid career for the Vandals.  Reader, who saw action in 8 games last season, had a great spring and it has carried over to the fall.  The Idaho fan base is very excited about the 2011 possibilities especially with instate rival Boise State no longer in the WAC.  The Vandals could be a sleeper in the WAC title race this season

3.  Tyler Lantrip, Sr, Nevada, 2010 stats: 8-13 (62%), 155 yds, td. Perspective: Lantrip takes over for Nevada football legend Colin Kaepernick.  Lantrip will have some huge shoes to fill.  Kaepernick was not only a threat with his arm but his legs as well.  Lantrip is more of a pocket passer.  He did well in 5 games he played in last season.  The big question for Lantrip is his experience.  He is a senior but has not played much.  He will have his work cut out for him right away as Nevada has to travel to Oregon, San Jose State, Texas Tech and Boise State to start the season.  The Wolfpack will not play a home game until October 8th.

4. Matt Christian, Sr, New Mexico State, 2010 stats: 114-237 (48%), 1,372 yds, 8 td’s, 2 int’s. Perspective: Christian returns for his senior year after having an injury plagued junior season.  Christian will need to stay healthy and play more consistent if he is to win the starting QB job over the sophomore Andrew Manley.

5. Colby Cameron, Jr, Louisiana Tech, 2010 stats: 54-91 (59%), 461 yds, td, 5 int’s. Perspective: Cameron played sparingly in 4 games last season and struggled.  Head Coach Sonny Dykes believes he will do much better in 2011 as he has taken most of the QB reps in the spring and in the fall.  Look for Cameron to have a breakout 2011 season and put up great numbers in Dykes offense.  La Tech is another team that could surprise and be in the WAC title race.

My predictions:

1. Hawaii

2. Nevada

3. Louisiana Tech

4. Idaho

4. Fresno State

6. Utah State

7. San Jose State

8. New Mexico State

Boxing

25th Annual Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night, A Charity Knockout Event

Albert Alvarez

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Photo Credit: Monica Alvarez

The stars came out last night to give, show support, perform, and to continue to raise money and awareness in hopes of one day find a cure to knockout Parkinson’s disease.

Going back to year number 1, The first ever event was held at the Ritz-Carlton operated on a much smaller scale than today, which is now held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.

At the very first Celebrity Fight Night With the help of Phoenix Suns Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle, and the valley of the sun’s very own Louie Espinoza, Tony Baltazar, and boxing champion Michael Carbajal who by the way fought in the ring with over sized boxing gloves.

The ”Puttin on the Fists at The Ritz” first Celebrity Fight Night scored a knockout win and is STILL punching on through today for the Greatest Of All Time, The late great Muhammad Ali.

Last night I was honored to attend and speak to a few of the stars, one was NFL legendary kicker Nick Lowery, Mr. Lowery now spends most of his time at charitable endeavors and advocating for alternative medicine research and is also a spokesman for Kannalife, Inc to raise awareness for CTE and players safety in hopes of one day having intercellular “helmets,” like Kannalife’s CBD and KLS-13019, is so important to potentially treat the brain.

I asked Lowery what is his favorite Ali memory, and Lowery’s response: ” Taking Ali to the NBA All-Star game one year as we sat behind Jay-Z and Beyonce and watching Beyonce wave to Ali, Beyonce spoke to us, she is the sweetest person. Also taking Ali to the locker rooms and watching Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and all the other all stars turn into children at the sight of seeing their hero the greatest of all time Muhammad Ali walk through the doors, what an experience that was.”

In asking the very same question to R&B Singer Brian McKnight, ”I have so many Ali memories but my favorite was watching Ali knockout George Foreman at home with my dad. The odds were against Ali and Ali being the great fighter that he was he beat the odds and stopped a much younger powerful puncher in Foreman. You know, I am still a big boxing fan today, I enjoy watching Tyson Fury out of the current heavyweights.”

And what did legendary former champion boxer, Micheal Carbajal have to say? ”It’s truly an honor to attend this great event, at the very first one proceeds went to my 9th street boxing gym and now 24 years later it’s still going strong, a great charity”. Mr. Carbajal went on to talk some boxing with me,

Carbajal- ” You see Spence/Garcia?”

Me- ” Yes, it was brutal, what did you think?”

Carbajal- ” Not good for Mikey Garcia at all, but he is still my favorite current boxer, and he beats everybody at 135 pounds if he can make the weight there. Mikey would knockout Lomachenko in 4 rounds at 135.”

Me- ”Wow, you really think that? Both are great technical boxers but I can’t see a 4 round fight between them, so you really think it would only take Mikey 4 rounds to stop Lomachenko?”

Carbajal- ” I KNOW so!”

Special honorees for the evening include fabled American music producer and 27-time Grammy Award-winner Quincy Jones, Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow and Dr. Abraham Lieberman, the medical director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Barrow Neurological Institute and Renee Parsons of the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.

“For 25 years, we’ve treated Celebrity Fight Night audiences to the world’s greatest entertainers and this year will be no different as we welcome Barry Manilow,” said Jimmy Walker, Founder of Celebrity Fight Night. “With the help of our celebrity friends and incredibly generous donors, we are once again excited to raise millions of dollars and make a difference in the lives of those who need our support.”

Individual tickets for Celebrity Fight Night start at $1,500 – $10,000.  To purchase tickets or to get more information on the event, please visit www.celebrityfightnight.org, or call (602) 956-1121.

About Celebrity Fight Night
Celebrity Fight Night has gifted more than $86 million over the past 24 years benefiting the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as several other worthy charities.

The black-tie event features a cocktail reception, silent auction, elegant dinner, and an exciting live auction including one-of-a-kind luxury items and experiences. Celebrity Fight Night Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994 by Jimmy Walker and supports the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as numerous other charities. For more information, visitwww.celebrityfightnight.org.

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Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dead at 23

Anthony DiMoro

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Olympic track cyclist Kelly Catlin, who competed in the 2016 Rio Janeiro Games, was found dead in her California home this past Friday due to an apparent suicide, according to an announcement from her father, according to Reuters.

“There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived,” her father, Mark Catlin said, according to VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”

Catlin, 23, took the silver medal in Rio and was part of the teams who took home the gold in 2016, 2017, and 2018 World Championships.

Catlin had reportedly struggled with mental health in the past and her sister, Christine Catlin, said that Catlin was “a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did, per the Washington Post. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.”

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Tom Brady And Pats Play Record 8th AFC Championship Game, Seek 6th Superbowl

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It’s Championship Sunday and one of the NFL staples remain atop the league. The New England Patriots are appearing in their record 8th AFC title game in hopes of competing for a sixth title.

A season that most organizations would be happy with, was one of challenge for the Patriots. Usually a top tier team, they suffered bad losses to the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. However, in Patriot fashion along a weak AFC East, the Patriots finished 11-5, won a 10th straight conference title and secured a first round bye.

Kansas City will host New England in the AFC Championship game in what is a rematch from week six. That game featured an offensive clinic ,  As reported by CBS Boston, Brady went 24-35 passing for 340 yards and touchdown in that game; Mahomes went 23-36 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns. The AFC Championship could very well play out the same way.

The Chiefs will be a tough out, They won their first home playoff game in 25 years last week against the Colts and are riding one of the most prolific offenses in history behind quarterback whisperer Andy Reid and phenome Patrick Mahomes who is arguably the NFLs best young QB.

In what is a David and Goliath matchup, Brady seems to imply they are the underdog. As he told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson, “I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, cant win games,”.  Will the dynasty continue? Or will Reid and Mahomes hoist the Lombardi?

I’m leaning towards the game plan of Bill Belichick and veteran experience of Tom Brady in this one. I think a Patriot/Saints matchup is in order. Either way, it will undoubtedly be one for the ages.

Game Time: Sunday January 20th at 6:40ET/5:40CT on CBS.

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