2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Learned

Years from now, when people look back on 2010, what will they remember as the defining sports moment? Uh, they can only pick one? We discovered that Tiger Woods likes to play the field and that Brett Favre doesn’t mind sending pictures of his anatomy to hot sideline reporters via text message. We found out that LeBron listens to his friends a little too much and that Ben Roethlisberger needed a serious lesson in humility. But we also learned that athletes such as Michael Vick and Josh Hamilton haven’t blown second chance opportunities (or third and fourth chances in the case of Hamilton). It was also nice to see a certain pitcher turn down bigger money so that he can play in a city that he loves.

We’ve done our best to recap the year’s biggest sports stories, staying true to tradition by breaking our Year End Sports Review into three sections: What We Learned, What We Already Knew, and What We Think Might Happen. Up first are the things we learned in 2010, a list that’s littered with scandal, beasts, a Decision and yes, even a little Jenn Sterger.

Contributors: Anthony Stalter, John Paulsen, Paul Costanzo, Drew Ellis and Mike Farley

Tiger Woods gets around.

We hesitate to put this under “golf” because the only clubs involved were his wife’s nine-iron hitting the window of his SUV and the various establishments where Tiger wined and dined all of his mistresses…over a dozen in all. This was the biggest story of the early part of the year, but it got to the point that whenever a new alleged mistress came forward, the general public was like, “Yeah, we get it. Tiger screwed around on his wife. A lot.” He has spent the rest of the year attempting to rebuild his once-squeaky clean image, but it’s safe to say, we’ll never look at Tiger the same way.

Golfer Tiger Woods apologizes for irresponsible and selfish behavior during his first public statement to a small gathering of reporters and friends at the headquarters of the U.S. PGA Tour in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida,on February 19, 2010.   UPI/Sam Greenwood/Pool Photo via Newscom

LeBron wilts when his team needs him most.

Say the words “LeBron” and “Game 5” in the same sentence and NBA fans everywhere know exactly what you’re talking about. In the biggest game of the season, LeBron looked disinterested, going 3-of-14 from the field en route to a 120-88 blowout at home at the hands of the Celtics. There were rumors swirling about a possible relationship between LeBron’s mom and his teammate, Delonte West, and there’s speculation that LeBron got that news before tipoff and that’s why he played so poorly. Regardless of the cause, LeBron played awful in that game, and it turned out to be his swan song in Cleveland as a member of the Cavaliers. Talk about leaving a bitter taste.

You can auction off your talented son’s athletic abilities and get away with it.

The NCAA set a strange precedent this season while dealing with the Newton family. The always inconsistent and completely morally uncorrupt NCAA decided in its infinite wisdom that despite discovering that Cecil Newton shopped his son Cam to Mississippi State for $180,000, and that is a violation of NCAA rules, that Cam would still be eligible because it couldn’t be proven that he knew about it. Conference commissioners and athletic directors around the country spoke out about the decision, while agent-wannabes and greedy fathers everywhere had a light bulb go off in their own heads: As long as we say the player doesn’t know about it, it could go off without a hitch. What was Cecil’s punishment in this whole thing? Limited access to Auburn for the last two games of the season. Easy with that hammer there, NCAA. Read the rest of this entry »

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USC hires Lane Kiffin to replace Pete Carroll

In rather surprising news, USC has tabbed former Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin to fill the position vacated by Pete Carroll, who signed a contract over the weekend to coach the Seattle Seahawks.

From ESPN.com:

“We are really excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC,” Garrett said in a statement. “I was able to watch him closely when he was an assistant with us and what I saw was a bright, creative young coach who I thought would make an excellent head coach here if the opportunity ever arose. I’m confident he and his staff will keep USC football performing at the high level that we expect.”

He was a member of the USC coaching staff from 2001 to ’06, first as wide receivers coach and then as offensive coordinator under Carroll.

Kiffin will bring his father and defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, and assistant head coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron to Southern California with him.

The hiring is surprising, but what isn’t surprising is the way Kiffin left Tennessee after just one season. The fact of the matter is that college coaches come and go as they please. As long as there is more money and a bigger opportunity to be had, coaches will always be a threat to leave.

That said, it never ceases to amaze me that coaches can walk into a recruit’s home and talk about commitment, loyalty and family, and then leave a program at the drop of a hat. There is something incredible wrong with the process, but it has become such a norm that nobody is surprised by it anymore. As the clichéd response goes: It is what it is.

I wonder if some in Knoxville are secretly glad to see Kiffin go. He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way and never seemed like a great fit for UT. Considering he helped Carroll make USC’s program a success earlier this decade, it stands to reason that he will be a much better fit in Southern Cal, but we’ll see. It’ll also be exciting to see what Monte Kiffin can do with the talent he’ll have on the defensive side of the ball at SC.

This is pure conjecture on my part, but if I’m venturing a guess as to whom will replace Kiffin at Tennessee, I’d say Jon Gruden might be a great fit. He was a graduate assistant there from 1986 to 1987 and also met his wife at UT as well. If he wanted to take a crack at the collegiate level, Knoxville might just be a solid fit.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Carroll says move to Seattle not a result of USC probe

The Seahawks officially named Pete Carroll as their next head coach on Monday. While speaking to the media about his decision to leave USC, Carroll said that his pending move wasn’t in reaction to a possible probe that the Trojans’ program faces.

From ESPN.com:

“Not in any way,” Carroll told the newspaper. “Because I know where we stand. It’s just a process we have to go through. We know we’ve fought hard to do right.”

Carroll, a longtime coach and coordinator in the NFL before joining USC in 2000, said he had for a while “given up” on a return to the pro ranks.

“But it came out of nowhere,” he told the Times.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter first reported Saturday morning the Seahawks and Carroll had reached an agreement in principle.

“I’ve given everything I’ve had,” he said. “There was never going to be a good time.”

Carroll’s former quarterback and current Jet signal caller Mark Sanchez took a funny shot at his old head coach in the wake of Carroll leaving USC:

Report: Pete Carroll resigns at USC

According to ESPN.com, Pete Carroll resigned as the head coach of the USC Trojans on Sunday so he can take over the same position for the Seattle Seahawks. ESPN.com is also reporting that Carroll will take offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates with him to Seattle.

A source said Bates was tempted to be reunited with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, but the long-term security with Carroll was a major factor in his decision to join the Seahawks rather than the Bears. Bates was Cutler’s offensive coordinator with the Broncos in 2008.

Current Trojans said they had not heard the decision yet from Carroll, but heard about the Daily News report.

“Wow. Well, I’m not surprised,” junior running back Marc Tyler said to ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Ramona Shelburne. “I think by now most guys wanted it to hurry up and happen so we can see who is going to coach us next.”

Sophomore defensive end Malik Jackson said while he was a little surprised, he understands why Carroll is leaving.

“Wow, I can’t believe we’re one of those teams looking for a new coach,” Jackson told Shelburne. “I’d heard about it all weekend, but I’m still kind of surprised.

“I don’t blame him though. We all have to make decisions in our lives. If I could’ve said something that’d make him come back, I would’ve. But I’m not mad at him. He has to do what he thinks is best for himself. Everybody does.”

It must be rather jarring for USC players and those associated with the program that Carroll is leaving. He’s been a mainstay there since 2001 and I’m sure that people grew accustomed to him shooting down offers to re-join the NFL and figured he would never leave.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Vitale: Pete Carroll “beat the posse”

During the broadcast of the Georgetown/UConn game on ESPN, Dick Vitale commented on the report that Pete Carroll has signed a deal to coach the Seattle Seahawks.

“Well, you know, to me, he beat the posse. Posse coming after him down there, the NCAA. He takes the money, the program gets hurt in the future. I really have a problem with that. These guys go on, they leave the program, take their cash and run. Because, you know, the NCAA is still investigating them for Reggie Bush. And I just feel that he beat the posse, got his cash, and off he went.”

— Dick Vitale, during Georgetown/UConn broadcast (1/9/10)

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