— The Top 10 sports stories in the state of Alabama for 2012, as chosen by The Associated Press:
Alabama is still rolling. The Crimson Tide opened the year by winning its second national title in three seasons with a 21-0 victory over LSU in New Orleans, and is aiming for another against Notre Dame on Jan. 7 in Miami. This time ‘Bama has already won the Southeastern Conference championship.
Two years removed from a national title, the Tigers plummeted to 3-9 and didn’t win a Southeastern Conference game in the program’s worst season in six decades. Coach Gene Chizik was fired the day after the season ended.
Auburn turned to former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn on Dec. 4, giving him a five-year contract worth $2.3 million annually to right the program after getting one season’s worth of college head coaching experience at Arkansas State.
Iron Bowl rout
One team headed for another national title shot, the other bound for an offseason of rebuilding. The result was Alabama’s 49-0 victory over Auburn in the most lopsided Iron Bowl in 64 years. Only the Tide’s 55-0 victory in 1948 had a bigger margin.
Football wasn’t the only ‘Bama sport claiming national titles. The Tide also won in softball, women’s golf and gymnastics — the most in any calendar year for the athletic program even without the football title from the 2011 season. It was the first women’s golf title and the softball program’s first in eight trips to the Women’s College World Series. Sarah Patterson’s gymnastics team has won two in a row and six overall.
And the winner is ...
Alabama’s football program raked the awards in. Barrett Jones — a former Outland Trophy winner — won the Rimington Award as the nation’s best center. He also won the William V. Campbell Trophy as the top scholar-athlete in college football. Jones, guard Chance Warmack, cornerback Dee Milliner and linebacker C.J. Mosley were all first-team AP All-Americans.