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From the Sidelines

Former Record-Eagle sports writer, now special sections editor, Mark Urban writes about professional, college and area high school sports.

Thanksgiving = football

By Mark UrbanThanksgiving without football would be like a Christmas without the snow. Sure, it’s happened. But it sure felt weird and wrong.

In my family, the Thanksgiving holiday comes right along with a heaping side of pigskin. That’s what happens when Uncle Ed is a high school football coach and you remember when he drew up the most fascinating and basic offensive formations on a piece of notebook paper that you kept in your bedroom for a long time afterward. More »

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Penn State needs to start from scratch

By Mark UrbanThere’s so much to say on the Penn State scandal and cover-up that it’s almost tough to begin.

Some defenders are saying that Joe Paterno should have been allowed to coach the final three games at Penn State, or at the very least the final home game at Beaver Stadium. Others say that a man who has served as the head coach of the Nittany Lions since 1966 deserves a better way to go out.

Hell, no. More »

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Sportsmanship: Give it pause

By Mark UrbanA few Traverse City St. Francis fans see a Grayling player lying on the Thirlby Field turf in the final minute and decide that he must be faking an injury to stop the clock.

After all, center/linebacker Ryan Randall surely saw the New York Giants playing hurt to slow down the no-huddle offense of the St. Louis Rams. More »

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Best Michigan sports week ever

By Mark UrbanWhat a week to be a sports fan in Michigan. I can never remember a more meaningful stretch of games (in a positive way) in this state. Ever.

Beginning with the Lions game against the Bears on Monday Night Football and ending with Sunday’s game at Ford Field with the equally-surprising San Francisco 49ers, this is the best time to be a sports fan in Michigan. More »

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Epic night of baseball

By Mark UrbanI love being right. Whether it’s a bet with a co-worker for a pop or in finding a seventh-round sleeper in Fantasy Football, there’s no better feeling than getting a perfect prognosticator.

In one night of baseball, I went from correctly picking five of the eight playoff teams prior to the start of the season to getting just three correct (dropping my grade from a D to a ‘See you again next year’). It was SO worth it. More »

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Hard to ignore Lions’ history

By Mark UrbanA lot of people I know are optimistically behind the Detroit Lions and their expected march toward the postseason.

So why do I find it so hard to picture silver success? One word: history. More »

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A step in the right direction for Lions

By Mark UrbanAs soon as the NFL schedule is released, there’s nothing better than going game-by-game for your favorite team and saying ‘Win’ or ‘Loss’ for every week of the schedule.

The problem was that when the 2011 slate came out, the NFL was still in the midst of the lockout and all the bad feelings that were associated with it. Then I wanted to wait for the preseason to play out. Now, I don’t put any stock into the preseason and even less this year with the abbreviated off-season. So, here goes my take on the 2011 Lions. More »

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Weekly guide to the prep football season

By Mark UrbanThe prep football season is under way and the excitement of the opening week has faded, but there are plenty of great games under the lights remaining.

So it’s time to look ahead to the rest of the season. Following are the best games of each week ahead as well as several other great possibilities. To save on gas, only games that are hosted by an area team are listed. More »

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Ready for some football

By Mark UrbanEven though the lockout didn’t really prevent much in the NFL, the long wait is over in terms of actual games — even the preseason ones. College football players are also reporting to campus. On Monday (even Sunday at midnight for some), the prep football season got under way with the first day of practice.

Are you ready for some football? Yes, I most definitely am — especially with Fantasy Football draft season rapidly approaching. More »

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Open up the bidding

By Mark UrbanEvery year on ESPN Radio and the V Foundation raises money for cancer research by offering some unique and very cool sports experiences up for bid.

I’ve always thought we could do this in northern Michigan as well, so here’s my take by sport: More »

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