5-at-10: Goodbye 2013, Mocs and Vols roll and one to watch in '14

5-at-10: Goodbye 2013, Mocs and Vols roll and one to watch in '14

December 31st, 2013 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

Good-bye 2013

So long 2013, it feels like we barely got to know you. You were a year of wonder and amazing- hey the Auburn Tigers just pulled another victory rabbit out of their helmet - and a year of perspective.

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o waits for a snap.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

It was a year that introduced the mainstream public to catfishing, the internet hoaxing world made famous in the fallout of the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax, that bullying exists in the locker room, that concussions are a threat to the country's most popular game and that tanking is the modern definition of trying to win by losing.

We got too many lessons and tutorials on steroids and PEDs by the same cast of charactures - A-Rod, Lance, Ryan, Rog and the rest of the usual suspects - to the point that the outrage has turned to indifference.

We got too familiar with the fact that golf fans are the most powerful in all of sports since they actually get to double as rules officials with 55-inch HD monitors.

We got too painful a reminder that terrorists have little regard for anything other than terror in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.

We got too many highlights to recount. There were the miracle Tigers that stunned Alabama and were lucky to beat Georgia. There was the stout by not major Tiger that moved to No. 1 in the golf world but has not claimed one of the major title that will define his legacy since 2008. There was the all-world hitting Tiger, Miguel Cabrera, who had a better year in '13 than he did the previous season when he won the triple crown.

LeBron James

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

There also was LeBron and the Heatles, who showed us that you can by with a little help from your friends, especially when that friend is Ray Allen and he is one of the best clutch 3-point shooters ever.

And who could forget the maestro, Mr. Manning, who makes spirals special and turns defenses defensives with a simple presnap turn of the phrase. Simply put, Peyton just notched the single best season in NFL history, breaking marks for most TD passes and passing yards in a year. Hard to fathom that he's getting better with age, and the fine whine of his cold-weather struggles could be forever silenced in six weeks. Of course it could be further encased in the iron barrel of public belief if Manning and the Broncos fail to win it all. The course of greatness is that you often will be cursed if you fail to be great.

So who will be great in 2014. Here's one list of those to watch in the year that will host a Winter Olympics in Russia and a World Cup in Rio.

The commissioners - NBA boss David Stern is stepping down in February and will be replaced by Adam Silver; NFL boss Roger Goodell will face a myriad of challenges/opportunities in the new year, including a cold weather Super Bowl and renewed talks about TV, expansion and safety; baseball's Bud Selig is staring at the end of his career and his efforts to wipe away the PEDs era seems more Quixotic with each passing year.

The stars - Will Manning win it all? Will LeBron do it again? Does Tiger have another major in his bag?

The teams - Will Alabama return to the top? Will the Yankees return to the playoffs? Will the USA strike gold in Sochi or find the net in Brazil? And if they do will anyone back home really notice?

In truth, the most important sports figure in 2014 may be you, the fan. In an era in which there are more demands and more eye candy and more avenues for your entertainment dollar, the sports world is increasingly desperate to fill its seats.

The TV experience is getting better. Attending games is becoming more expensive. Those issues face every league from the NFL to high schools.

Interesting times to be sure, with a ton of questions. What's your prediction for 2014?

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Top five names to know

As the NFL coaching carousel skips straight to ludicrous speed, there are a slew of names out there that range from retreads to longshots. Here are five guys to keep an eye on that likely will be on the move and could fill any of the six current NFL openings: former Bears coach Lovie Smith, Cincy OC Jay Gruden, San Diego OC Ken Whisenhunt, Penn State head coach Bill O'Brien and Denver DC Jack Del Rio.

It's a good list, but the circle of qualified candidates hardly blows back your Tom Landry hat.

Wonder too if Jon Gruden has any interest? What about Tony Dungy? How 'bout Ditka? DIT-ka.

Still, the names above are likely the starting points and once the cleats start dropping, the jobs will fill quickly.

Also, the dynamics of the NFL coveting O'Brien make for interesting theater, considering that if he leaves PSU, there are current and former NFL guys who could be in play for that job or even someone like James Franklin could be a target.

Also, the fact that the Texas job has remained virtually silent could mean that the name atop the Longhorns' list could be involved in a prominent bowl game or even in the NFL playoffs.

Interesting indeed.

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Mocs win

UTC's Z. Mason (30) dunks on Covenant at McKenzie Arena.

Photo by Dan Henry/Times Free Press.

UTC sipped from the championship chalice at the annual Dr Pepper Classic.

Z Mason was the tournament MVP and Ronrico White made the all-tournament team after scoring 20 points in 25 minutes in the 86-80 championship game victory over Maine.

We're an eternal optimist, some might say we are a simple country boy, a cockeyed optimist who got mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy and international intrigue, like Billy Mumphrey.

So in that direction, let's examine the good.

Z. Mason can play, and he appears to be healthy again. That's very encouraging news for 2014.

The energy seems consistent and consistently good. That's a positive.

Monday night the Mocs were very efficient from the floor (and very wasteful from the foul line). UTC shot right at 50 percent for the game and made 11 3s. Good times.

They share the basketball - 20 assists, including 10 from Gee McGhee, is a good number any night - and that has not always been the case with this program in recent years. (The Mocs from two years ago may have been the single most selfish team in basketball history.)

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This and that

- Apparently the NFL is reviewing one of Peyton Manning's passes from Sunday to see if it was a lateral. This happens every week in the stat review process, of course it's not every week that a potential reversal would rewrite history, since if the 7-yard completion is ruled a lateral, Manning will go from setting the all-time passing record with 5,477 yards to being second. Here's more.

This photo taken Aug. 2013 shows New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow throwing during warmups before a NFL preseason game against the Detroit Lions in Detroit.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

- Tim Tebow has been hired by ESPN to be a broadcaster on the upcoming SEC Network. He seems like a perfect fit, but he made need to work on his delivery. Thank you.

- Big win for the Tennessee Vols, who thumped Virginia on Monday. It was so one-sided that you were equally impressed and puzzled by how could a team be that bi-polar.

- The bowl picks went a woeful 1-3 Monday. Not good times. And defnitely not very entertaining. We are 10-9 against the number so far this bowl season and will have our New Year's picks in tomorrow's 5-at-10. Spy, is PJ in trouble in the coming days or is he just sitting in the ACC's version of the Will Muschamp special edition hot seat?

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Today's questions

This one's easy and we want as many of you to respond as possible:

Favorite sports moment of 2013. Discuss.