The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

December 26, 2012

Tide tops list of state’s 2012 sports stories


Associated Press

— The Top 10 sports stories in the state of Alabama for 2012, as chosen by The Associated Press:

Tide’s titles

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.

Auburn’s woes

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.

Malzahn hired

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.

Title town

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.

Back to tournament

Anthony Grant’s Alabama team ended a six-year NCAA tournament drought. The Tide lost 58-57 to Creighton in the first round after Josh Jones blocked Trevor Releford’s 3-point attempt as the clock expired.

UAB-Haase

The Blazers turned the basketball program over to North Carolina assistant and former Kansas player Jerod Haase in March, replacing Mike Davis and trying to restore the program to its days as regular NCAA tournament participants.

Olympic medals

Ex-Alabama runner Kirani James (Grenada) won the 400-meter gold medal while former Auburn swimmers Tyler McGill and Eric Shanteau were part of the winning 4x100 medley relay team. Auburn athletes collected six medals.

Small college switches

Some of the big moves included Jacksonville State firing football coach Jack Crowe after 13 seasons and hiring South Alabama defensive coordinator Bill Clark. Samford fired men’s basketball coach Jimmy Tillette and hired Bennie Seltzer. Bobby Wallace returned in January to North Alabama, where he won three Division II football titles in the 1990s. South Alabama men’s basketball coach Ronnie Arrow retired 10 games into the current season.