Western RaceSaver Sprint Series Champion Blake Robertson. (Photo by Tom Macht, www.photofinishphotos.com)VISALIA, Calif. – Blake Robertson came as close to IMCA EMI RaceSaver Sprint Car perfection as you can get in 2016.Robertson won 14 of his 15 Western RaceSaver Sprint Series starts this season, scooping up Allstar Performance California State honors in addition to the tour title.“We’ve never had a season like this,” he acknowledged. “When we needed luck it fell our way. The stars were getting in line at the Sprint Nationals before we ran out of time, but we had a very blessed season.”Robertson racked up all those wins at Thunderbowl Speedway, Bakersfield Speedway, Keller Auto Speedway at Kings Fairground and Santa Maria Raceway.The one race he didn’t win was the second of the season, when he tangled with a lapped car while running second at Kings and ended in 11th.The hands-on owner of BR Motorsports, a mail order parts supplier of parts for Sprint Cars and Midgets, and King Racing Products, which manufactures those parts, Robertson is from Visalia and began racing Sprint Cars more than 20 years ago.Always a fan and a regular at the track to cheer on his customers, he returned to the sport as a driver last season after a seven-year absence.He was runner-up in the Sprint Nationals main event and third in the Jake Ita Memorial Race of Champions at Eagle Raceway in September.“I don’t have a favorite. I like going to different tracks,” he said. “I really liked the banking at Eagle. You can be fast on the bottom and you can be fast on the top.”Starts: 15Wins: 14Additional Top Fives: 0HIS CREW: Father Brock, father-in-law Kyle Hartman, wife Kasey and children Kameron, Sara, Brock and Ally. HIS SPONSORS: Keller Auto Center of Hanford; and BR Motorsports and King Racing Products, both of Visalia.
Do it for the seniors” is a common theme in locker rooms, but never has it been more relevant than this weekend. If USC doesn’t beat UCLA on Saturday, the seniors on the team will graduate having never won a game against their crosstown rivals. For a school that prides itself on being a national football powerhouse, that can’t happen.“Do it for Helton” has been a driving force for the team since the interim head coach took over, and after last week’s loss to Oregon, a loss to UCLA would just about ensure that Helton is not the head coach next year. Helton has been coaching for his job all season, and has managed to keep his team in contention for a Pac-12 South title, and his season now comes down to one game.It’s merely a coincidence that the game deciding the Pac-12 South has come down to the annual rivalry game against UCLA. That game is the most anticipated every season, especially in recent years as a result of UCLA’s success. Though beating the Bruins used to be routine, the Trojans haven’t won the rivalry game in three years. It’s important every season, as every win counts, but the Trojans’ entire season and the future of Helton is riding on this game.The two losses the Trojans have suffered under Helton have been to ranked teams, with Notre Dame currently coming in at No. 4 with its only loss of the season coming from No. 1 Clemson. Last weekend’s loss at Oregon was disappointing, but Oregon is better than its 8-3 record, as quarterback Vernon Adams missed time due to injury, but the Ducks have looked unstoppable since his return.The expectations are so high at USC that two losses, even if they are at the hands of ranked teams, makes it hard to make a case for the head coaching job. That being said, it’s also hard to argue with a Pac-12 South title. And if Helton is able to beat the Pac-12 North champion and earn a Rose Bowl berth, it’d be hard to overlook him.It’s also an important game for redshirt senior Cody Kessler. Kessler has lost to former UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley the past two seasons but will now face true freshman Josh Rosen. Kessler began the season as a Heisman candidate but has not played to his potential this year. At the end of the day, though, all of that can be forgiven with a win over UCLA. I think in a way, Kessler’s legacy is on the line. It will be the final home game of his USC career, and the way he plays against a true freshman will be the way his career is remembered.The most important thing about this game is that it determines the Pac-12 South champion. But for many Trojans — Kessler, Helton and the seniors — it is so much more than that. Legacies will be cemented and futures determined.
Ghana midfielder Sulley Muntari has revealed his AC Milan teammate Kevin-Prince Boateng is getting closer to rescinding his decision to quit the Black Stars.Muntari also disclosed that the Germany-born player consistently talks about the national team, showing that he still loves the national team despite quitting the Black Stars about two years ago.The 26-year-old stunned the world with his decision to retire from the Ghana national team in 2011 just over one year after securing a nationality switch to play for the country of his father.Boateng’s decision was even more startling especially after excelling with the Black Stars at the 2010 World Cup which helped him to secured a bumper cash move to the Italian Serie A giants AC Milan.Despite quitting the national team, the ex-Germany youth international consistently sent goodwill messages to the Black Stars team during the 2013 Nations Cup.These messages, usually posted on the Milan star’s Twitter page, is seen by many as overtures towards his return to the Black Stars. The German-born’s club teammate, Muntari with whom he played together with during their days at Portsmouth now hints at Boateng’s return.“Prince is a cool guy, he is a good guy. He was having some little problems that is why he decided to stay apart,” he told MTNFootball.com.“But he always talks about the national team so hopefully one day he will change his mind and come because definitely we need him here.”Muntari is one of the star names expected to lineup for the Black Stars when they take on Sudan in a crucial 2014 World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
Some major college athletic programs are football schools. Others are basketball schools. A select few, however, are built for success in both sports.When looking at the current men’s coaches from NCAA Division I FBS and hoops, Sporting News thought it a question worth asking: Which universities boast the most impressive and accomplished coaching combinations? Sparty has enjoyed a party with these two guys, with Dantonio bringing the big bowls and Izzo delivering excellence that includes a natty and eight Final Fours.1. North Carolina: Mack Brown and Roy WilliamsCombined career record: 1,109-351-1 (.759)Roy is 68. Mack is 67. That’s 135 years combined to give us the other double natty combination on this list. Brown led Texas to ultimate glory in 2005 before returning to the Tar Heels. Williams has three titles and nine Final Fours at his alma mater. They are two venerable Southern gentlemen worthy of unparalleled respect — the kings of Chapel Hill. MORE: College football preseason rankings, All-Americans and moreTaking into consideration the overall quality of leadership — including past successes and future upsides — SN counts down the top 20 coaching duos in college sports:20. Louisville: Scott Satterfield and Chris MackCombined career record: 282-127 (.689)Satterfield and Mack are a rising, respected duo to watch. Satterfield went 47-16 at App State while Mack led Louisville back to the NCAA Tournament in his first season. Look for them to restore some of the good feelings lost after Bobby Petrino and Rick Pitino.19. Virginia: Bronco Mendenhall and Tony BennettCombined career record: 438-187 (.701)Heads up: Recent national titles carry a ton of weight on this list. Bennett’s 2018-19 national title team gets UVA on the list, but Mendenhall also has the potential to make the Cavaliers a consistent bowl contender.18. Michigan: Jim Harbaugh and Juwan HowardCombined career record: 67-35 (.657)The Wolverines love to talk about how important “Michigan men” are to their programs. Now they have former star player power on both their football and basketball teams. Harbaugh has led Michigan to 10-win campaigns in three of his four seasons in Ann Arbor, and Howard is a fine hire in replacement of John Beilein.17. Ohio State: Ryan Day and Chris HoltmannCombined career record: 162-109 (.598)Urban Meyer and Thad Matta were a strong 1-2 punch for awhile, but now the Buckeyes move on to a pair of smart younger minds. Holtmann has coached the Buckeyes to the second round in each of the last two NCAA Tournaments, while Day went 3-0 as interim coach for Meyer in 2018.16. TCU: Gary Patterson and Jamie DixonCombined career record: 563-227 (.713)Patterson has been a Fort Worth force for a long time, compiling 167-63 record and transitioning nicely from the Mountain West to the Big 12. Dixon is starting to bring some of his Pitt prowess there, too.MORE: Ranking college football coaches 1-130 for 2019 season15. Auburn: Gus Malzahn and Bruce PearlCombined career record: 393-201 (.662)Malzahn’s best work was with Cam Newton as the OC for Gene Chizik’s natty, but he coached the Tigers to the 2014 BCS title game and New Year’s Day Six bowls in 2016 and ’17. Pearl has seen his side become spectacular, winning the SEC regular-season and conference tournament titles in 2018 and ’19 — plus coaching Auburn to the Final Four in 2019.14. UCLA: Chip Kelly and Mick CroninCombined career record: 414-187 (.689)This is an upside play for sure, one that banks on Kelly being more Eugene than San Francisco in LA. Cronin can bring that Cincy sensibility to Westwood, too.13. Texas A&M: Jimbo Fisher and Buzz WilliamsCombined career record: 345-182 (.655)The Aggies were impressive in their successful pursuit of Fisher, not long after his natty at Florida State. Now there should be some, well, Buzz, for hoops with the addition of Williams out of Virginia Tech.12. Washington: Chris Petersen and Mike HopkinsCombined career record: 191-60 (.761)Petersen has carried his Boise State juice over well in Washington, compiling three straight double-digit-win seasons and New Year’s Day Six bowls. Hopkins has proved he learned well from Jim Boeheim at Syracuse. Same success, different turfs.11. Syracuse: Dino Babers and Jim BoeheimCombined career record: 1,083-413 (.724)Speaking of Boeheim. He boasts a natty and career record of 1,047-385 (vacated wins aside), making him only the second coach at the Division I level to cross the 1,000-win mark. His longevity, coupled with Babers’ bright future — he led the Orange to only their seventh-ever double-digit win season in 2018 — have Syracuse on the cusp of the top 10.MORE: Sporting News’ post-spring preseason top 2510. Georgia: Kirby Smart and Tom CreanCombined career record: 399-262 (.604)Smart already has the Bulldogs back in the natty conversation every year, and there’s some hope that Crean can find his Milwaukee and Bloomington best in Athens.9. Clemson: Dabo Swinney and Brad BrownellCombined career record: 452-242 (.651)Swinney has turned Clemson into a national power on the gridiron, punctuated by two natties in four seasons that came against football powerhouse Alabama. That’s a big boost to Brownell, another solid leader of men for the Tigers.8. Kentucky: Mark Stoops and John CalipariCombined career record: 786-250 (.751)Calipari got that natty with Anthony Davis and carries his equity from UMass and Memphis. Stoops getting football firmly on the map with its first 10-win season in 41 years — at a basketball school — can’t be overlooked.7. Notre Dame: Brian Kelly and Mike BreyCombined career record: 742-330 (.692)They have been steady representatives of the proud Fighting Irish together for a while, with some big spikes. Between them and women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw, there’s a lot of stability in South Bend.6. Kansas: Les Miles and Bill SelfCombined career record: 822-266 (.755)We told you natties matter, and the Mad Hatter carries one into KU from LSU (it counts). Self has one too with the powerhouse Jayhawks, making this one of only two national title-winning tandems on this list.MORE: Predicting 2019 bowl, Playoff games5. Alabama: Nick Saban and Nate OatsCombined career record: 333-106-1 (.757)Saban’s GOATness — six national titles between two schools and 11 straight seasons with at least 10 wins — combined with Oats’ upside — 59-13 record the last two seasons at Buffalo — rolls the Crimson Tide just inside the top five.4. Oklahoma: Lincoln Riley and Lon KrugerCombined career record: 663-413 (.616)Riley isn’t going anywhere for a while as the offensive wunderkind responsible for back-to-back Heisman quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. Kruger has found his best home since those peak Florida days, coaching the Sooners to the NCAA Tournament in six of eight seasons and the Final Four in 2016.3. Duke: David Cutcliffe and Mike KrzyzewskiCombined career record: 1,243-445 (.736)Coach K stamps this duo with 1,132 career wins and five national championships, but the offensive-minded, well-liked Cutlcliffe has done a great job to make Blue Devils football relevant enough to have a first-round quarterback.2. Michigan State: Mark Dantonio and Tom IzzoCombined career record: 731-300 (.709)