Best/Worst Sports Moments of 2013

For the fifth year in a row, I am publishing an account of my top 10 best and worst sports moments of the past year.  (Scroll down below for the 2012-2009 editions).  Keep in mind that these are given from a purely subjective viewpoint.  When I say “best/worst moments” I’m not talking about great or horrible sporting events.  I’m talking about moments that affected me the most positively or negatively.  Overall, this was a pretty solid sports year for me, so I enjoyed writing this article.

Best Moments:

1.  Andy Murray wins Wimbledon Men’s Championship (July 7, 2013)- Some years it takes me a while to decide what the top sports moment of the past 365 days has been.  This year the decision was an absolute no doubter.  That’s because my life goal # 4 was accomplished this July when Andy Murray ended the 77-year British drought and captured the Wimbledon Gentleman’s Singles Championship.  Before then, I had been blessed by God with three incredible sports moments in my life: Kentucky’s 1996 national championship, the New England Patriot’s first super bowl win, and Wake Forest’s 2006 ACC Football Championship.  Andy Murray’s 2013 Wimbledon Championship joined that exclusive club.  There are now only three major sporting events that could possibly bring me as much happiness as those.  They are (in order of personal significance): 1) seeing a 16 seed beat a 1 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament, 2) having Wake Forest win a national basketball or football championship, 3) seeing a Triple Crown winner in horse racing.

2.  Florida Gulf Coast becomes first 15 seed to make Sweet 16 (March 24, 2013)- Dunk City was one of the great early round Cinderella NCAA Tourney stories of all-time.  They had a charismatic coach with a supermodel wife and a cast of players who all seemed to be able to dunk like Michael Jordan and shoot like Larry Bird.

3.  South Carolina football stuns Missouri in Double Overtime (October 26, 2013)- Even though this game didn’t ultimately affect the SEC East title race, it was still awesome to see one of my favorite teams pull off a thrilling come-from-behind road overtime upset of a top 5 team.

4.  Wichita State makes Cinderella Run to Final Four (March 30, 2013)- If it wasn’t for FCGU (see moment # 2), the Shockers would have been the story of this year’s NCAA tournament.  It was really cool to be able to see this team play in person when I made my trip to my first final four this year in Atlanta.

5.  South Carolina football defeats Clemson for fifth-straight season (November 30, 2013)- Beating up on Clemson certainly isn’t new for the Gamecocks but it never gets old!  The only reason this isn’t higher on the list is that the sweetness of this victory was slightly dampened by the fact that Missouri beat Texas A & M minutes later to deny the Gamecocks the SEC East title.

6.  Oracle Team USA completes epic comeback to beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013 America’s Cup (September 25, 2013)- There may never have been a comeback like this in sports history!  The U.S. trailed by a score of eight races to one with nine races needed to clinch the cup.  Somehow, Oracle won the last 8 races to retain the cup.

7.  Justin Rose wins U.S. Open (June 16, 2013)- Rose has been one of my favorite golfers ever since he made his Cinderella run to a fourth place finish in the 1998 British Open as an amateur.  Ever since then, I have been waiting and hoping he would finally claim major championship glory.  That finally came this June with Rose’s U.S. Open victory.

8.  Wake Forest hires Dave Clawson as head football coach (December 9, 2013)– This is the only mention of my alma mater on this entire list, which just goes to show how stagnant the Wake athletic program has become.  Finally, the Deacs took what appears to be a step in the right direction by hiring Dave Clawson as their next head football coach.  The guy has succeeded, slowly but surely, everywhere he’s been, and here’s hoping his run continues in Winston-Salem.

9.  Adam Scott wins Masters Playoff over Angel Cabera (April 14, 2013)- The inclusion of this event on this list has as much to do with my hatred of Angel Cabrera as it does with my like of Adam Scott.  I’ve never been a huge Scott fan, but he’s just one of those guys I always hoped would breakthrough and win a major championship at some point in time.  For it to come in a dramatic playoff victory over Angel Cabrera, makes it extra sweet.

10.  Oxbow wins Preakness Stakes (May 18, 2013)- Rarely, if ever, will a Preakness Stakes be enjoyable for me when the Kentucky Derby winner fails to win and setup a Triple Crown opportunity.  However, Oxbow was my strong sentimental favorite for the Derby.  D. Wayne Lukas has always been my favorite trainer.  Stevens is one of my favorite jockeys.  And the Oxbow name brought back memories of my Theta Chi fraternity roots, where our Greek Alphabet name grew many comparisons to an Ox.

Worst Moments:

1.  South Carolina football loses to Georgia in SEC opener (September 7, 2013)- Most South Carolina fans would probably tell you that the loss to Tennessee hurt a lot more this year than their early season loss to Georgia, but I would disagree.  I expected at least one loss in South Carolina’s brutal three-game October road stand, but I didn’t expect the Gamecocks to get dominated by a team whom they had beaten the past three seasons.  This loss didn’t officially knock  South Carolina out of either the conference title race or even the national title race, but it became obvious during this game that the hype had gotten to Clowney and that this defense was vastly overrated.

2.  Courtroom 2 Patriots lose Fantasy Football Super Bowl to The Frozen Gophers (December 23, 2013)- Losing a fantasy super bowl hurts bad enough, but losing to a co-worker who is going to have bragging rights on you for the next year makes it even worse.

3.  Miami Heat wins second consecutive NBA championship (June 20, 2013)- It was just a matter of time before this heinous squad starting winning multiple championships, but the Spurs were so close to preventing this one for happening.

4.  SEC extends BCS National Championship streak to seven (January 7, 2013)- With Alabama’s dominance of Notre Dame last January, SEC elitism reached a whole new level.  Here’s hoping Florida State can end the streak in a few weeks.  Otherwise, that game will inevitably end up near the top of my 2014 worst sports moments list.

5.  Baltimore Ravens beat New England Patriots in AFC Championship Game (January 20, 2013)- Once again, my favorite pro sports team, the Patriots, looked poised to win a fourth Super Bowl in the Tom Brady era before falling short with an epic late season meltdown.  It’s unbelievable to think that it’s been nearly 10 years since this squad has won a world championship.

6.  Boston Bruins sweep Pittsburgh Penguins in Eastern Conference Finals (June 7, 2013)- The Penguins are my second-favorite hockey team and the Bruins are my second-least favorite.  So naturally when Boston swept Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference Finals to deny the Pens a Stanley Cup berth, I was quite unhappy.

7.  UCLA beats Mississippi State to win NCAA Baseball National Championship (June 25, 2013)- I am not a huge MSU fan or anything, but did you know the state of Mississippi has never won a consensus national championship in any sport… ever?  That streak continued thanks to a victory by a school that has won more than its fair share of national championships in basically every sport.

8.  Louisville wins NCAA Basketball National Championship (April 8, 2013)- I don’t despise the Cardinals as much as most Kentucky fans do, but they are definitely a rival who I didn’t want to see win this year’s basketball national title.  This moment would probably have been higher on the list if I hadn’t had such a good time watching the game as a spectator in Atlanta.

9.  North Carolina beats South Carolina in NCAA Baseball Super Regional (June 11, 2013)- The Gamecocks were denied a fourth-straight College World Series appearance as a result of the Tar Heels nail-biting victory over their interstate rival.  Fortunately, we got revenge in football.

10.  Japan beats United States in Little League World Series Championship Game (August  25, 2013)- The U.S. came close to winning this year’s edition of the Williamsport classic but they unfortunately fell just short.

Brad’s 12th Annual Mock 16 Team College Football Playoff

For the 12th straight season, I have created a mock college football playoff bracket based my proposed college football playoff system.  I know that a four-team playoff will emerge next season, but I’d like to think we can do better.  You will see below that 16 is clearly the magic number for the ideal college football playoff, as I will present to you the most comprehensive college football playoff proposal you will see anywhere.  Anyone that would like to see this playoff in an excel bracket format then just let me know, and I’ll send you a copy.

The Field: Florida State (ACC  Champ), UCF (AAC Champ), Michigan State (Big 10 Champ), Baylor (Big 12 Champ), Stanford (Pac-12 Champ), Auburn (SEC Champ), Fresno State (MWC Champ), Rice (C-USA Champ), Bowling Green (MAC Champ), UL-Lafayeete (Sun Belt Champ), Alabama (at-large, # 3 in BTS standings), Ohio State (at-large, # 7 in BTS standings), Missouri (at-large, # 8 in BTS standings), South Carolina (at-large, # 9 in BTS standings), Oregon (at-large, # 10 in BTS standings), Oklahoma (at-large, # 11 in BTS standings).

South Regional

(1) Florida State vs. (4) UL-Lafayette, Saturday December 14th- 12:00 (ESPN), Jacksonville, FL

(2) Missouri vs. (3) Oregon, Thursday December 12th- 8:00 (ESPN), Shreveport, LA

Winners play Saturday December 21st at 12:00 in Atlanta, GA (ABC)

West Regional

(1) Michigan State vs. (4) Fresno State, Saturday December 14th- 8:00 (ESPN), Honolulu, HI

(2) Stanford vs. (3) South Carolina, Saturday December 14th – 3:30 (ABC), San Francisco, CA

Winners play Saturday December 21st at 3:30 in Phoenix, AZ (ESPN)

East Regional

(1) Auburn vs. (4) Rice, Saturday December 14th- 12:00 (ABC), Birmingham, AL

(2) Ohio State vs. (3) Oklahoma, Saturday December 14th- 8:00 (ABC), New York, NY

Winners play Saturday December 21st at 8:00 in Orlando, FL (ABC)

Midwest  Regional

(1) Alabama vs. (4) Bowling Green, Saturday December 14th- 3:30 (ESPN), Fort Worth, TX

(2) Baylor vs. (3) UCF, Friday December 13th- 8:00 (ESPN), Boise, ID

Winners play Saturday December 24th at 3:30 in Arlington, TX (ABC)

Final Four/Championship

South Champ vs. West Champ, Saturday December 28th- 3:30 (ABC), New Orleans, LA

East Champ vs. Midwest Champ, Saturday December 28th- 8:00 (ABC), Miami, FL

Championship Game, Saturday Jan 4th- 8:00 (ABC), Pasadena, CA

Basic Format:

  • 16 teams (10 conference championships and 6 at-larges chosen by the top 6 in the BTS Standings, which is the functional equivalent to the BCS.  My rationale is for this is that it’s something computer/poll-related to keep the pro-BCS folks happy like “Adolph” Bill Hancock.)
  • 4 regions (teams seeded 1-4 based on committee)
  • Bowl sites will become tourney sites.  See further explanation below.
  • Selection Sunday will be held the day after conference championship day and the first game will be played two weeks after that or one week depending on how late regular season ends.
  • A couple of special stipulations are that two teams from the same conference can’t play in the same region, and each conference is limited to four total playoff teams.

Scheduling:

  • I’ve even drafted a mock game schedule that takes into consideration both the interests of the viewers and  television providers.  I’m going to assume that ABC/ESPN buy the rights to playoff coverage, since they have already purchased future BCS coverage rights.
  • Week 1 (First Round):  Game 1: Thursday 8:00- second best game of the week (ESPN);  Game 2: Friday 8:00- worst game of the week (ESPN); Games 3 and 4: Saturday 12:00- two non-west region games (ABC/ESPN split); Games 5 and 6: Saturday 3:30- two games of any type (ABC/ESPN split); Games 7 and 8: Saturday 8:00- game of the week is on ABC; ESPN has other game.
  • Week 2 (Elite 8): Game 1: Saturday 12:00- Third biggest game of the week but can’t be midwest/west regional final (ABC); Game 2: Saturday 3:30- Worst game of the week (ESPN); Game 3: Saturday 3:30- Second biggest game of the week (ABC); Game 4: Saturday 8:00- Featured game of the week (ABC).
  • Week 3 (Final Four): Game 1: Saturday 3:30- Second biggest game of the week (ABC); Game 2: Saturday 8:00- Featured game of the week (ABC).
  • Week 4 (Championship Game): Saturday 8:00 (ABC)

Playoff Sites:

  • Lower-tier bowl sites will become first round sites on a rotational basis.   
  • 2013: East- Birmingham, New York; South- Shreveport, Jacksonville; Midwest- Fort Worth, Boise; West- San Francisco, Boise. 2014: East- Charlotte, Detroit; South- Nashville, St. Petersburg; Midwest- El Paso, Dallas; West: Tempe, San Diego.  2015: East Regional- Mobile, Washington D.C.; South Regional- Memphis, Tampa; Midwest Regional- San Antonio, Houston; West Regional: Albuquerque, Las Vegas.
  •  The current semi-major bowl sites of Arlington (Cotton), San Diego (Holiday), Phoenix (Fiesta), and Atlanta (Chick-Fil-A) will be annual elite 8 sites.
  • The Final Four/Championship games will be held in Pasadena, New Orleans, and Miami.  The championship game will rotate between the 3 sites, and the two final four games will be played in the non-championship      cities.
  • Other notes: (1) New bowl sites coming into existence must replace old ones.  (2) The first-round sites that are off of the playoff rotation will still hold bowl games.  More explanation on that to follow.  (3) I do realize that the Fiesta Bowl and the city of Phoenix are going to feel they got screwed here, as they are being demoted from a current BCS site to an elite 8 playoff site.  They’ll just have to get over it because the Fiesta has without a doubt less tradition and prestige associated with it than the rest of the BCS bowls.

Remaining Bowl Games:

  • This is time where things get tricky, as I try to accommodate the rest of the bowl eligible teams who do not make the 16-team playoff.
  • There will be 16 bowl games held at all the first-round sites who are off  of the playoff rotation.
  • The names of the bowls can either change depending on which bowl is being played each year, or a bowl game can be played every year at different sites.  It doesn’t really make a difference to me.
  • The tie-ins for the bowls will try to replicate those for the current bowl games with the obvious omission of all tie-ins of conference champions.  Also, the number of bowl teams from each conference may fluctuate depending on how many teams it sends to the playoff in a particular season.
  • Overall, in this system there will be 48 1-A postseason teams (16 in playoff, 32 in bowls), which is much more reasonable than the current number of 70.  Honestly, by taking out some of the garbage teams who currently squeak into bowl games, I think this system will actually make the bowl games more meaningful and watchable.

Best/Worst Sports Moments of 2012

In honor of my best/worst sports moments of the year entry coming later this month, I am posting my annual recaps from 2009-2012.  Here is my 2012 entry:

Best Moments:

1.  Norfolk State and Lehigh pull off first round NCAA Tournament upsets (March 16, 2012)– My Facebook status from that day said it all, “Everybody has a moment… that moment where all of their life’s work, wishes, hopes, and dreams come together at once and all of your doubters are proved wrong.  For the past 20 years I have been the most obsessed NCAA tournament upset fan in the country.  I have religiously followed all the small conferences that no one else watches in hopes of being able to predict a major NCAA upset and maybe even see that team live.  Well, last week, with everyone laughing at me I drove from Greensboro to Winston-Salem to watch the MEAC Quarterfinals (by myself) just so that I could scout out a team called Norfolk State who I felt might actually be able to do something.  I went, I watched, and I said that very moment that this team will win a first round game if matched up against a squad without a dominant big man.  And sure enough they got matched up with Missouri, I picked Norfolk in all of my brackets and the rest is history.  The moral of the story is follow your dreams, believe in the impossible, and go to the MEAC Quarterfinals.  Merry Christmas everyone!”  In addition, an hour after making this post my least favorite team in all of sports (Duke basketball) fell in a 15 vs. 2 matchup against Lehigh.  Without a doubt, one of the greatest sports days of my life.

2.  Andy Murray wins Olympic Gold (August 5, 2012)– It wasn’t quite as special as if Murray had won the Championships at Wimbledon, but winning an Olympic gold on Centre Court was pretty darn close.

3.  Kentucky wins basketball national championship (April 2, 2012)– It wasn’t as sweet for me as Kentucky’s championships in either 1996 or 1998, but it was still my 2nd favorite basketball team winning its first national title in 14 years.  Most shocking of all, was the fact that this Calipari-led squad was universally likeable all season long.

4.  Andy Murray wins tennis U.S. Open (September 10, 2012) – A Brit still hasn’t won Wimbledon since 1936, but now a Brit has won a grand slam since Fred Perry did so 76 years ago.

5.  South Carolina football defeats Clemson for fourth-straight season (November 24, 2012)– This one had a special meeting because of a bet I made with a local judge who is a Clemson alum.  Loser had to wear to other team’s tie the next week in court.

6.  Webb Simpsons wins golf U.S. Open (June 17, 2012)– Not only is Simpson a fellow Wake Forest alum, but he was also a member of my graduation class.  This was my all-time favorite golf moment.

7.  I’ll Have Another wins Preakness Stakes (May 19, 2012)– Sometimes a sports moment becomes particularly special because of the setting where it is watched.  I watched this year’s Preakness at a bar in Charleston during the early stages of a good friend’s bachelor party.  All 5 of us (3 of whom weren’t horse racing fans at all) were screaming at the top of their lungs as I’ll Have Another and Bodemister battled to the wire.  It was probably my all-time favorite Preakness.

8.  South Carolina football blows out Georgia (October 6, 2012)– I attended this game in Columbia, SC, and it was probably the most raucous sports crowd I’ve ever been a part of.  This was a night no Gamecock fan will soon forget.

9.  Los Angeles Kings win Stanley Cup (June 11, 2012)– The Kings aren’t my favorite hockey team in the NHL.  In fact, they probably wouldn’t crack my top 5 list.  However, they were a lovable underdog who was easy to root for throughout the Stanley Cup Finals this past spring.

10.  Pete Weber wins bowling U.S. Open (February 26, 2012)– It’s quite rare for a bowling moment to have a profound effect on me or anyone else in the sporting world, but Weber has always been my favorite bowler and his reaction to his record-setting championship was stuff of legend.

Worst Moments:

1.  Andy Murray loses Wimbledon final (July 8, 2012)– This was the closest I’ve come in several years to accomplishing one of my four life goals (16 seed over a 1, Wake Forest national championship, triple crown in horse racing, Brit winning Wimbledon).  Murray still has a great chance at winning the Championships at some point in his career, but this loss still brought Murray, his family, myself, and all of Great Britain to tears.

2.  I’ll Have Another withdraws from Belmont Stakes (June 8, 2012)– Is it worse for a triple crown contender to not even get a chance to run the Belmont or lose in dramatic fashion like Silver Charm or Smarty Jones?  Not really sure, but this announcement was definitely heartbreaking.

3.  Oregon and Kansas State suffer simultaneous shocking defeats (November 17, 2012)– After Alabama’s loss to Texas A & M on November 10th, I was getting excited about the possibility of a non-SEC championship game pitting two teams with zero national championships between them and whom I both really liked.  In a matter of three hours, that dream came crashing down as both the Wildcats and Ducks suffered shocking Saturday night defeats

4.  Miami Heat wins NBA championship (June 21, 2012)– It was just a matter of time before this heinous squad starting winning championships.  Let’s just hope they don’t get too many more.

5.  New York Giants beat New England Patriots in Super Bowl (February 5, 2012)– I hate the Giants, and the Patriots are my favorite pro sports team.  Needless to say, this one hurt a lot.

6.  Boise State football loses opener to Michigan State (August 31, 2012)– College football just isn’t the same if Boise isn’t in the national title hunt.  Sadly, the Broncos title hopes were dashed as the clock struck midnight on the opening day of September this season.  Posting an 11-2 record in the midst of a rebuilding year still isn’t too bad.

7.  Andy Murray loses five-set marathon to Novak Djokovic in Aussie Open Semifinal (January 27, 2012) – This wasn’t the most heartbreaking Murray loss of 2012 (see moment # 1), but it certainly was his closest.

8.  Ohio loses heartbreaker to North Carolina in NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 (March 23, 2012) – The Bobcats came oh so close to being the lowest seed ever to knock off a # 1 seed this past March.  Their half courter at the end of regulation very well could have dropped, and Clark Kellogg’s reaction to his son’s defeat while broadcasting the Baylor-Xavier game was the most poignant moment of this year’s tournament

9.  United States chokes away Ryder Cup (September 30, 2012) – Epic meltdown… nothing else needs to be said here.

10.  South Carolina football gets pummeled by Florida (October 20, 2012) – The Gamecock’s best chance at both an SEC and national championship came crashing down in humiliating fashion.

Best/Worst Sports Moments of 2011

In honor of my best/worst sports moments of the year entry coming later this month, I am posting my annual recaps from 2009-2012.  Here is my 2011 entry:

Best Moments:

1.  Kentucky finally beats Tennessee in football (November 26, 2011)– The HIGHLIGHT OF MY 2011 COLLEGE FOOTBALL SEASON came in Lexington, KY in late November when Kentucky finally ended their record-setting 26 game losing streak to Tennessee.  I was literally three weeks in my mother’s womb the last time Kentucky beat the Vols, and I really thought that I may live my entire life as a Kentucky fan and never once be alive for a Wildcat victory over Tennessee.  As many of you know, my four life goals as a sports fan are to see:  (1) A 16 seed beat a 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, (2) Wake Forest win a football or basketball national championship, (3) a horse win the Triple Crown, and (4) a British tennis player win Wimbledon.  Well, a couple of years ago I started an auxiliary list of secondary goals which included things like seeing: (1) a non-AQ team win an undisputed football national championship, (2) a senior PGA tour player win a golf major, and (3) Kentucky beat Tennessee in football.  These secondary milestones aren’t quite as important as the big four, but they are still things that would be the icing on the cake to a great life as a sports fan.  Well one of those items can officially be checked off the list as the Wildcats beat the Volunteers in an ugly 10-7 slugfest.

2.  Wake Forest plays in the Music City Bowl (December 30, 2011)- I am writing this column prior to this bowl game, but even in Wake does lose to Mississippi State then this moment still ranks near the top of this list.  This is the one bowl game with an ACC tie-in that I have always wanted Wake Forest to play in, and I am absolutely elated that they got a bid into it this season.  I will be the first to admit that Virginia Tech had no business getting a BCS at-large bid, but I am so glad they did because otherwise the Deacs would be stuck in Shreveport for the holidays.

3.  Greensboro Grasshoppers win South Atlantic League Championship (September 17, 2011) – Got to give a plug to my local minor league team who won their first league title since 1982 this season.  Just like the St. Louis Cardinals, the Hoppers were a strike away from losing the championship series before coming back to win it all in the deciding game.  To even get to the league playoffs, the Hoppers had to win 11 out of their last 12 regular season games.  It was purely stuff of legend.

4.  South Carolina wins second-straight NCAA Baseball National Championship (June 28, 2011)– I must admit that the first championship is always the best and most memorable, but this one ranks right up there given the dramatic way this Gamecock team won most of its tourney games.

5.  Boise State beats Georgia in College Football Season Opener (September 3, 2011)- Two of my top three favorite college teams (Kentucky and South Carolina) play in the SEC, but I hate the SEC hype just as much as anyone.  That’s why I am so glad that the Broncos went down south and shut up all the SEC Supremacists with their dominant road win over Georgia.  After this game, the immediate response we heard from BCS Elitists is how Georgia really wasn’t a very good SEC team.  Well that argument clearly fell through after the Dawgs won the Eastern Division and led # 1 ranked LSU at halftime of the SEC Championship Game a couple of weekends ago.

6.  Dallas Mavericks beat Miami Heat in NBA Finals (June 12, 2011)- The Mavs have always been one of my top 4 or 5 favorite teams in the NBA thanks to their charismatic owner Mark Cuban.  Thus, it was great to see them finally win a championship, but it was even better to see them do it against the evil Lebron James and his Miami Heat.

7.  Morehead State upsets Louisville in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament (March 17, 2011)-  I live for the first round NCAA Tournament upset, but this one was particularly satisfying in that it involved a mid-major from Kentucky beating one of my most hated sports rivals.

8.  South Carolina beats Clemson (November 26, 2011)– The Gamecocks have now won an unprecedented three straight over their in-state rival.  I have to admit that it kind of sucks the Tigers got into a BCS Bowl, but at least it’s the worst BCS bowl of all-time (see my bowl rankings below).

9.  Jimmer Fredette gets drafted by Sacramento Kings (June 23, 2011)– The Jimmer gradually became one of my favorite athletes in the world throughout last year’s college basketball season.  I was planning to adopt whichever organization drafted him as my new favorite NBA team, as long as it was a squad who met all of my underdog criteria (never won a championship, small-market, not many fans, etc).  My dreams came true when the Sacramento Kings, the ultimate NBA dark horse, selected Jimmer with the 10th overall pick in this year’s draft.  Now I just have to decide whether I want to shell out the big bucks and order NBA League Pass to see him play all season.

10.  Mike Leach gets hired as Washington State Head Coach (November 30, 2011)- After a two year hiatus, my favorite coach in sports has a job again and this time it’s in Pullman, WA.  I think this is a great fit all around, and I’ll have no problem switching my Pac-12 allegiances from Arizona State to Wazzu.

Worst Moments:

1.  Nightmare Saturday (November 12, 2011)- Last year, the worst day of the season for me was the Friday after Thanksgiving when Auburn came back to beat Alabama, Oregon stomped Arizona, and Boise State lost a heartbreaker to Nevada.  This year on the second Saturday in November I sat through an even more disheartening day of college football.  It all began at noon when my beloved Wake Forest Demon Deacons lost a heartbreaker to Clemson to fall just short of an improbable ACC Atlantic title.  After that, I had to watch as Georgia ended South Carolina’s hopes of winning a second straight SEC East title.  Then the lowlight of the day took place as Boise State lost its chance at a national title with a gut-wrenching loss to TCU.  It was utterly demoralizing to realize that the Broncos weren’t going to get a shot at the national title, but I decided that I would just have to cheer for Stanford to get there instead.  After all, they are the ultimate antithesis of the SEC and all the corruption and stupidity it represents.  Well, four hours later Oregon dashed the Cardinal’s national title hopes and left me and my entire life in complete disarray.  One of my friends texted me after the Boise game and said simply, “Not your day man.”  That’s a pretty good summation of November 12th, as I can’t even fathom what a worse 24 hours of sports would look like.

2.  Auburn and Scam Newton win BCS National Title (January 10, 2011)– Despite my desperate prayers for Newton and Auburn to fall short of the national title, it wasn’t meant to be.  An Auburn team that should have lost 3-5 games last season squeaked out a tight one over Oregon to win the crystal trophy.  Their title game victory was particularly cheap because the Tigers won it on a fluke play. On the game’s final drive, the Oregon defense stopped playing after Auburn’s Michael Dyer appeared to be tackled following a short gain.  In fact, Dyer’s knee never hit the ground, so he was able to get up and bolt into Oregon territory to set up the game winning field goal.

3.  UConn knocks off Butler in NCAA Basketball National Championship Game (April 4, 2011)- I loved and cherished every minute of both of Butler’s magical runs to the national title game.  Nevertheless, it was utterly demoralizing to see the Bulldogs fall just short of the ultimate prize for a second straight season.  This year’s run was even more astonishing than the 2010 edition because the Bulldogs entered the tourney as an eight seed.  After five impressive and victories, Butler became just the second eight seed ever to advance to the national championship game.  The first was of course Villanova who shot over 80% en route to their shocking title game victory over Georgetown in 1985.  The Bulldogs, however, managed to shoot a mere 18.8% in their 12-point loss to UConn.  If only Butler had access to that cocaine Nova’s players were snorting prior to their ’85 title game…

4.  Rafael Nadal beats Andy Murray in Wimbledon Semifinals (July 1, 2011)- Another year without a Brit taking home the Wimbledon title.  This loss was even more upsetting than Murray’s past semifinal defeats because he actually looked in control of the match for the first set and a half.

5.  Rematch Announced for BCS National Championship Game (December 4, 2011)– Oklahoma State’s huge victory over Oklahoma gave me and other college sports’ fans a final glimmer of hope that we might be able to avoid the horrifying scenario of having a rematch of a 9-6 regular season game decide college football’s mythical national champion.  The BCS Elitists and SEC Supremacists wouldn’t allow it however, and in the end we got stuck with the biggest joke of a title game anyone could ever imagine.  Here are just a couple of stats for you to consider as you prepare for this abomination of a title game: (1) if Alabama wins the national championship, they will have the worst non-conference wins of any national champion in any college sport ever!  (2) This is also the first time there has been a national title game between two offenses who rank in the bottom half of FBS in passing.

6.  Joe Paterno Gets Fired as Penn State Head Coach (November 9, 2011)– The whole Penn State sex scandal was so sad on so many levels.  I have always been a big Paterno fan and still believe he should have been given a chance to finish the season as head coach.  Nevertheless, Joe Pa’s epic 46-year tenure as Penn State head coach came to an end when he was fired just a game after he passing Eddie Robinson as the winningest coach in this history of Division 1 Football.

7.  Boston Bruins win Stanley Cup (June 15, 2011)- Not another championship for Boston!  I really wanted to see Vancouver get its first-ever championship as well.  Can’t believe Canada still hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1993.

8.  Texas Rangers choke away World Series (October 27-28, 2011)- It’s unfathomable that a team could come a strike away from clinching the World Series on two different occasions in Game Six and then go on to lose the series in 7.  The Rangers aren’t my favorite team or anything, but I love most any squad who has never won a championship before.

9.  U.S. Women’s Soccer Team loses World Cup Final to Japan (July 17, 2011)– The Women’s World Cup team took us on quite a ride this summer, but they couldn’t close the deal against Japan.  This loss was particularly heartbreaking given that the U.S. held a second half lead on two occasions before eventually falling in penalty kicks.

10.  Dustin Johnson loses British Open (July 17, 2011)- This choke job pales in comparison to the other golf heartbreaks I’ve experienced in recent years, especially in the British Open.  Still, I really thought this could be the major that Dustin Johnson would finally breakthrough and win.  And yes you read that correctly… my worst moments # 9 and 10 both occurred on the exact same day.  It’s pretty amazing I passed the bar exam considering such a horrible day took place just nine days before the test.

Here’s to a wonderful 2012 full of a great sports moments for everybody!

 

 

Best/Worst Sports Moments of 2010

In honor of my best/worst sports moments of the year entry coming later this month, I am posting my annual recaps from 2009-2012.  Here is my 2010 entry:

Last year in this entry, I ranted and raved about how bad my sports year had been.  This year was better, but it had the potential to be amazing.  It can be called the year of the near-miss.  Once again Andy Murray fell just short of winning Wimbledon.  Butler almost shocked the world and beat Duke.  A non-AQ team came within a hair of making the BCS title game.  And my South Carolina boy Dustin Johnson should have won two majors but instead won zero.  Nevertheless, I did have my fair share of good moments, and I have listed my 10 best and 10 worst below.  Keep in mind that these are given from a purely subjective viewpoint.  When I say “best/worst moments” I’m not talking about great or horrible sporting events.  I’m talking about moments that affected me the most positively or negatively.

Best Moments:

1.  South Carolina wins NCAA Baseball Championship (June 29, 2010)– The Gamecocks finally won a national championship in a major sport!  I know it’s not basketball or football, but we’ll take it.

2.  Wake Forest upsets Texas in NCAA Tournament (March 18, 2010)- This was probably the most hysterically happy I have ever become while attending a sporting event.  When Ish’s buzzer beater went in, I threw off my Screamin’ Demons shirt and ran around the concourse of New Orleans arena screaming uncontrollably.  I’ve always wanted one of my teams to hit a shot that would be featured in “One Shining Moment” and it happened this past March March.  This moment would probably be # 1 on this list had we not gotten beat by 30 points just two days later again Kentucky (see worst moments list below).

3.  South Carolina football beats Alabama (October 9, 2010)- 2010 officially became the year of the Gamecock when South Carolina beat the # 1 ranked football team after previously beating the # 1 ranked basketball and baseball teams earlier in the year.  This was one of the most exciting and exhilarating non-Wake Forest games I have ever attended.

 4.  Alabama wins BCS National Championship (January 7, 2010)– Yeah I really wanted Boise to win this BCS Title, but the next best thing was seeing my Mom’s alma mater take home their first title in years by beating an obnoxious Texas team.

5.  South Carolina football beats Florida (November 13, 2010)- All Gamecock football fans really ever asked for was some kind of championship, even it was something as simple as a division title. With South Carolina’s resounding victory at Florida, Spurrier finally delivered a championship (of sorts) to Columbia.

6.  Saints win Super Bowl (February 7, 2010)- “Who dat say they going to beat them Saints?  Who dat?  Who dat?”  It was just awesome to see the NFL’s historically worst franchise take home a title.

7.  Butler’s Final Four win over Michigan State (April 3, 2010)- Even though the clock eventually struck midnight on the Bulldog’s Cinderella tourney run, this was one of the great sentimental storylines in tournament history.  See this column I wrote last March for all the reasons why:  https://sportsentiment.com/2010/04/02/butler-greatest-final-four-story-of-all-time/

 8.  Boise State beats Virginia Tech (September 6, 2010)- I guess when all was said and done this game didn’t really mean a whole lot as the Hokies ended up making a BCS Bowl, while Boise did not.  Nevertheless, it was an incredible game (the college football game of the year in my opinion) that certainly provided additional evidence that the non-AQ powerhouses are better than their BCS conference counterparts.

9.  Isner-Mahut tennis marathon (June 24, 2010)– It was one of the most surreal things you will ever see in sports, and it may not happen again.  Isner’s 70-68 first round Wimbledon victory over Nicolas Mahut was particularly gratifying for me because he is a Greensboro, NC native, which is currently my hometown. Also, the fact that this match was going on at the exact same time as the U.S. Soccer World Cup buzzer beater (also featured on this list) is truly extraordinary.

10.  U.S. Soccer buzzer beater over Algeria (June 23, 2010)- I’ve never seen a buzzer beater in soccer, especially one with such huge implications.

Worst Moments:

1.  Black Friday of Football (November 26, 2010)- The day after Thanksgiving was the worst triple-header of games I’ve ever seen.  Going into the day, either Oregon or Auburn needed to lose and Boise needed to win, for the Broncos to basically clinch a national title game berth.  And at halftime of all three games, the team that I was cheering for had the lead.  In fact, two of those teams, Boise and Auburn, had seemingly insurmountable 24-7 leads.  However, one-by-one all three games took disastrous turns culminating in Kyle Brotzman’s choke job against Nevada.  Just the kind of day that makes you wish you weren’t a sports fan and makes you question whether or not there actually is a higher power out there that has control of what happens on the field.

2.  Duke beats Butler to win NCAA Basketball National Championship (April 5, 2010)- If only that shot went in…

 3.  Dustin Johnson’s PGA Championship loss (August 15, 2010)- I’m not including Johnson’s choke loss at the U.S. Open because I think everyone saw it coming.  However, the PGA Championship screw job, where he was penalized two strokes for grounding his club in an imaginary bunker, was absolutely disheartening.  This was the ultimate example of why golf is an elitist, nonsensical game that is about as much of a sport as beer pong.  After this disaster, which was my 6th heart-breaking golf loss in the past three years,  I decided that I will not watch another golf tournament until someone I like actually wins a major  And as we enter 2011, I stand firmly behind my boycott.

 4.  Auburn destroys South Carolina in SEC Title Game (December 4, 2010)- Auburn’s last two games of the season are on this list (see worst moment # 1), and if Oregon loses the title game in hearbreaking fashion, then that game will likely make next year’s worst moment list.

 5.  Rafael Nadal beats Andy Murray in Wimbledon Semifinals (July 2, 2010)- Another year without a Brit taking home the Wimbledon title..

6.  Kentucky destroys Wake Forest in NCAA basketball tournament (March 20, 2010)- This was a really tough situation for me because I grew up a Kentucky fan but then to college at Wake Forest.  However, my commitment level to the Cats dropped significantly after they hired the inherently corrupt John Calipari as head coach, so as a result, my allegiances rested firmly with Wake in this game.  I even held up a sign that said “The Wall Will Fall Tonight”.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t hold up the sign for very long as the Deacons got beaten down like they were a bad 16-seed.

 7.  Kentucky football loses to Tennessee… again (November 27, 2010)- Will this streak ever end?  I’m really not sure becaust Tennessee isn’t going to be this bad for much longer, and Kentucky isn’t going to get much better than they are now.

8.  L.A. Lakers win NBA Championship (June 17, 2010)- It’s never a good thing when your least favorite team in a particular sport wins  the league championship.

 9.  U.S. Soccer loss to Ghana (June 26, 2010)- We were definitely outplayed in this one, but it was still sad to see us lose in such dramatic fashion.

 10.  Lebron James moves to Miami (July 8, 2010)- I’m not a crazy Cleveland fan or anything, but it was sad to see a player tarnish his legacy by basically saying the only way I can win a title is if I get a dream to team to help me.

 

Brad’s 2013 College Football Bowl Projections

Date Bowl Teams Time Channel
Dec. 21 New Mexico San Diego State Arizona 2:00 ESPN
Dec. 21 Las Vegas Fresno State Southern California 3:30 ABC
Dec. 21 Famous Idaho Potato Colorado State Buffalo 5:30 ESPN
Dec. 21 New Orleans UL-Lafayette Tulane 9:00 ESPN
Dec. 23 Beef O’Brady’s Rutgers East Carolina 2:00 ESPN
Dec. 24 Hawaii San Jose State Rice 8:00 ESPN
Dec. 26 Little Caesars Ball State Maryland 6:00 ESPN
Dec. 26 Poinsettia Boise State Toledo 9:30 ESPN
Dec. 27 Military Pittsburgh Middle Tennessee 2:30 ESPN
Dec. 27 Texas Michigan Texas Tech 6:00 ESPN
Dec. 27 Kraft Fight Hunger Washington Brigham Young 9:30 ESPN
Dec. 28 Pinstripe Cincinnati Syracuse 12:00 ESPN
Dec. 28 Belk Louisville North Carolina 3:20 ESPN
Dec. 28 Russell Athletic Notre Dame Miami-FL 6:45 ESPN
Dec. 28 Buffalo Wild Wings Oklahoma Minnesota 10:15 ESPN
Dec. 30 Armed Forces Utah State Navy 11:45 ESPN
Dec. 30 Music City Georgia Tech Ole Miss 3:15 ESPN
Dec. 30 Alamo Baylor Oregon 6:45 ESPN
Dec. 30 Holiday Kansas State Arizona State 10:15 ESPN
Dec. 31 AdvoCare V100 Washington State Boston College 12:30 ESPN
Dec. 31 Sun Bowl Duke UCLA 2:00 CBS
Dec. 31 Liberty Bowl Mississippi State Marshall 4:00 ESPN
Dec. 31 Chick-fil-a Virginia Tech Georgia 8:00 ESPN
Jan. 1 Heart of Dallas North Texas Oregon State 12:00 ESPNU
Jan. 1 Gator Iowa LSU 12:00 ESPN 2
Jan. 1 Capital One Wisconsin South Carolina 1:00 ABC
Jan. 1 Outback Nebraska Texas A & M 1:00 ESPN
Jan. 1 Rose Michigan State Stanford 5:00 ESPN
Jan. 1 Fiesta Oklahoma State Northern Illinois 8:30 ESPN
Jan. 2 Sugar Auburn UCF 8:30 ESPN
Jan. 3 Orange Clemson Alabama 8:30 ESPN
Jan. 3 Cotton Bowl Missouri Texas 7:30 FOX
Jan. 4 BBVA Compass Houston Vanderbilt 1:00 ESPN
Jan. 5 Godaddy.com Troy Bowling Green 9:00 ESPN
Jan. 6 National Title Game Florida State Ohio State 8:30 ESPN

Best/Worst Sports Moments of 2009

In honor of my best/worst sports moments of the year entry coming later this month, I am posting my annual recaps from 2009-2012.  Here is my 2009 entry:

To say it bluntly, 2009  has been a very bad sports year for me.  I’d actually go out on a limb and say that it’s my worst since I began following sports in 1991.  There were very few historic upsets/Cinderellas, and all of my favorite teams lost while most of my least favorites won.  In fact, it was so bad that I had to alter my plan of giving you my 10 best moments of the year alongside my 10 worst moments.  I could only come up with five positive sporting occurrences from the past year, so that will have to suffice.  Please note that unlike the next column I plan to write these are given from a purely subjective viewpoint.  When I say “best/worst moments” I’m not talking about great or horrible sporting events.  I’m talking about moments that affected me the most positively or negatively.

Best Moments:

1.  Alabama wins SEC Football Championship (December 5, 2009)-I don’t know which was more satisfying here: seeing the Tide win its first conference championship in over a decade or seeing Tebow cry like a baby after getting shut down for four quarters.  Either way, this was a truly gratifying experience.  If only Bama could now play the opponent that deserves to be there (TCU) in the game undeservedly called the BCS National Championship Game.

2.  Prairie View A & M wins SWAC Football Championship (December 12, 2009)– Another football conference championship game that had a deep personal significance to me.  Prairie View was arguably the root of my sports sentimentalism in the 1990s.  I followed this team from week-to-week as they tried to end their record losing streak.  Finally after 80 losses, they beat Langston 14-12 giving me a new dream that maybe one day they could come back and win a championship.  That dream was finally realized a few weeks ago.

3.  South Carolina beats Clemson (November 28, 2009)– Always great to see one of your football teams get a rare win over their archrival.  I was there the last time it happened at Williams-Brice in 2001, and I was fortunate enough to be there for it this year as well.

4.  Wake Forest basketball beats UNC/Duke (January 11/28, 2009)- While I’ll always be the first to acknowledge that the college basketball regular season is largely overrated, I had to dig deep here to fill up this list.  I therefore thought by combing these two home wins over top 3 teams the result would be significant enough to deserve inclusion in these rankings.  I also got to personally storm the court in both of these games which is always a plus.

5.  George Mason beats Towson in Colonial Bball Tourney Semifinal (February 28, 2009) – I know you probably just read that and laughed, but this was the game that finally brought me to the magical $20.00 mark on CentSports.

Worst Moments:

1.  Tom Watson loses British Open in playoff (July 19, 2009)-It’s time to bring back the many painful memories from the past 365 days, and there was no doubt in my mind which moment would be crowned the absolute worst.  This one still hurts me.  Most golf fans are probably over this and have moved on with their lives, but I haven’t.  In fact, if I end up making bad grades this semester in law school, then I’m blaming it on the post traumatic stress from this nightmarish event.  We were within minutes of the most unbelievable sporting upset of my lifetime.  In fact, this was likely going to rival the Miracle on Ice as the most amazing Cinderella story of all-time.  A man born in the 1940′s was about to win a major championship in 2009! It defied human logic.  It was going to be God’s gift to the sporting world.  Then after a painful meltdown on the 72nd hole, Watson was smoked by Stewart Cink in a playoff.  Let’s not forget that Cink had to make a lengthy birdie putt on 18 to even have a chance to capitalize from Watson’s collapse.  It was if the Soviets scored a goal in the final seconds of their 1980 hockey game with the Americans and then blasted them in OT.  This moment along with the 1992 Duke-Kentucky game and my # 2 moment below stand out as the worst losses in my lifetime.

2.  Kenny Perry loses The Masters in a playoff (April 12, 2009)-  I also thought that this golfing miracle was going to happen.  Unlike Watson, Kenny Perry had two holes to nail down a single par for the championship.  Unfortunately, back-to-back bogeys setup a three-way playoff won by Angel Cabrera (the worst golfer ever to win two majors).  This loss actually felt a lot like the 1992 UK-Duke game just because of Perry’s Kentucky connection, which was the main reason why he was one of my favorite golfers.  The Watson-Perry losses prove that golf is by far the cruelest of all games, and while I believe that God has an active influence in creating most games/sports we play today, I’m not sure if Satan didn’t have his hand in creating the game of golf.  Who else would come up with a “sport” that fools people into thinking they are exercising while at the same time allows for a 12-time adulterer to dominate the game for over a decade.  Anyway, enough with the rambling.  The only positive takeaway here is that, unlike Watson, Perry may still have a chance to win a major championship somewhere down the line.

3.  Cleveland State upsets Wake Forest (March 20, 2009)-This actually might have been # 1 or 2 if it hadn’t of been such a blowout.  Midway through the second half this thing was over.   As a person whose existence revolves around the first round NCAA tournament upsets, it’s my worst nightmare to have my Alma Mater be the only high seed to lose in the first round, which begs the question of why does my school have to be by far the worst NCAA tournament team of all-time?  I honestly hope they never earn a # 1 seed because I’m pretty sure they’d become the first to lose to a 16.

4.  Andy Murray loses to Andy Roddick in Wimbledon semifinal (July 3, 2009)-The Queen was set to come to Centre Court for the first-time in 30 years.  A Brit finally had a very good chance to win Wimbledon and was at the very least set to become the first British finalist since Fred Perry.  Then Andy Roddick’s big serve proved too much for Murray and another upset of one of my favorite players/teams was realized.  The worst part about it all is that Roddick almost beat Federer two days later, which leads me to believe that Murray had a real shot to win the title.  Oh well, Andy will hopefully have several more chances to help me accomplish my # 4 goal in life, which is to see a Brit win Wimbledon.

5.  North Carolina wins NCAA basketball national championship (April 6, 2009)- This was pretty much a foregone conclusion before last year’s basketball season started, but several regular season losses gave me a glimmer of hope that this squad wouldn’t win another national title.  Unfortunately, the Heels  cruised through the Big Dance in what was probably the worst NCAA tourney of my lifetime.

6.  Kentucky hires John Calipari as head basketball coach (March 31, 2009)-I brought up my church analogy then, and I’ll use it again now.  Kentucky basketball is considered by many as a religion.  So therefore what do you do when the church you’ve loved for 20 years hires a crook as its preacher.  This is the dilemma I’ve been faced with ever since this hiring was announced.  I’m not sure who I was most upset with about this hiring: Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart for single-handedly trying to drive the Kentucky basketball program in the ground or the hardcore Kentucky fans who set aside their moral values and embraced a “win it all costs” mentality that I had never seen in Lexington before.   Yes, the Cats are off to a great start this year, and they probably aren’t quite as thug looking/acting as I expected, but until Coach Cal wins a final four that isn’t vacated, then I’ll be a consistent skeptic.  Also, notice how my # 2, # 5, and # 6 events all took place within a 2 week span.  Talk about a horrible fortnight.

7.  Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl (February 1, 2009)- In what has become a consistent theme in my sports world, this was yet another example of my most hated team in a particular sport winning a championship against a great underdog opponent.  Yuck!

8.  Los Angeles Lakers win the NBA Championship (June 14, 2009)- See description above.

9.  Kentucky football loses to Tennessee… again (November 28, 2009)-The reason this isn’t higher on the list is because by this time of the year, I had come to the realization that any close game that I had a deep, personal interest in was going to end up as a loss.  Therefore, this overtime defeat wasn’t nearly as devastating as others, since I had already come to grips the ultimate outcome.  Still, this was Kentucky’s best chance to beat Tennessee in several years, and they might not have another shot like it for a while.  Their 25-game losing streak isn’t going to end in Neyland next year, and Tennessee’s program seems to be on the rise while Kentucky’s has assuredly reached its ceiling.

10.  Florida beats Oklahoma in BCS Title Game (January 8, 2009)-  The only reason this isn’t higher is that I didn’t really want Oklahoma to win the national title either.  I was hoping for a game that was so ugly that Utah could garner enough support to earn a split championship.  Unfortunately, that didn’t quite happen and we were all forced to watch Tebow and Meyer celebrate another national championship together.