SBD/December 22, 2011/2011 Year in Review

Higher Education: The College Sports Headlines Of The Year

The college sports landscape changed dramatically during the past 12 months. Here are some of the more notable headlines that impacted campuses from College Park to College Station and all spots in between.

Sandusky was arrested on more than 40
counts of child sexual abuse

SCANDALS ROCK THE INDUSTRY: The college sports world was rocked in November when former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was arrested on more than 40 counts of child sexual abuse. The scandal quickly brought down all the major players in Happy Valley, including President Graham Spanier, AD Tim Curley and legendary coach Joe Paterno. Just two weeks later, sexual molestation charges were brought against Syracuse assistant men’s basketball coach Bernie Fine by two former ball boys, claiming the abuse lasted for decades.

WHO’S GOT A MAP? Conference realignment was a major topic for the second consecutive year, with Texas A&M sparking the renewed fervor by leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. Other major programs switching conference allegiances are Pitt, Syracuse, Missouri and West Virginia. And that says nothing of the new Big East -- TCU left without ever really joining and geography majors were left scratching their heads when the conference expanded to add Boise State and San Diego State in football.

YOU BETTER WORK IT: The college football sideline often looked like a fashion show this fall as many teams trotted out new or special uniforms. But the fashion revolution hit hardest at Maryland, as the Terrapins debuted their new Under Armour “Pride” uniforms. The jerseys, helmets and shoes were inspired by the Maryland state flag and designed to bring attention to the school. They instantly became a trending topic on Twitter and were described as “hideously spectacular.”

Carrier Classic was played on USS Carl
Vinson off coast of San Diego

I’M ON A BOAT: North Carolina and Michigan State tipped off their basketball season at sea on Veterans Day by participating in the inaugural Quicken Loans Carrier Classic upon the USS Carl Vinson off the coast of San Diego. The game featured both teams wearing camouflage uniforms and Carolina coach Roy Williams wore combat boots to honor the Navy. President Obama was in attendance, and ESPN’s Dick Vitale called the setting probably “the best I’ve seen in my 33 years.”

THE NEW KID IN TOWN: The ’11 College World Series was held for the first time at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha after being played at celebrated Rosenblatt Stadium for the past 60 years. The new $131M facility drew rave reviews, with the NCAA’s Dennis Poppe saying the event went “amazingly well.” A CWS record crowd of 26,721 attended the championship game to see South Carolina claim its second consecutive title.

CHIP COUNT: Auburn’s Wes Byrum was lining up for the potential national championship-winning field goal when Brent Musburger coyly slipped in, “This is for all the Tostitos.” The reference to the game’s title sponsor instantly sparked a debate as to whether Musburger was "having great fun or making a shameless plug.” Frito-Lay claimed they had nothing to do with it but felt “fortunate” and “delighted” with the veteran announcer’s ad-lib.

Oregon basketball court was named in honor of
Nike Chair Phil Knight’s late son, Matthew

SEEING THE FOREST FOR THE TREES: The beginning of the year brought the opening of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena, a $227M, 12,500-seat basketball facility named in honor of Nike Chair Phil Knight’s late son. The arena featured no suites but has two club areas, one of which requires a $500,000 minimum donation over five years. It also sported one of the most distinct courts in America, with the paint job intended to reference the Tall Furs in the region.

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: Robert Burton gave UConn $3M to build the Burton Family Football Complex, but this year asked for his money back and requested that the family’s name be removed from the building. Burton cited disagreements with the school’s AD over the decision to hire Paul Pasqualoni as UConn’s football coach. Burton, however, dropped his request a couple of weeks later and was back in the fold.
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