After nearly 20 years in college and pro football, Bill O'Brien finally attained the head coaching job he coveted. Prior to the 2012 season, the 43-year-old Brown alum took over a Penn State University program devastated by the child sex abuse scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. Then the NCAA hit the university with a $60 million fine, scholarship reductions and a four-year bowl ban for lack of institutional control. After an 0-2 start amidst these unprecedented sanctions, O'Brien rallied his team to win eight of the next ten games, exceeding all expectations. He learned resilience in the face of adversity from his ten-year-old son, Jack, who suffers from a debilitating brain disorder and fights to survive every day of his life. Andrea Kremer goes one-on-one with the 2012 National Coach of the Year and learns how his son's condition helped prepare him for the challenges he's encountered in turning around a program shattered by scandal.
Each year, around the anniversary of the 1995 terrorist bombing of the Murrah Building, Oklahoma City holds a marathon to honor the 168 people killed and the hundreds injured in the attack. This year's race occurred just two weeks after the Boston Marathon, where terrorists claimed three lives and injured more than 200, and participants honored those affected by that recent tragedy with donations and showed solidarity by wearing red socks. In this REAL SPORTS/Sports Illustrated collaboration, correspondent Mary Carillo meets several of the inspirational characters who have survived these tragedies and are taking strides - literally - toward healing.
On a recent Saturday afternoon in late April, Salt Lake City resident Ricardo Portillo was doing what he loved to do in his free time, refereeing a local soccer game. When the game became too physical, the longtime official made a typical call in what was up to that point a typical game, issuing a yellow card to a goalie. As he wrote down the player's name and number, the 17-year-old goalie allegedly threw a swift punch to Portillo's head. The 46-year-old collapsed, slipped into a coma shortly after, and died a week later. While it is extremely rare in the U.S. for an attack on a referee to result in death, physical assaults by players and coaches are happening at an alarming rate, and officials are receiving security escorts following events with increasing frequency. REAL SPORTS correspondent Jon Frankel sets out to discover why referees are so often faced with danger and what can be done to remedy the troubling trend.
The prized stallion Storm Cat was euthanized at Overbrook Farm in Lexington, Ky., due to complications of old age, on April 24, 2013. A descendant of Triple Crown winner Secretariat, he was once the most sought-after thoroughbred sire in horse racing, with his offspring earning more than $100 million at the tracks. Commanding a stud fee of $500,000 per session, Storm Cat brought his owners millions of dollars from eager breeders hoping to cash in on his proven genetic strength.
In the late 2000s, however, the recession hit the once-booming horse breeding industry particularly hard, resulting in much lower stud fees. After Storm Cat retired, attention turned to the engaging Zenyatta, who became the first filly to win the Breeder's Cup Classic in 2009. Unlike Storm Cat, Zenyatta does not get paid to reproduce, but her offspring are the most talked-about in the industry. In this REAL SPORTS update, correspondent Bernard Goldberg heads back to Kentucky to assess the changing landscape of horse breeding.