NEW YORK, NY (April 15, 2015) – This week’s Sports Illustrated features 21-year-old Masters Champion Jordan Spieth on the national cover, mimicking a cover shot seen 14 years ago as following Tiger Wood’s second masters victory. In an SI exclusive feature, Rex Ryan has brought new life – and new hope – to the Buffalo Bills and appears on one of this week’s regional covers. University of Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and the 10-time national champion Huskies goes on the record with Richard Deitsch with a firsthand tale of perfection, phone calls from the President and his NBA dream.
This issue also includes with NFL Draft Preview with 60 pages of NFL draft coverage to prepare for what promises to be a top notch year. Austin Murphy profiles pick between Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston for who should be the No. 1 pick. Coverage includes breakdowns by position – from wide receivers and running backs to tight ends and linemen. The issue closes with Ben Baskin’s draft laundry list and Chris Burke’s 2015 mock draft.
Jenny Vrentas: The Rex Effect
Rex Ryan’s arrival in Buffalo has turned the Bills’ franchise from a team agonizing over a 15-year playoff drought to one where the playoffs –and more – are already being promised. The reason behind this? None other than Rex Ryan.
Following a tumultuous ending with the Jets, Ryan has landed in Buffalo, infusing into the area traits that haven’t had since their Super Bowl heyday: personality, excitement and optimism. Ryan has only been the coach of the Bills for three months, but has already become the face of the franchise. He has won over the fans and the franchise’s legends – Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas – and his arrival has created an atmosphere of hope and faith. Described as a Buffalo guy at heart (he drives a pickup truck, drinks beer, wears a throwback jersey and had his Jets tattoo redone to fit the Bills) Ryan is already making bold predictions for the Bills, With a roster loaded with stars –including one, Lesean McCoy, that took only 30 minutes to acquire – they may come true.
Ryan on his last days with the Jets: “I wasn’t the boss anymore, I was just a guy. Whether they want to say it or not, all of a sudden I became less important to the team. They were trying to pull away from me, like it was my fault, somehow, that people identified the Jets with me, and that was a bad thing and not a good thing. I was just being who I was. From that point on I knew I wasn’t going to be long for that job.”
His expectations for Buffalo: “I want to win the damn Super Bowl, that’s what drives me. I don’t want to just be known as good. I want to be special. For our team, for our franchise here in Buffalo, that’s what we want.”
His feelings towards the Jets: “I want success for Woody Johnson, I do. But don’t kid yourself – we’re gonna try to kick the s— out of them when we bring our team in. We’re going to try to whip your ass. There are people in that organization who are going to be lifelong friends to me. But this is my damn football family.
Alan Shipnuck: Old School
Few records were left unchallenged as 21-year-old Jordan Spieth took his pure putting stroke and a maturity that exceeds his age to put on a show at Augusta National and stamp himself as America’s future star. His grip and swing may not be textbook, but 14 years after Tiger Woods won his second Masters, Spieth was rewriting the record book and etching his name into an exclusive club in the process.
“His composure is Bernhard Langer-like, which is incredible for 21. That’s his x-factor.” – Tour sage Geoff Ogilvy
“Jordan Spieth might be the perfect Texas pro: the focus and will of Hogan, the likeability of Nelson, and the putting stroke of Crenshaw.” – Dan Jenkins, dean of American sportswriters
Geno Auriemma (As told to Richard Deitsch): Leader of the pack
After winning his 10th title, Geno goes on the record to discuss John Wooden, his NBA fantasies and coaching perhaps the best women’s player ever. Speaking about texts from Gregg Popovich, jabs from the President, and the tradition of being carried off the court after a national championship, Geno gives us a look into his world, his 10 titles and his five perfect seasons.
“It’s interesting to me that people who have achieved great things and understand how hard it is to be really good at something are the first people to congratulate you.” – Auriemma
“I’m still excited and emotional about what I do. When the charge isn’t there anymore, then I’ll know it’s time to get out. But as long as it is, you’ll see me around the gym.” – Auriemma