Greeson: From amazing 2013 we flip to promising 2014

Greeson: From amazing 2013 we flip to promising 2014

January 1st, 2014 by Jay Greeson in Sports - Columns

JAY'S CRYSTAL BALL

As the calendars turns, here are some predictions for this year with the following quick predictions:

• Butch Jones and Russ Huesman will be preaparing for the postseason next December.

• Will Wade will get the Mocs to the Southern Conference finals this March. Jim Foster will get the female Mocs to the NCAA tournament this March and win a game.

• Alabama will win the Iron Bowl and the SEC title, and Auburn and Alabama will each make the first four-team national playoffs.

• Peyton Manning and the Broncos will fall short in the snow in the New York City Super Bowl.

• LeBron James and Miami will win the NBA title and James will explore free agency.

• The Atlanta Braves will miss the playoffs.

Want to submit a prediction and get it on the record? Send it to sports@timesfreepress.com and we'll run some of the predictions in Sunday's Times Free Press sports section.

Auburn cornerback Chris Davis (11) returns a missed field goal attempt 100-plus yards to score the game-winning touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against No. 1 Alabama in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 34-28.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

On the national scale, the stars will shine in 2014. Peyton Manning will fall short in New York City in the Super Bowl in a foot of snow that will be a TV dream and a halftime-show debacle. LeBron and Miami will win it all in the NBA again.

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.

We said "goodbye" too often. There was the death of Nelson Mandela and the role that sports played in his efforts in South Africa. There was the poignant end of Mariano Rivera's amazingly and consistently dominant career with the Yankees. There was the final game for Mack Brown and for Candlestick Park.

We said "hello" too seldom. We know the stars and the storylines and we crave surprises and underdogs. Maybe that's one of the reasons the Auburn rise from 3-9 this time a year ago to five days from a national-title shot captured the attention of the sporting world to the point that Tigers players graced the Sports Illustrated cover three times in the last six weeks.

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 story), shared with us that bullying exists in the locker room, informed us that concussions are a threat to the country's most popular game, introduced Jason Collins' private life to the world and tried to teach us that tanking is the modern definition of trying to win by losing.

We got too much convergence of sports and TV cop dramas -- think putting the SI in CSI -- considering the cases, the charges, the speeding car chases and the fact that we know where the Heisman winner's DNA was found.

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 who stunned Alabama and were lucky to beat Georgia. There was the mythical Tiger who moved to No. 1 in the golf world but since 2008 still has not claimed one of the major titles that will define his legacy. There was the all-world hitting Tiger, Miguel Cabrera, who had a better year in 2013 than he did the previous season when he won the triple crown.

There also was LeBron and the Heatles, who showed us that you can get 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 defensiveless 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, and it's far from short on potential difference makers:

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.

Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning smiles following an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

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.

Here's hoping that we all get a rooting interest in the next 12 months.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and follow him on Twitter @jgreesontfp, and listen to him and David Paschall on "Press Row" weekdays 3-6 p.m. on ESPN 105.1 FM and in real time on timesfreepress.com.