By Drew Markol, TSN Contributor - Archive - Email
Nobody asked me, but...
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The danger in trying to put together the biggest sports stories of the year before the year is over are obvious. Something big, something that fits on this list, could happen over the next four days and it won't be on here.

Come Monday, when the NFL will have its annual head coach bloodletting, would be example. We could see 10 coaches tossed overboard. That will be a huge story, with big implications. But if (when) it happens, please just remember I warned you.

So, with no further adieu, let's take a look at what shaped the sports world over the past 12 months: (We'll try and keep this to 10, but man, that's tough).

#10: Longtime Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history, retires at the age of 59.

The announcement came less than eight months after Summitt revealed she had early onset dementia. Summitt was a remarkable 1,098-208 with eight national titles in 38 seasons.

#9: The run to the Super Bowl title by the New York Giants. Through 14 games, the Giants were a middling 7-7 and their fans were howling. They squeaked into the playoffs, then beat the Atlanta Falcons; beat the top-seeded Green Bay Packers on the road; and then beat the San Francisco 49ers (again, on the road) in overtime.

And, oh, yeah, they then went and beat the New England Patriots to win the shiny trophy.

#8: We heard about it for what seemed years, but on Sept. 15 the NHL lockout became reality. And once it hit most thought it wouldn't last that long and ice hockey would be played in October.

Well, it was, except it wasn't played in NHL arenas. And it still hasn't been. Today, there seems to be no end in sight as the NHL runs the risk of canning another season. Sad for a league that seemed to be making inroads in the United States.

#7: Joe Paterno dies of complications from lung cancer. The face of Penn State University forever succumbs to cancer in January, less than two weeks after the school named Bill O'Brien to take over the football program.

#6: Replacement officials work the first three weeks of the NFL regular season before a questionable touchdown catch by the Seattle Seahawks in a game against the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football ends the experiment. Two days later, the NFL and its regular officials settle their differences and the "real" refs return.

#5: A four-team playoff system in the BCS is adopted and will be used starting after the 2014 season. It's better than what we have now is the rallying cry.

#4: The New Orleans Saints and bounty will be forever entwined. The Saints see head coach Sean Payton suspended for the season and the team starts 0-4, being all but ousted from playoff contention before October.

#3: The fall of Lance Armstrong is complete as the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has Armstrong's record seven Tour de France titles erased from the books.

#2: Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt highlight a wondrous Summer Olympics with sizzling performances.

Phelps retires from swimming after the Games with a record 22 medals including 18 golds.

#1: (We'll lump this whole mess together) On July 12, the Louis Freeh report is released and points the finger at a cover-up in the sexual abuse case of Jerry Sandusky by Paterno, athletic director Tim Curley, Penn State president Graham Spanier and vice president Gary Schultz.

Eleven days later, fallout from the Freeh report leads the NCAA to fine Penn State $60 million; reduce football scholarships; and imposes a four-year bowl ban on the football program.

In October, Sandusky, the former longtime assistant to Paterno, is sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison for child sexual abuse.

Let's hope the No. 1 item in 2013 has a happier theme.

Drew Markol has been a sportswriter and columnist for several newspapers in the Philadelphia area for more than 25 years.

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