2010 Year-End Sports Review: What We Think Will Happen

What do we think will happen in 2011? Ha! We’re glad you asked. As part of our 2010 Year End Sports Review, we see good things ahead for Duke, the Celtics and the Saints. We see cursed days ahead for the Phillies and Giants, and one Florida Gator-sized reunion in Denver. We also like Carmelo to play for the…hey, why are we telling you all this? Read for yourself below, lazy. (And have an open mind – we had some fun with this section.)

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

You think he’s gone? He’s not gone. He’s never gone!

Brett Favre has duped us before with his retirement talk, so why should we buy what he’s selling now? Lord Favre says 2010 will be his final season, but after spending a couple of months on his ranch next summer, he’ll get the itch to return. And some team will welcome him back. And the media will torture us with their 24-hour Favre watch. And the dreaded cycle of death will continue. So which lucky team will have No. 4 in uniform next season? While we wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Favre returning to the Vikings for one more year now that Brad Childress is gone, that’s not a very fun projection. Thus, what about Da Raaaaaaaiders? Huh? Can you see it now? Lord Favre and Al Davis at the podium holding up their pointer fingers and saying, “Just win baby.” No? Ah, you’re no fun.

Carmelo will be a Knickerbocker next year.

Book ‘em, Danno. The writing is on the wall. He hasn’t signed the three-year extension that the Nuggets offered last summer and has reportedly decided that the only team he’ll agree to be traded to is the New York Knicks. This means that if the Nuggets are hoping to get something substantial for him, they’ll have to move him before the February trade deadline. Since there appears to be only one team in the running, the deal isn’t going to be very good. We wouldn’t want to be Nugget fans right now — the rebuilding process is about to begin.

Notre Dame will go to a BCS bowl.

There isn’t a game on Notre Dame’s schedule that isn’t winnable — there are just a few that aren’t losable. If the Irish make the same kind of leap in Year Two with Brian Kelly that Central Michigan and Cincinnati did, 10 wins isn’t out of the question. And whether or not you think it’s fair, if you think all of the BCS bowls will pass on a 10-win Notre Dame team, you’re crazy. They’ll then go on to get blown out by a one-loss SEC team in the Sugar Bowl.

The New Orleans Saints will repeat as Super Bowl champions.

Even though their defense continues to be plagued by inconsistency, the Saints figure things out in the playoffs. They get a free win against the Rams in the Wild Card round of the playoffs and then head to Atlanta for the Divisional Round. The Saints, after purposely losing to the Falcons twice in the regular season when Garrett Hartley was forced to missed chip shot field goals that would have won the games for New Orleans, beat Atlanta on its home turf (the Saints bought into the old adage that it’s difficult to beat a team three times in one season, which is why they lost on purpose to set the Falcons up for defeat). In the NFC Championship Game, Drew Brees outguns Michael Vick in a 63-60 shootout and the Saints head to the Super Bowl to take on none other than Peyton Manning and the Colts (who somehow overcame all of their flaws and won three in a row in the playoffs). Then, as if it were déjà vu, the Saints once again get the better of Peyton and friends to become unlikely world champions. The city of New Orleans doesn’t stop partying until July.

Mariners trade King Felix to the Phillies to form what they call a “Super Rotation.”

Realizing they need a fifth starter to go along with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Roy Hamels, the Phillies trade every last prospect they have in Triple-A to the Mariners for Felix Hernandez. The media in Philadelphia quickly coin the phrase the “Super Rotation” and the Phillies go on to win every one of their games in April by a combined score of 192-5 (Cody Ross hits a solo home run off each of the starting pitchers in two separate series, comprising of the five runs allowed). Upon witnessing the “Super Rotation” for himself, Jeff Van Gundy claims that the Phillies will break the 2001 Mariners’ single-season record for most wins (116)…

…Jeff Van Gundy jinxes the Phillies.

“In fact,” Van Gundy says, “they won’t lose a game all year thanks to the Super Rotation!” Everyone starts buying into the Van Gundy’s prediction when the Phillies win their first seven games in May, too. “Man, that Van Gundy really knows what he’s talking about!” people will say. But shortly thereafter, people realize that Van Gundy does, in fact, know nothing about baseball and shouldn’t be commenting on the sport. Cody Ross comes back to town and single-handily lights up the “Super Rotation” for six home runs and 25 RBI and the Phillies never recover. They struggle to finish .500 and watch as the Nationals pass them in the standings. “How did this happen,” Lee asks. “It was that damn Jeff Van Gundy,” Halladay responds.

Duke will repeat.

Even without star freshman Kyrie Irving, who is out indefinitely with a toe injury, the Blue Devils are still the favorite to win the national championship. Nolan Smith and Seth Curry are more than capable of replacing most of Irving’s production, and while they could really use their star freshman’s playmaking ability, Duke won the title last year without it. Plus, Coach K made that deal with the devil, so there’s that.

The Big East will end in an eight-way tie with all teams at 5-7.

Is that possible? In the Big East, we sure it is, somehow. The BCS representative will be selected by an eight-man competition of the card game War, played by the school’s athletic directors. Rutgers will win the bid on a double-ace war, and the commissioner of the Fiesta Bowl will commit seppuku before the BCS selection show.

The Finals will be a Lakers/Celtics rematch, and the Celtics will pull out the tough win.

The more we look at this Miami Heat team, the more we wonder about their mental toughness. Dwyane Wade is all there, but what about LeBron and Chris Bosh? Are they going to hold up against a Boston Celtics team that seems to have the Ubuntu thing going again? And who is going to stop the Lakers in the West? We smell a rematch, and this time the C’s are going to come out on top when Pau Gasol’s body melts in the wake of Kevin Garnett’s sheer intensity.

Craig James will continue to be employed by ESPN.

And every Thursday and Saturday night, we’ll ask ourselves, “Why?”

Urban Meyer will reunite with Tim Tebow.

After months of searching for a head coach that would want to take on the massive project that is Tim Tebow, the Broncos strike out. Desperate, they reach out to the one man they know would drop trou in order to work with Tebow again: Urban Meyer. Even though his offense would never fly at the pro level, the Broncos hire Meyer anyway and to their surprise, he and Tebow take Denver to the top of the AFC West standings. After a grueling couple weeks of postseason play, the Broncos finally reach the Super Bowl and face Troy Smith and the 49ers. After Ted Ginn Jr. returns the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown, the Broncos completely shut down Smith and the Niner offense. Smith completes just 14 passes for 25 yards along with an interception and a fumble, all while being sacked five times. Tebow caps off Denver’s 41-14 victory with a 1-yard touchdown run and him and Meyer embrace each other in total jubilation. After the game Meyer is overheard telling Tebow, “Don’t you ever leave me again.”

The Nationals win the NL Wild Card.

After years of sixth-place finishes in the NL East, Jayson Werth helps the Nats secure a playoff berth after everyone laughed at him for signing with lowly Washington in the offseason. Upon reaching the playoffs, Werth boasts, “Me and my $126 million will be laughing all the way to the postseason suckas!” But Werth and the Nationals don’t stop celebrating through the NLDS and they get swept in Round 1. Embarrassed, Werth says, “I’m embarrassed.” The Nationals fail to recapture the same magic they had in 2011 and Werth is released following the 2012 season when he hits .063 with 11 RBI and one home run in 605 at bats.

Auburn is going to get hammered, on and off the field.

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and there’s a ton of smoke coming out of Auburn right now. (Almost more than Iowa.) Cam Newton is leaving, but the sins of his father will cause the NCAA to take action. That process will be expedited by the fact the FBI is involved. Oh, and Newton leaving will force the Tigers into regretting giving Gus Malzahn $1.3 million to stay on as a coordinator. Talk about putting all of your eggs in one basket. A basket that’s about to be smashed.

Josh McDaniels will be coaching Matt Ryan in 2011.

No, Mike Smith isn’t going anywhere – nor should he. McDaniels was a colossal bust in Denver as a head coach but his track record proves that he can run an offense. While the offensive coordinator for the Patriots from 2006 through 2008, New England never finished lower than 11th in total offense with McDaniels at the helm, which included the Pats’ record-setting ’07 season. Even though he had considerably less talent in Denver (thanks to his horrendous personnel moves), the Broncos’ offense still finished 15th in 2009. While he may not get another head coaching job anytime soon, it’s not a stretch to think he’ll resurface again as an offensive coordinator. And if Mike Mularkey winds up parlaying his success in Atlanta into another head coaching gig, the Falcons will need a new offensive coordinator next year. Why not McDaniels? Granted, the Falcons may want to hire someone from within to keep the framework of Mularkey’s offense intact for Matt Ryan. But it’s fun to imagine the possibility of GM Thomas Dimitroff (another former Patriots employee) hiring McDaniels to work with Ryan, Roddy White and Michael Turner next season.

Giants sign all the past World Series MVPs, finish dead last in the NL West.

After Edgar Renteria helped the Giants win their first World Series championship since moving to San Francisco, GM Brian Sabean (who has a major penchant for signing crusty old position players to go along with his young, star-studded pitching staff) gets a great idea to compile a team solely of previous World Series MVPs. He re-signs Renteria to a new three-year, $26 million contract then coaxes Mike Lowell out of retirement with a two-year, $23 million deal (“It was too good of a deal to pass up!” Lowell says) to play third base. Sabean trades catcher Buster Posey to the Padres for second baseman Daivd Eckstein and signs Jermaine Dye, Manny Ramirez and Hideki Matsui (we know he’s already signed with the A’s – stop sucking all the fun out of this and play along) to play the outfield. Needing a catcher, Sabean throws $10 million at 47-year-old Pat Borders to come out of retirement and then fills his bench with Troy Glaus, Scott Brosius and Paul Molitor (now 54). The Giants go on to average 0.5 runs per outing and mange to lose 150 games while shattering records of ineptitude. Worse yet, they’re in major payroll hell because of Sabean, but he’s retained anyway by co-owner Bill Neukom who says, “I saw Sabean’s vision and it was pure. Plus, the man won us a title in 2010 so I can’t get rid of him now!” FireSabeanNow websites reach an all-time high in August.

Rich Rodriguez will keep his job and do well in 2011.

Michigan’s number of returning starters combined with a very, very favorable schedule could equal nine or 10 wins for the Wolverines next year. That would be enough to get Rodriguez a fifth year, and take the heat off him as well. Of course, a 2012 schedule that will start with a complete butt-kicking at the hands of Alabama, a loss at a rejuvenated Notre Dame, and brutal late-season trips to Nebraska and Ohio State will put him right back on the hot seat. And by that time, Jim Harbaugh will be coaching the San Francisco 49ers, and the Wolverines will be arguing over whether or not they should hold onto Rodriguez or go with Tyrone Willingham, who will be coming off of two marginally successful seasons at Maryland.

The Yankees will miss the playoffs in 2011.

After failing to sign Cliff Lee and convincing Andy Pettitte not to retire, the Yankees desperately sign Carl Pavano against all fans’ wishes. He’s a disaster and his suck spreads like wildfire, infecting the rest of the rotation before it finally eats away at the Bombers’ offense. The Yankees miss the playoffs, the Red Sox go on to play in the World Series and the entire city of New York falls dark for 72-straight hours. All because of Carl Pavano.

Oregon will go undefeated again.

The Pac-12 will be less difficult than the Pac-10 was this year, as USC will continue to go downhill, and Stanford could be without Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh. The Oregon Duck mascot will also actually replace Lee Corso on Gameday, and nobody will notice.

GSP vs. Silva won’t take place until 2012.

The super-fight between Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva will be announced, but it likely won’t take place until Super Bowl Weekend of 2012. With a successful title defense for GSP in Toronto in April, and one, if not two, successful defenses by Silva prior to the summer, the fight will be planned and St. Pierre will have time to apply the weight he would like and prepare for his greatest test yet. When announced, this fight will be the biggest draw in MMA history and perform record numbers for pay per view television ratings.

Fathers will shop their sons even more – Cecil Newton style.

An overwhelming case of “negligence” will hit the NCAA, especially college football as parents will be free to shop their kid around to schools as long as their child is “unaware” that the activity is taking place. As long as there is no paper trail linking the parent with the actual winner of the sweepstakes, that kid is free to play without any sort of penalty. On a related note, the NCAA will crack down on players giving out or selling their jerseys to anyone, as they will increase the penalty to a full season per-jersey sale.

The NFL strike will turn fantasy football players into fantasy hockey players.

With a potential lockout looming, fantasy football players will have no choice but to turn their attention to fantasy hockey, quickly putting the struggling sport into a golden age in its history. Millions more fans will tune in each night to keep track of their players as they will need a fantasy fix since football will not be played on Sundays. To attempt to capitalize on the move, ESPN will strike a new television deal with the NHL, only to regret it a year later when the NFL returns and ESPN loses millions hand over first.

Jim Harbaugh isn’t going to be at Stanford forever.

Nothing against Stanford, but Harbaugh will land a bigger gig soon enough. Whether it’s Michigan or a position in the pros, he’ll have a new mailing address sometime in the near future. While what he’s done at Stanford is remarkable, the fact that the Cardinal cannot sell out their stadium week to week, or come near selling out their allotment of tickets to a BCS bowl (despite having a well spread out and wealthy alumni base), shows that Stanford just isn’t a top-notch job. Either his alma mater or the NFL will pull him away, and we really can’t blame him if he does decide to leave the West Coast.

Tiger will tap his inner “Office.”

Tiger Woods will win at least one major championship in 2011 and regain the top spot in the world rankings. Upon taking back the top spot he will say during an interview “It feels great to be back on top,” to which a young reporter will be unable to control himself and blurt out “That’s what she said.”

Urban Meyer will act as a consultant to Will Muschamp.

He’ll start by working in the athletic department and giving advice whenever Muschamp asks for it. By summer practice, he’ll be calling Muschamp every five minutes with gameplan ideas. By September, he’ll be sitting in the booth, sparingly using the headset to try and call plays. By October, Meyer will have taken over as the offensive coordinator — in his own mind, anyway, as Muschamp will give him a headset that doesn’t transmit anything, and has a loop of wired-up coaches from NFL Films running through the earphones. In November, Meyer will be on the field, attempting to send players into the game and mimicking Muschamp’s play calls. And finally, in December, Meyer will hi-jack a Muschamp press conference and announce that he is returning as Florida’s coach.

Blake Griffin will win the 2011 ROY.

Since he missed the entire 2009-10 season with a knee injury, Griffin is eligible to win the Rookie of the Year award this season. And with all due respect to John Wall (16.7 ppg, 8.9 apg), Griffin looks like he’s well on his way to winning the award. He’s averaging 20.7 points and 12.3 rebounds, while shooting 51% from the field. And he’s dunking on EVERYBODY. He’s a double-double machine, and even managed to score 44 points against the Knicks in October. Surprisingly, for a guy with his athletic ability, he’s not too adept at blocking shots (0.6 bpg), but that should come with time.

Cowher will replace Coughlin, Gruden will replace Singletary.

After the Giants suffer three fourth-quarter collapses in a row to finish out the 2010 season, the Giants fire Tom Coughlin and immediately throw one-billon dollars at Bill Cowher. After taking weeks to come to a decision, Cowher decides to accept their offer and takes over in the Big Apple. Meanwhile, the 49ers wrap up their evaluation into Mike Singletary and come to the conclusion that yep, the man doesn’t know a thing about being a real-life head coach in the NFL. Knowing they need to develop a quarterback, they hire Jon Gruden and give him complete control of the team. His first move is to sign free agent Jeff Garcia, who tells Gruden he’ll play for free as long as he’s the guaranteed starter. Gruden obliges and immediately the 49ers regret their decision. They also become incensed when Gruden re-hires Singletary to be his linebacker coach, but then settle down once they realize that’s where he should have remained this entire time.

LSU will win the national championship.

For the second straight year, the SEC will play Oregon in the national title game, and this time, it will get the win (yes, we’re predicting an Oregon win this year in the title game). Of course, since Les Miles is involved, this won’t be your average national title game. The Tigers will turn the ball over three times, but still win the game with a fake punt on a third down after taking a delay of game following a timeout.

Learned | Knew | Think

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