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UM football adds oral commitment; Fins, Heat; a look at the year in sports

 A quick Friday night update:

###   Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy offensive lineman Sonny Odogwu, a three-star recruit, became UM’s 11th oral commitment Friday night when he chose the Canes over Mississippi State and Texas Tech.

Odogwu, 6-8 and 308 pounds, has a fascinating background. According to Canesport.com, he grew up in Africa, sharing a 12 by 12 room with 10 family members. He would sleep outside the front door on a wooden mat.

### Dolphins receiver Davone Bess will miss his third consecutive game with a back injury. With Bess out and Armon Binns listed as probable with a groin injury, the Dolphins are giving thought to promoting former Florida A&M receiver receiver Brian Tyms from the practice squad.

### Nolan Carroll was listed as questionable. Koa Misi, who has missed two games with an ankle injury, is probable.... There are conflicting reports whether the Pats' Rob Gronkowski will play. ESPN says he won't; others report he will.... CBS' lead team -- Jim Nantz and Phil Simms - call Sunday's game, the first time they will work a Dolphins game this season.

### Will Bynum? WILL BYNUM? The Pistons backup point guard shot over and drove by Heat point guards all night in Friday’s 109-99 Detroit win, closing with 25 points and 10 assists. “Everything was easy,” Erik Spoelstra complained of the Pistons’ offense. “… They were lighting us up. It doesn’t take much in this league for momentum to change.”

### LeBron James? Brilliant, as usual, becoming only the fourth player in 25 years to finish a game with at least 35 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, 6 assists, one block and shoot at least 60 percent. The others: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley.

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I'm posting four of my year-in-review newspaper stories in this space over the course of the next week. Here is the second installement of that four-part series, a look at the top 20 national sports stories of the year:

TOP 20 NATIONAL STORIES

1) Penn State football scandal. The news of Jerry Sandusky’s sexual abuse of boys was revealed in November 2011, but the aftershocks were felt well into 2012. The former Penn State defensive coordinator was convicted of assaulting 10 boys and sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison. And the NCAA punished Penn State with a four-year bowl ban, scholarship reductions and a stunning $60 million fine.

2) LeBron’s most excellent adventure. Ripped and ridiculed by critics, the most scrutinized athlete in sports responded resoundingly, leading the Heat to an NBA title, winning the MVP award for both the regular season and The Finals and capturing Olympic gold in London. To top it off, he was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated.

3) Lance Armstrong’s public shaming. The cycling star was stripped of his seven Tour De France victories after the US Doping Agency determined that he not only used performance-enhancing drugs, but that his cycling team “ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program the sport has ever seen.”

4) College football playoff approved. After 14 years of crowning a champion through the hardly-reliable Bowl Championship Series, the college presidents finally approved a four-team tournament beginning in 2014.

5) London Olympics. The U.S. won the medal count, as expected, with 104 to China’s 88. Michael Phelps won four golds and six silvers to push his all-time medal count to 22, most in history. Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt became the first athlete to win the 100 and 200 meters in consecutive Olympics.

6) New York Giants make unlikely Super Bowl run. The Giants beat the Patriots, 21-17, to earn the distinction of the Super Bowl champion with the worst regular-season record (9-7).

7) San Francisco Giants make unlikely run to World Series title. The Giants overcame a 3-1 deficit to St. Louis in the National League Championship Series, swept Detroit 4-0 in the World Series, and did it all without one of their best hitters, Melky Cabrera, who was suspended in August for violating MLB’s drug policy.

8) BountyGate. The NFL’s biggest scandal since the Patriots’ SpyGate fiasco rocked the New Orleans Saints’ foundation and resulted in a season-long suspension for coach Sean Peyton and an eight-game suspension for general manager Mickey Loomis. But former commissioner Paul Tagliabue overturned Roger Goodell’s suspension of four players.

9) NFL players die on consecutive weekends. The NFL mourned two tragedies in December: Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, and then shot himself. The following weekend, Dallas Cowboys player Josh Brent’s DUI incident resulted in the death of teammate Jerry Brown.

10) Peyton Manning’s comeback. The former MVP, who missed the 2011 season with a neck injury, was released by the Colts, who decided to start rookie Andrew Luck instead of paying Manning $28 million. Manning chose the Denver Broncos over several other suitors and quickly regained his old form, throwing 34 touchdowns in his first 15 games.

11) NHL work stoppage. The league, which lost its 2004-05 season to a labor dispute, lost the first three-plus months of this season – and potentially more – because of another disagreement about how to share revenue with the players.

12)  Alabama wins national title. Nick “I’m not going to be the Alabama coach” Saban guided the Crimson Tide to its 14th national title with a 21-0 shutout of LSU in January in New Orleans.

13)  Kentucky wins NCAA men’s title. The Wildcats defeated Kansas for their eighth championship. It was the first NCAA Tournament in which two No. 2 seeds (Duke and Missouri) were beaten by two No. 15 seeds (Lehigh, Norfolk State).

14)  Replacement referees. A labor dispute forced the NFL to use high-school and small-college referees the first three weeks of the season, eliciting a torrent of criticism over bad calls and non-calls. Not coincidentally, an agreement with the regular refs was reached two days allowed a highly-questionable touchdown catch gave Seattle a win against Green Bay.

15)  Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown. The former Marlin, traded to the Tigers in 2007 for a bowl of cream of wheat, became the first player to win it since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

16)  Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy. The first ever won by a freshman. The Texas A&M quarterback threw for 24 touchdowns and ran for 19.

17)  Pat Summitt retires. The basketball coach with eight national titles and the most wins in NCAA history (1098, compared with just 208 losses) retired from the Tennessee bench, eight months after disclosing she had early onset dementia.

18)  Year of the rookie quarterback. Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden all started from opening day, and three of them had their teams in playoff position entering the final weekend of the season. 

19) Pacquiao goes down. Juan Manuel Marquez’s sixth-round blow decked Manny Pacquiao, who hadn’t been knocked out since the last century (1999).

20)  (Tie). Brad Keselowski won his first Sprint Cup title; Jimmie Johnson blew his chance for a sixth because of gear failure in the Homestead race… Serena Williams rebounded from injuries to win Wimbledon, an Olympic gold and the U.S. Open… Roger Federer won a record-tying seventh Wimbledon… Tiger Woods, who went winless in 2011, won three tournaments (but no majors) and $6 million in prize money.

 

   

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