In three of his last three four fights, against Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao, Antonio Margarito has endured inhuman amounts of punishment. Three of the toughest, most highly skilled boxers in the world have, in essence, had free reign to pummel him about the face and head.

He's been battered and beaten so badly in those fights, it's fair to ask if he'll ever be the same boxer. Every fighter, no matter how tough, can take only so many punches.

Margarito, though, is adamant that, physically, at least, he's fine. He's a fighter, and he's going to come to fight as hard as he can. He loves the macho aspect of the game, the toe-to-toe, me versus you simplicity of it. He'll rematch Cotto on Saturday in front of what is expected to be a sold-out crowd of more than 20,000 at New York's Madison Square Garden and a worldwide pay-per-view audience in a fight that figures to be equally as violent as those other three.

Margarito, though, laughs at the thought that he may shy away from the battle because of the punishment he's absorbed.

"Never," he scoffs. "This is what I do. I don't quit."

For the last nearly three years, though, there has been a curtain of pain and hurt that has enveloped Antonio Margarito and his wife, Michelle. He's become boxing's greatest villain and has been branded as a criminal and a cheater by other fighters, other promoters, media and the fans.

He sat out more than a year. He cut off a relationship with a man who was like a father to him. He's jumped through every hoop he's been asked to jump through. And yet, little he says has altered the overwhelmingly negative opinion of him.

It doesn't help when Cotto, one of the biggest names in the sport, labels you a criminal and will tell anyone who will listen.

"When you put plaster on your hands and you go into a boxing ring, you're a criminal," Cotto says, adamant that Margarito's hand wraps were loaded when they fought in Las Vegas on July 26, 2008. "That's like bringing into a weapon into the ring and that's criminal."

Keith Kizer, the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, has repeatedly insisted there is no evidence that Margarito's wraps were tampered with that night in Las Vegas.

But because of the events of Jan. 24, 2009, Margarito's life has never been the same. And it hurts him, as well as his family, like no punch could ever do.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

"He's hasn't come to peace [with all of the criticism]," Margarito's co-manager, Sergio Diaz, said. "I don't know if he ever will. It's hard when you know you didn't do anything wrong and people are saying things. Of course that's tough for someone to take."

There are few things more difficult to accept in life than being falsely accused. The question that is outstanding, however, is whether Margarito has, in fact, been falsely accused.

In the moments before he was to walk to the ring to fight Mosley before an adoring throng at Staples Center in Los Angeles, his then-trainer, Javier Capetillo, who was like a father figure to him, began to wrap his hands. Naazim Richardson, Mosley's wily trainer, felt the wrap on the right hand and insisted something was wrong.

An inspector for the California State Athletic Commission ordered the wrap to be cut off and for his hand to be re-wrapped. When the first wrap was removed, a small knuckle pad with a reddish brown stain on it fell out and was seized.

When it was later examined by a laboratory, it was determined to contain two of the elements that are in Plaster of Paris. Significantly, though, it was never ruled that it actually was Plaster of Paris.

"The question in this whole thing is, who was complicit in this event," said promoter Bob Arum, who has been Margarito's staunchest defender, so much so that it indisputably strained his previously solid relationship with Cotto. "Look: I saw the wraps. I touched the wraps. The wraps were used before. But the idea that there was Plaster of Paris on them is just not true. It's not like the thing felt hard, like a rock. It had two chemicals that are contained in Plaster of Paris. That is true. But those same chemicals are also present in the creams that the trainers put on the fighters' hands before they wrap them.

"But even with all of that, Margarito had no idea about what was going on. I am convinced only Capetillo knew. Even the [California] commission, when it suspended him, said Margarito didn't know. But they ruled because he was the captain of the ship, so to speak, he was responsible for what those on his team did."

In the immediate aftermath of the revelation that something was untoward with Margarito's wraps prior to the Mosley fight, Cotto was silent, even in the face of relentless questioning. Cotto had never been beaten as he had by Margarito six months prior to that Mosley bout. Cotto raced out to an early lead, but Margarito's relentless pressure ultimately wore Cotto down and the fight was stopped in the 11th, his mangled face a bruised and bloodied mess.

But then, as Margarito's saga unfolded, Cotto began to receive pictures of Margarito celebrating without his gloves on in the ring after their fight. And when Cotto zoomed in on Margarito's still wrapped hands, he said he was stunned.

On his right wrap, there was an area near Margarito's right pinky finger, in which the outer wrapping had somehow fallen off. Could it have been a piece of plaster that broke and fell off when Margarito's gloves were tugged off? Cotto began to believe so, particularly when he saw that same reddish brown stain on the remains of Margarito's wraps which looked so eerily similar to the piece confiscated from Margarito's glove prior to the Mosley fight.

"When the matter of the hands first came out, I didn't want to talk about it because I didn't have a clear view of what happened," Cotto said. "Then, some pictures came out, and I looked at those, and then I had a really good, clear understanding of what had happened in my fight.

"Those pictures told me that he used it in the fight with me. I handled my defeat like a man, and I have for three years, but he wasn't a man to use those kinds of things. He's a criminal to do that."

Margarito has never wavered. He has always insisted that he had no knowledge of the illegal piece that was found in his wrap in Los Angeles that night. He has, he insisted, earned every cent he's gotten through tenacity and hard work.

He abhors the idea of being labeled a cheater. He's been dubbed "Margacheato" by some and "Hands of Stone," by others. Kermit Cintron, a knockout victim of Margarito in 2005 and 2008, has wondered publicly if those knockout losses had been aided by a bit of chicanery.

Prior to the fight, Cintron had been known for a good chin. But he was battered and beaten easily by Margarito in both of their matches.

"I honestly don't know," Cintron said on a conference call. "I have no proof to show he used plaster in my fights. Only he knows. ... It sure made him look bad after he got caught. Were there a lot of questions in my mind about it? Yes. But I have no proof that he used plaster. I believe if you're caught once, what makes you think that he hasn't done it before?"

Margarito has tried to laugh off the suggestions that he's a cheater. His trainer, Robert Garcia, said he's gone so far as to let his hair grow wildly and wear dark glasses all the time to help foster the impression of a bad guy.

But Margarito has been pained by the allegations and what it has done to his family. He's become a pariah, of sorts, among boxing fans and it's caused great angst.

"It has been very hurtful to read and listen to what Miguel says about my husband," Michelle Margarito said. "I read and hear comments that are extremely upsetting. I am proud of what my husband has accomplished. I admire his dedication and love for his job. He's great husband and an even better human being."

Top Rank president Todd duBoef said Margarito doesn't enjoy the villainous role that the Mosley saga has imposed upon him. Arum said Margarito has been extraordinary loyal and thankful to him for his assistance in building Margarito's career.

Long before the hand wraps controversy, Margarito remained at Arum's side during a trial in Puerto Rico in which Margarito could have gotten free of his ties to Top Rank.

"He's been an honest, loyal guy ever since I've known him," said Arum, who has promoted Margarito for more than 10 years. "There are a lot of people who talk, but they talk without knowing all of the facts and they're jumping to conclusions that simply aren't true.

"If I thought for a minute that this kid had knowledge of [the illegal wraps], I'd have dropped him so fast you couldn't believe it. But I really studied this situation and it became obvious he had nothing to do with it. So how I could I dump him just because people who didn't do the research that I had and who don't know what the hell they're talking about are criticizing him? I couldn't. I had to stand by him, even if it were unpopular."

Arum has been like Margarito's guardian angel since the night of the Mosley fight. Arum zealously supported Margarito at a contentious hearing in front of the California commission, and angrily compared a deputy attorney general who was presenting the state's case against Margarito to Adolf Hitler.

He gave him a fight against Pacquiao and, after that bout when Margarito had serious eye injuries, brought him to highly regarded ophthalmologist Alan Crandall. He saved Margarito's career and, perhaps, his eyesight.

"Tony called me a few months after the Pacquiao fight and he said, 'Robert, you're my trainer and you've been my trainer for a couple of fights now and I think you deserve to hear this from me: I'm retiring,' " Garcia said. "He told me that he couldn't see out of the eye and if he couldn't see, he couldn't fight and would have to retire."

But Arum interceded and took Margarito to Crandall, one of the foremost ophthalmologists in the country.

Crandall removed a cataract, implanted a new lens and ultimately saved Margarito's sight, and career.

The heat on Margarito has only increased as the fight nears, and it's clear it's not something he enjoys. But Margarito hopes that his performance on Saturday -- both before the fight and during it -- will end the doubts, and the criticisms, forever.

"I have never cheated and I tell you, I never, ever would," Margarito said. "If Cotto wants to come to my [locker room] and wrap my hands before the fight, he can do that. Anyone who wants to watch, hey, I don't care, let them watch. I have nothing to hide. I would rather everyone watch [my hands being wrapped], because then they'll know for sure that nothing is wrong.

"And then, when I go out and do to Cotto the same thing I did the last time, they'll know what the truth is."

Full Story >>

We've all looked at our speedometer and wondered what it might be like to max out. What would driving 100 mph be like? How about 140 mph?

But have you ever wondered what it's like to travel 462.345 mph?

Wonder no more:

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

No part of that video beats the first six seconds. One moment you're looking at the surface of the salt flats in what we can only guess is Utah, and then all of the sudden, a rocket with wheels goes thundering by. It makes NASCAR seem like a steamroller race in mud.

Wait -- maybe the best part of the video is the rear view, where we see a Ford truck peeling off into the dust. How cool would it be to do that in traffic?

You can watch the whole video and marvel at the ridiculous rates of speed, the camera angles and the landmarks and torched Earth. But it all comes back to those first six seconds.

For perspective: 462 mph is more than twice as fast as Indy cars and Formula One cars. It is absolutely hauling tail at more than halfway to the speed of sound (761.2 mph). We'd say don't try this at home, but let's be honest, you couldn't if you tried and you won't try because you don't have a missile for a car. (We know, we know: we wish we had one, too).

More Great Stories On ThePostGame:
-- From Another Era And Another Sport, A Sex Abuse Scandal Still Inflicting Pain Today
-- Mother Postpones Son's Appendectomy To See Manny Pacquiao In Person
-- Top 11 Athletes To Wear No. 11
-- 44 Lives On: Jordan Gathers, Hank's Nephew, Tries To Shoulder A Beautiful Legacy

Full Story >>

By RealClearSports

We all know that Auburn won the BCS title game over Oregon and TCU capped off an undefeated season with a win in the Rose Bowl. But do you know what football program finished first in the classroom last season?

Try Notre Dame. Yep, according to the recently released NCAA Graduation Success Rate (GSR) Report, the Fighting Irish graduated 97 percent of their players and ranked first among 120 FBS teams. Other teams near the top of the list should surprise no one: Northwestern, Boston College, Duke, Rice and the three service academies.

Now, that got us thinking. What if we ranked all 120 teams according to their combined academic and football prowess, giving equal weight to each? This way, we can find out which programs have the best of both worlds, achieving success both on the football field and in the classrooms.

Click here for more schools

Slideshow: The football/academic powerhouses

Using the NCAA GSR Report and Jeff Sagarin's computer ratings (his conventional version, not the Elo-Chess model developed for the BCS), we came up with our Top 10 Football/Academic Powerhouses (for the 2010 season):

To see the entire rankings from 1-120, click here.

Check out more College Football News On RealClearSports

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

T-10. Florida Gators

GSR Ranking: 27. GSR: 76 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 24. AP Poll: 31. Record: 8-5. Life without Tebow, as expected, was a bit of a bumpy ride. But Florida didn't just lose the former Heisman winner after the 2009 season - eight other Gators were also taken in the first five rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft. That’s a lot of talent to replace and the Gators struggled, especially on defense, giving up over 30 points in five games. Tim Tebow's replacement John Brantley also had growing pains and the result was an 8-5 season. Coach Urban Meyer quit the program after the season because of health concerns, but he did leave with Florida having the third-highest graduation rate in the SEC.

T-10. Air Force Falcons

GSR Ranking: 14. GSR: 84 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 37. AP Poll: 35. Record: 9-4. It should surprise no one that our three military academies should produce outstanding student-athletes, since they're selected from the finest high school graduates with a future career as officers in the armed forces. All three institution were ranked in the top 15 of the NCAA's GSR Report. On the football field, after a seven-year domination by Navy, Air Force finally wrested away the Commander-in-Chief Trophy in 2010 after ending a concurrent seven-game losing streak to the Midshipmen. The Falcons have now won it 18 times (including in 2011) in the trophy's 36-year history.

9. Alabama Crimson Tide

GSR Ranking: 44. GSR: 69 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 5. AP Poll: 10. Record: 10-3. Alabama came into the 2010 season with high expectations. The Tide were the defending champions and preseason No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches' polls. But their championship hopes were derailed after by a loss to South Carolina as Alabama lost three of its final seven games to finish fourth in the SEC West. The most galling defeat was in the Iron Bowl, when the Tide blew a 24-0 lead against Auburn in a 28-27 loss. It was an especially disappointing season given the level of talent, with four players -- Marcel Dareus, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and James Carpenter -- selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.

8. Miami Hurricanes

GSR Ranking: 8. GSR: 88 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 40. AP Poll: NR. Record: 7-6. The since-fired coach Randy Shannon really didn't get his fair share from the University of Miami. He came in under difficult circumstances and cleaned up the program as best as he could (he was one of the few University officials to demand everyone steer clear of dirty booster Nevin Shapiro). He didn't win quite enough for Miami's nostalgia-obsessed fan base, but still took the 'Canes to three straight bowl appearances. Shannon did his best work, though, in the classroom. The Hurricanes, long considered a renegade program full of thugs, graduated 88 percent of their players according to the latest NCAA GSR Report.

7. Boise State Broncos

GSR Ranking: 35. GSR: 74 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 6. AP Poll: 9. Record: 12-1. It's tough to consider a 12-1 season that ended in a crushing bowl victory a disappointment, but it was just that for Boise State. After defeating sixth-ranked Virginia Tech in the opener, most assumed the Broncos would go undefeated. But a trip to Reno in late November ended their quest for a third consecutive perfect regular season as senior kicker Kyle Brotzman's two missed field goals paved the way for Nevada's 33-30 stunning victory in overtime. But Chris Petersen's team nevertheless finished in the top 11 in the AP Poll for a third consecutive year while maintaining a high graduation rate.

6. Iowa Hawkeyes

GSR Ranking: 15. GSR: 83 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 21. AP Poll: 27. Record: 8-5. Coach Kirk Ferentz is in his 13th season at Iowa, a stint that's included two Big Ten co-championships and four 10-win seasons. The Hawkeyes have won their last three bowl games, beating Missouri in the Insight Bowl after the 2010 season. While Ferentz has been considered for several NFL and high-profile college jobs over the years, he has also done a remarkable job with his student-athletes. Iowa is one of just three Big Ten schools (Northwestern and Penn State are the others) to rank in the top 25 of the NCAA's GSR Report.

-- Check out Top 10 College Football "Games of the Century"

5. LSU Tigers

GSR Ranking: 24. GSR: 77 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 8. AP Poll: 8. Record: 11-2. It was LSU's defense that led the way in its win over Alabama on Saturday night in the latest "Game of the Century." Last season the Tigers relied on their defense as well, but in their biggest game of the season, that defense let them down. LSU couldn't stop Cam Newton and the Auburn running game, giving up 440 rushing yards, including 217 by the eventual Heisman winner in a 24-17 loss that propelled Auburn to the national championship. LSU did finish 11-2 and had the second-best graduation rate in the SEC, behind only Vanderbilt.

4. Virginia Tech Hokies

GSR Ranking: 17. GSR: 79 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 13. AP Poll: 16. Record: 11-3. In 2010, with a roster that included senior quarterback Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech lost its opener in a high-profile game against Boise State and then was stunned by James Madison (an FCS team) the following week. But the Hokies rebounded, winning all their remaining games and the ACC title before losing to Stanford in the Orange Bowl. It marked the seventh straight season that Virginia Tech has won at least 10 games. Coach Frank Beamer doesn't let up in the classroom, either. Virginia Tech is just one of five schools that were ranked in the top 25 in both the AP Poll and the NCAA's GSR Report.

3. TCU Horned Frogs

GSR Ranking: 21. GSR: 78 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 4. AP Poll: 2. Record: 13-0. The 2010 Horned Frogs, led by senior quarterback Andy Dalton, finished a perfect 13-0. It was a dominating season in which just two of their 12 games were decided by fewer than 17 points. Despite the perfect record, TCU was denied a shot at the national title and had to settle for a 21-19 Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin. Coach Gary Patterson's success story went beyond a trip to the "Granddaddy of 'em All," though, as the Horned Frogs were one of just two BCS bowl winners that finished in our top 10.

2. Notre Dame
Fighting Irish

GSR Ranking: 1. GSR: 97 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 19. AP Poll: 33. Record: 8-5. Despite its recent struggles that included a 3-9 season in 2008, Notre Dame has been slowly climbing back into national prominence. In 2010, the Irish won their final four games to finish 8-5, including a 20-16 victory over USC that broke the Trojans' eight-game winning streak in the storied rivalry series. But Notre Dame's success in the classroom is unquestioned. For the 2009-10 academic year, the Irish topped all FBS schools with an astounding 97 percent graduation rate.

1. Stanford Cardinal

GSR Ranking: 10. GSR: 87 percent. Sagarin Ranking: 2. AP Poll: 4. Record: 12-1. Stanford has come a long way since 2006 when it went 1-11. The following year, Jim Harbaugh took over and he increased the Cardinal's win total in each of his four years as coach. Last year, led by quarterback Andrew Luck, Stanford went 12-1, losing only to eventual Pac-10 champion Oregon and trouncing Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, 40-12. Harbaugh, who moved on to the San Francisco 49ers after the season, also kept up Stanford's standing as one of the finest universities in the world, with easily the highest graduation rate in the conference. If the national championship was decided with academics as part of the consideration, the Cardinal -- the only team ranked in the top 10 in both the AP Poll and the NCAA's GSR Report -- would be the runaway winner.

More Stories From RealClearSports:
-- At Penn State, They All Had to Go
-- A Penn State Break: Escaping The Hurt For A Few Hours
-- Penn State Scandal Robs Sports of Innocence
-- Dick Allen Deserves Hall More Than Ron Santo, Gil Hodges

Popular Stories On ThePostGame:
-- Celebrating 11-11-11: Top 11 Athletes To Wear No. 11
-- How Railings Can Derail Your Daily Workout
-- Who Wins A One-On-One Showdown Between Mayweather And Pacquiao ... In Basketball?
-- Famous Athlete-Celeb Marriages -- And Divorces

Full Story >>


With Joe Paterno's ouster as coach of Penn State, a new man has taken the reigns as the dean of college football coaches.

Chris Ault has been head coach at the University of Nevada for the better part of the past 27 years. He began coaching the Wolf Pack at age 29 in 1976, some 26 years after Paterno was hired as an assistant with the Nittany Lions (1950) and 10 years after JoePa became head coach in 1966.

Only 10 major college coaches have been at one school for longer than Ault's 25 years at Nevada. The only active coaches with more wins than Ault are Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (248) and Mack Brown of Texas at (225). Ault's 224 wins are one behind Brown, and he's got fewer career losses than the Longhorns' coach.

Ault is considered the inventor of what's known as the "Pistol Offense." The scheme combines the shotgun and single-back offenses to create a power running game to supplement the spread formation. Nevada used the Pistol offense to lead the nation in rushing during the 2009 season, behind quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The Wolf Pack became the first school in the history of college football to have three players rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.

Parts of the Ault-designed Pistol offensive has been run by dozens of colleges including Alabama, Florida and LSU. In addition, the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Kansas City Chiefs, Detroit Lions and Buffalo Bills have used pieces of it.

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!

During his time at Nevada, Ault has won nine conference championships and helped Engineer the greatest come back in NCAA history (35 points vs. Weber State in 1991)

Following a 1-3 start, the Wolf Pack have won four games in a row, and are fifth in the country in total offense, trailing only Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Houston. Nevada plays host to Hawaii this weekend.

Former Redskins DE Charles Mann and current Seahawks WR Nate Burleson, along with Kaepernick -- now a 49ers rookie -- are among the Nevada players coached by Ault who made NFL rosters.

Ault is a member of four different Halls of Fame, including the College Football Hall of Fame.

Coach Chris Ault's creation the "Pistol Offense"

Pittsburgh Steelers running the Pistol with an injured Ben Roethlisberger

Popular Stories On ThePostGame:
-- Who Wins A One-On-One Showdown Between Mayweather And Pacquiao ... In Basketball?
-- 'Magic Johnson Is HIV Positive:' 20 Years Later, The Man Still Looms Larger Than The Moment
-- Bullying Victims Fight Back With Help From Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Royalty
-- Shake Up Your Workout With These Targeted Core Exercises

Full Story >>