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.

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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Iowa star receiver Johnson-Koulianos arrested on drug charges

IOWA CITY, IA - NOVEMBER 8: Wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos #15 of the Iowa Hawkeyes scores a touchdown in the third quarter of play as Anthony Scirrotto #7 of the Penn State Nittany Lions defends on the play at Kinnick Stadium on November 8, 2008 in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa defeated Penn State 24-23. (Photo by David K Purdy/Getty Images)

Derrell Johnson-Koulianos just took a sledgehammer to his NFL career.

Iowa’s all-time leading receiver was arrested on drug charges on Wednesday and has been accused of “keeping a drug house” at his home several blocks from campus. He’s also being charged with possession of cocaine and marijuana and apparently tested positive for both upon his arrest.

Good grief.

According to a report by ESPN.com, he could face up to 7 ½ years in prison and multiple fines. His roommate, 21-year-old Brady Cooper Johnson, was also charged after police raided their Iowa City home and discovered marijuana, more than $3,000 in cash, a digital scale and other items used to sell drugs.

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz immediately suspended Johnson-Koulianos from team activities as soon as he received word of the charges and obviously the receiver won’t play against Missouri in the Insight Bowl on December 28.

The senior received first-team All-Big Ten honors and finished the regular season with 46 catches for 745 yards and 10 touchdowns. He became Iowa’s career leader in receptions and receiving yards and was the first player ever to lead the Hawkeyes in receiving his first three seasons.

I’m not a lawyer and therefore I don’t want to speculate on what Johnson-Koulianos faces from here on out. But it’s probably safe to assume that he can kiss any dreams of playing in the NFL goodbye.

Ohio State squeaks by Iowa, makes final week of Big Ten season very interesting

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 13: Cameron Heyward  of the Ohio State Buckeyes chases after quarterback Matt McGloin  of the Penn State Nittany Lions at Ohio Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Ohio State has yet to be overly impressive in any of its wins this season. But the Buckeyes are simply getting things done when they need to. Their 20-17 win today over Iowa keeps it a three-team jumble atop the Big Ten standings, as they’re tied with Michigan State and Wisconsin.

The Buckeyes play host to rival Michigan in a game they should win. Michigan State goes on the road against Penn State in a game that all of the sudden looks very dangerous for the Spartans. Wisconsin, meanwhile, plays at home against a Northwestern team that has proven to be dangerous at times.

Against Iowa, it was the Ohio State defense that stepped up when it needed to, especially on the last drive of the game. The Buckeyes may have committed a pass interference penalty on the first play of the drive — OK, they did and it was missed — but the next three plays they were able to get good pressure on Ricky Stanzi from their defensive line, and maintain great coverage downfield. The big play was Cameron Heyward’s sack of Stanzi on third down, which forced a fourth-and-21, which Iowa came two yards short on.

Some praise needs to be heaped on the Buckeyes quarterback, as well. Terrelle Pryor may still throw an interception at a bad time. He may still miss an open receiver. But right now, he’s making the plays Ohio State needs him to to win football games.

Pryor had a huge fourth-down scramble late in the fourth quarter to keep Ohio State’s go-ahead drive alive today against Iowa. Perhaps more impressive, he did it one play after Devier Posey dropped a sure touchdown pass — he also evaded the officials when he took his helmet off on the field after the play, which should have made it fourth and 25 instead of fourth and 10, but I digress.

The bottom line is that three teams still have a shot at the Big Ten’s Rose Bowl berth, meaning three games will be very important next week.

Baseball fields rule an otherwise lackluster day of college football

CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 18: A general view of the east end zone and a goalpost mounted to the right field wall as the Northwestern Wildcats practice for a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday November 20 at Wrigley Field on November 18, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Remember the first time you saw this picture — if you’ve seen it — and thought to yourself, “someone’s going to get killed catching a post pattern.”? Well, apparently the Big Ten — and the NCAA — thought the same thing, and Illinois and Northwestern will play their game today at Wrigley Field like you used to play in your backyard — always going toward the “good” end.

No, your eyes aren’t fooling you there. That is the goalpost attached to the wall at Wrigley. The wall that literally cuts into the paint of the end line.

The good news for Northwestern, Illinois and the Big Ten is that this mess of a field has drawn a lot of attention to a game that really doesn’t mean anything. People will tune in to see the wall in the endzone, and how the teams react to always going the same way.

It’s not the only game that is using a baseball field to create attention and ratings, as Notre Dame will play Army at Yankee Stadium tonight. The thought of these two playing at Yankee Stadium — even though it’s the new Yankee Stadium — has evoked a lot of memories of this historical rivalry. And these are two programs that love it when you’re focusing on history, because their history is a lot better than their present.

Both games are pulling in huge money for tickets, probably just for the spectacle. But even on a weak day in college football, neither game is big enough to crack the top five games of the week. Read the rest of this entry »

Crazy day in the Big Ten: Wisconsin scores 83, Iowa falters on the road

IOWA CITY, IA - OCTOBER 23- Quarterback Scott Tolzien  of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates with teammates Isaac Anderson  and Bradie Ewing  after their the University of Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium on October 23, 2010 in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 31-30 over Iowa. (Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images)

I went out for the afternoon to cover a high school football game, and all hell broke loose in the Big Ten. Well, not all hell, but some, anyway.

The big news is that Iowa, one of the four teams that came into this weekend tied for the top spot in the conference, lost on the road to Northwestern. The Wildcats came back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 21-17 win over the Hawkeyes. Dan Persa hit Demetrius Fields for a 20-yard touchdown with 1:22 remaining in the game for the winning score.

The loss could be the end of Iowa’s conference title/BCS hopes. They can help themselves out quite a bit next week, however, by taking out Ohio State at Kinnick Stadium.

One team they cannot stop, however, is Wisconsin, which I think just scored on Indiana again (it doesn’t matter what time you’re reading this, that still works). The Badgers won 83-20 (!) at home today, for their fifth straight win. You’d be hard-pressed to convince me any team is playing better in the Big Ten right now than Wisconsin. The Badgers finish the season with a game at Michigan and at home against Northwestern.

After scoring 83 on Indiana, anyone want to put an over/under on what they’ll score against Michigan? I mean, the baseline has to be like 65, right? Oh, and I forgot to mention, Wisconsin did that without John Clay in the lineup. How this team looked so bad early in the season, and lost to Michigan State by 10, I’ll never know.

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