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More Than Bonds, Scandals, and Upsets

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on December 29, 2007

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my big sister Renetria, it’s this:

Good things happen when you least expect it and you have to be ready when it comes your way.

And in the case of what has happened in not only the world of sports, but also personally for me, I don’t think even she would have written a better script than this for the year 2007.

The year began with Boise State, a school that is known for the blue turf and the stomping grounds of Dan Hawkins beating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl to cap off an undefeated season in Boise.

While that was happening, I was stuck in a dead-end job as a telemarketer out in East Memphis in a shopping center off Interstate 40 and was headed towards a road to nowhere.

After Boise State shocked the world in the Fiesta Bowl, the Indianapolis Colts, — who had their Super Bowl dreams snuffed out by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005 after winning their third straight AFC South Championship — would finally vanquish the dragon that is the New England Cheaters to head to the Colts’ first Super Bowl since moving to Indianapolis in 1984.

A week later here in Memphis, the book idea I had on another incredible experience, the summer of 2006, would be accepted by a publisher in Maryland and is awaiting release in the spring of 2008.

Then on Febraury 4th, the same weekend that my big sister made the trek down to South Beach, the Indianapolis Colts would become champions of the world by beating the Chicago Bears in a driving rain, giving Peyton Manning and Tony Dungy total vindication from critics who’ve said for years that they couldn’t win the big one.

Nineteen days later, I would make an unannounced visit to Crichton College that came days after the school won its first TransSouth Conference Championship.

In March, there was the Cinderella run made by Memphis Westside High School in the TSSAA tournament where they would lose to Liberty in the state semifinals and therefore close the doors on Memphis Westside High School, which has since been transformed into a middle school because of dwindling enrollment.

The Memphis Tigers would finish Conference USA play undefeated at 16-0 after beating a feisty Southern Methodist team in Dallas on March 3rd, giving the Tigers their first undefeated conference record in school history, parlaying that success to their second straight C-USA Tournament championship and their second straight Elite Eight, also a school first.

Kentucky would say goodbye to Tubby Smith, who traded the Bluegrass for the Twin Cities to helm the Minnesota basketball program, which seems now as I think about it, the best thing he could have ever done for himself.

April brought us one of many feel-good stories in baseball as Cincinnati Reds outfielder Josh Hamilton would thrill the baseball world with his outstanding start and comeback from drug problems.

Four months after celebrating a National Championship in football, the Gators would complete the double by winning their second straight National Championship in basketball and would nearly lose Billy Donovan to the Orlando Magic, only to see him return to Gainesville a few days later.

And as the month came to a close, I would begin a new job as irrigation supervisor at the University of Memphis, giving me a chance to work once again with my mother while having free range as far as flirting was concerned.

May brought us another upset as the #8-seeded Golden State Warriors shocked my pick to win the NBA Championship, the Dallas Mavericks, to become the first 8-seed to win a seven-game series in NBA history. Although Golden State would lose to the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals, their run in the NBA Playoffs was one of the most inspiring stories of the season.

Not only that, but the Memphis Tigers baseball team would make its first NCAA Regionals since 1994, only to be eliminated by Austin Peay in the Nashville Regional.

In June, another set of Cardinals, this time in Louisville, would become the darlings of the country as they advanced to their first ever College World Series by defeating the Oklahoma State Cowboys in front of a packed Jim Patterson Stadium in Louisville.

Also in June we saw the violent yet combustive end of Michael Barrett’s tenure in Chicago as well as the first ejection by Lou Pinella as manager of the Cubs to go along with the Spurs’ fourth championship in nine years.

There was the death of Terry Hoeppner, the man who reenergized the Indiana football program and a guy I wrote about in one of my first columns for TNB.

July brought us the Michael Vick and Tim Donaghy sagas, scandals that in some sense brought visibility to this very blog while I would make another career change by selling cheesecake through the Tennessee Cheesecake Company in Costco on Hacks Cross Road in Southeast Memphis.

And when August rolled around, I would find myself kicked out of a church and find redemption as a new student over at Crichton College, which as I write this, hasn’t been the same since I arrived there.

On August 23rd, TNB would enter a handshake agreement with Crichton College in order to bring more visibility to the athletic programs at the school and six days later, I would find myself out of a job for the second time in three months with the Tennessee Cheesecake Company.

September brought us Kentucky’s victory over Louisville, a victory that changed the fortunes of both teams’ programs for the rest of the season.

There was the tragic death of Taylor Bradford, a turning point in the Memphis Tigers’ football season.

The Mets joined the 1964 Phillies in choking away a comfortable lead in the NL East while Colorado captured the nation’s attention by going on a magical run that would lead them to their first World Series.

We had the resurgence of Missouri and Illinois football as well as the beginning of the Marc Iavanori era in Memphis which at this point in the season is turning into a complete waste of time.

Lester Hudson, an old classmate of mine from Southwest emerged as one of the nation’s leaders in scoring while Derrick Rose proved to us why he’s the real deal for the Tigers.

Crichton would make a change in student manager on November 15th when a certain writer would replace John Tibbits and begin a new era in Crichton basketball.

The same day, TNB did an interview with the random hottie that proved to doom the guys in the first-ever “Battle of the Sexes” that would run a week later.

There’s so many things that could fill this column that I’m writing now about this incredible year in not only my life, but also in sports.

It has been a blessing to share my thoughts on the sports world with you all, the readers as well as my homeboys from another mother: Matt, “Bob Swerski”, “Condo”, and “Charlie Hustle”, guys that, along with me, brought this blog from the dead to one of the fastest growing blogs in the Southeast.

We don’t know what will happen in 2008, but if 2007 was any indication of how unpredictable life can be, we might expect the same.

The best is yet to come.

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