The Big Ten Network came out with a new promotional series depicting each conference football coach with a detail specific to his school. This includes Urban Meyer shining the national championship trophy, Jim Harbaugh tipping his hat to the Bo Schembechler statue at Michigan Stadium and James Franklin sifting through a rack of white button-downs.

The real star is Pat Fitzgerald. The Northwestern coach sits in silence for 10 seconds with cats purring around him.

Thankfully, no real Wildcats were used.

As coach Fitzgerald says at the end of every interview, "Go Cats!"

Kenny Smith doesn't fear arguing with Charles Barkley. Nor does he fear the occasional run-in with fellow TNT commentator Shaquille O'Neal. But Smith sings a completely different tune when it comes to the topic of cats. Find out why Smith can appreciate dogs but has a self-described "phobia" toward felines.

This text will be replaced

Nick Saade is a taxidermist, so he's used to working with animal skin for art. It's a passion and one he's been working on for 18 years.

From his blackjack table featuring a raccoon, squirrel, possum and groundhog, to his couch-potato muskrat, Saade can get creative with his projects.

"I basically do this because I love to do it, and I don't like to see any parts of animals wasted," said the Lansing, Michigan native.

He's come up with many different ways to display the animals, but his latest work is drawing a lot of attention from the sporting world. Saade has recreated the Michigan State/Michigan rivalry using chipmunks.

It's certainly a unique sight. And, according to Saade, it was a very difficult production.

It takes five to six hours to skin, stuff and sew each chipmunk, Saade says. The body of the chipmunk gets a styrofoam treatment, while the legs use putty and wires to help create passing, throwing, catching and tackling positions.

With the help of his son Eddie, who coaches high school football, Saade organized the players into the correct formations. He's waiting on the referee uniforms from a relative who is a doll-maker.

After the figures were formed, he added miniature Wolverines and Spartans helmet for the 22 positions on the field. Then, the rivalry was on.

And if you're wondering: Saade doesn't kill the chipmunks solely for his project. He collects his skin from "road kill, trapped nuisance animals and leftover parts from hunting and fishing trophies."

Saade is a self-taught taxidermist and says that the job can actually be quite lucrative. He works his own hours out of his garage.

As for the chipmunk display, it will eventually be on the market. The price will end up somewhere near $1,500.

"I'm going to have as much fun as I possibly can, then sooner or later it will end up for sale," Saade said.

However, Saade is not depending on the game to make the big bucks. He's not even worried about it selling.

"I don't even care if it sells or not," he said. "It's just a cute thing."

The recent shark attack against surfing pro Mick Fanning has only served to fan the flame of our collective fear of sharks.

People respond to this fear in a variety of ways. Many simply choose to stay out of the water. But two people in North Carolina refused to let their fears stop them from enjoying the Atlantic waters.

What does one do when one wants to swim, but is afraid of sharks lurking in the waters? The answer is clear: One builds a personal shark cage to protect oneself.

This is how that worked out.

It's disappointing that the conversation between the lifeguard and the two innovators is too quiet and muffled to hear. From a purely practical standpoint, we can only hope the lifeguard told them that their cages were a terrible idea -- ineffective at best, and at worst a cause of death on their own.

Did these people really think that such a thin, simple cage would protect them from a shark? Do they not understand that their limbs hang out in the unprotected open, not to mention that the shark could probably do considerable damage going straight for the cage itself?

Have these people ever seen a real shark cage to know how it worked? And the most fundamental question: how did they expect to swim while bearing the weight of a metal cage?

As is often the case when people do stupid things, we have many questions and few answers. Just save yourself the trouble and do not try this at home.

Work ethic is a learned skill for many, passed down by parents, coaches, and other mentors.

New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon is quick to credit his work ethic to an unlikely source: His childhood pet donkey.

According to a profile by Dan Barry in The New York Times, Colon's upbringing in the Dominican Republic was very centered around hard work -- to such a degree that he often had to sneak away from his father's oversight to play baseball.

Colon also spent a lot of time with his pet donkey, Pancho, while working for his father. As he grew older, he began to prove himself as a natural baseball talent, drawing interest from scouts.

The NYT article reports that while the young Colon did not possess a typical pitcher's physique, "he possessed obvious talent and a commitment to hard work, a trait that Colon once said he learned from the likes of Pancho."

Of course, Colon's way of life also instilled a commitment to hard work -- the pitcher built arm strength by de-pulping 1,000 crates of coffee beans in a single day, per the NYT.

At any rate, Pancho has been immortalized in Colon's training complex built in his hometown of El Copey. A wall illustration tells the story of Pancho and his important role in the Cy Young winner's life.

It just goes to show you: Never forget where you came from, and remember to thank all the people -- and donkeys -- who helped you reach your dreams.

Millions of Americans were enthralled Sunday as the United States dominated Japan in the World Cup final.

Not only was it the fifth most watched non-NFL sports event of the year, the United States victory was the second-most viewed soccer match ever in the country.

The brilliant play of Carli Lloyd and her teammates was so captivating that it transcended the human race. Even dogs wanted in on the action.

A man who goes by "The Auger" on Twitter uploaded this video of his granddaughter doing her best to distract the family dog, Deuce, during the soccer final. And the girl had no luck.

Deuce, along with more than 25 million humans, watched as the United States thrashed Japan in a rematch of the 2011 final. The Americans scored four goals in the first 15 minutes and cruised to a 5-2 victory. The victory marks the first time the Americans have taken the World Cup trophy since 1999.

Seagulls have a long relationship with Oakland Coliseum, with swarms making a number of appearances over the years. Chalk that up to the price of playing a baseball game so close to a major body of water.

Usually, the presence of seagulls is harmless, if a little invasive. But last night, the seafaring birds were particularly aggressive.

Chicken fingers were reportedly pilfered from fans, and the gulls were so dense in the outfield that Athletics players were placing their gloves on top of their hats, helpless to clear the field and just hopeful that the birds didn't hit them with any unwanted deposits.

The San Francisco Giants have had similar problems on the other side of the bay. There's no obvious solution to the problem -- oftentimes, the interference only goes on for a short while, and then it's back to business as usual.

If the problem persists, it might be time for Randy Johnson to unretire his cannon of an arm and remind those birds the perils of spending too much time at a baseball field.

Some members of Michigan's football team have adopted a wallaby. Well, those guys actually think they adopted a kangaroo, but the general consensus is that they actually own a wallaby. (The folks at the San Diego Zoo have an explanation on the difference between a wallaby and a kangaroo.)

The distinction is probably not important to them: The animal is from Australia, is a marsupial, and it is awesome. Junior running back Wyatt Shallman posted a picture to Instagram that shows him posing with the newest member of the Wolverines family:

Go big or go home.... New member of 1401 south state #kangaroo #imnotevenjoking

A photo posted by Wyatt Shallman (@thepeoplesrepublicofshallman) on

Shallman, who lives in a house with several other members of the Michigan football program, doesn't say where he got the wallaby.

It doesn't seem to be illegal, since there are pet wallaby breeders based in Michigan, but if we're assessing the wisdom of adopting a pet wallaby while playing college football, that might be subject to debate.

Quarterback Shane Morris, who lives in the house with Shallman, doesn't seem to think the wallaby is the greatest idea in the world:

Similarly, it's doubtful Michigan's football program has a written rule addressing wallabies as pets -- yet, anyway.

But now that the public knows about the wallaby situation, Shallman had better be careful and take proper care of the wallaby. If he's irresponsible about his new pet, animal activists will be eager to take him to task over it.

It doesn't take much common sense to know that college football players and wallabies probably don't mix well. Jim Harbaugh can't be thrilled about the potential distractions this creates.

A website devoted to the noble purpose of identifying every NBA player with a cat has resurfaced and is slowly but surely gaining steam. and the corresponding Twitter account, @NBAcatwatch, has become quite active the past few weeks. The site has even added one more player, Golden State Warriors forward James Michael McAdoo, to its list of confirmed cat owners.

McAdoo joins Nik Stauskas, Alexey Shved and a handful of others players who are also feline owners. Not surprisingly, both the quirky Lopez brothers care for a curiously named cat. Brook, the Brooklyn Nets center, has Poup. His brother, Robin, has Prince Edward Zephyr.

For what it's worth, lots of people associated with the NBA have cats. Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is one:

Still, the list of players who own cats remains relatively small. In fact, the list of NBA players who are scared of cats is nearly as long and much more notable. Carmelo Anthony, Eric Bledsoe, Draymond Green, Zach Randolph are all afraid of cats.

To compile the list, the feline fanatic behind the website has put in lots of detective work:

As for the future, it's unclear how many players in this year's NBA draft are cat owners. Jahlil Okafor, who will likely be one of the top picks Thursday, has said that he wants to be a veterinarian but has given no indication that he likes cats. Sam Dekker, the former Wisconsin forward who is also likely to be drafted Thursday, has been spotted with cats but has not confirmed ownership:

I got a starting 5 of kittens!

A photo posted by Sam Dekker (@samdek15) on

At this point, it seems safe to say there will be more Wildcats (as in, those from Arizona and Kentucky) entering the NBA than there will be cat owners.

(Hat tip to Deadspin)

At the "Pups in the Park" promotion at Dodger Stadium, dogs from around the Los Angeles area were brought to the ballpark for a little fun in the sun.

One came more prepared than the others. Gizmo T. Pug, a special pug correspondent to the Los Angeles Times, was ready to report on the event. Armed with a video camera mounted to his back, the pup brought viewers around the stadium and face-to-face with other dogs at the game.

As far as ideas go, this one was worth its weight in gold. Gizmo proved a great tour guide, interacting with a number of dogs throughout the park. He also proved popular among fans, earning some much-deserved scratches.

But nothing beats watching Gizmo take his seat in the stands and enjoy the game. The scene was as hilarious as it was adorable.

It seems crazy that no one had thought of this before, but thanks to Gizmo's video, the world is surely a better place today than it was last week.

Meanwhile, it's time to open the gates to dogs on a more regular basis. America's past time meets man's best friend: What else do you want?

Syndicate content