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Mike Maniscalco

The naughty and nice in 2012 sports

Posted December 21, 2012

The holiday season always brings out the year-end lists; from top games and moments to best players and coaches. With Christmas so close, a naughty and nice list seems to be in order - you know Santa could use some help.

So let’s take a look at a few names that deserve the shiny new bike or a lump of coal.

Nice:

Mike Krzyzewski: the Duke head basketball coach might not have had the greatest start to the year, with his team missing out on the chance to win the ACC regular season title and a first round elimination in the NCAA tournament at the hands of Lehigh, but things picked up from there. Coach K led team USA to another Olympic gold medal, cementing the job he was hired to do to: put and keep USA hoops back on the top of the mountain. The year will end with his Duke Blue Devils as the No. 1 team in the polls and an early present with the commitment from No. 2 recruit in the nation for the class of 2013, small forward Jabari Parker from Chicago.

Russell Wilson: The former NC State and Wisconsin quarterback was drafted in the third round by the Seattle Seahawks. Since April, all Wilson has done is led the Seahawks to the cusp of the NFC playoffs and convinced people that he’s not “too short” to succeed in the league. Along the way, he has shown the playmaking ability that was on display while wearing Wolfpack or Badger uniforms with the same efficiency. For Seahawk fans he has been the best surprise gift in years.

Gio Bernard: The UNC running back cracked the 1,000-yard rushing mark again for the Heels, helping them put together an 8-4 season in Larry Fedora’s first year as head coach. The Heels had a lot of things to overcome this year due to NCAA sanctions and the fact that the team hadn’t beaten NC State in five years. Bernard didn’t just get the job done running the football, he was one of the best punt returners in the nation and his 74-yard punt return with 13 seconds left against State provided a highlight for Heels fans forever.

Duke football: It had been 18 years since the Blue Devils were bowl eligible. On Oct. 20, the Blue Devils not only became bowl eligible, they beat their rival North Carolina to get there.

Mark Gottfried: The NC State basketball coach in his first year took the Pack to the Sweet 16. In the off-season, Gottfried inked a top-10 recruiting class, this year he is on the trail of landing another top-10 class and he has returned NC State to the national basketball consciousness. The Wolfpack opened up the season in the top-10 and have been in the top-25 all season. 

Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning: Both players have returned from devastating injuries to return not only to their all-pro form, but beyond. Peterson has a chance to break the NFL’s single-season rushing record and the running back has kept the Minnesota Vikings in the playoff race after coming back in less than a year from a devastating knee injury. Manning has shown that the year off after a reported four neck surgeries didn’t erode his quarterbacking skills. The Indianapolis Colts couldn’t count on Manning to be healthy so the QB moved on to the Denver Broncos. With their new sheriff in town people in the Mile High City are talking Super Bowl.

Kirk Muller: The new Carolina Hurricanes head coach led the team to a 25-20-12 after taking over. Muller instilled a new confidence in the team and an aggressive style of play that had Canes fans excited for the upcoming season.

This leads us to the next list.

Naughty:

Gary Bettman: The NHL commissioner is presiding over the third lockout of his tenure. This happened after a major market team in the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup, and the commissioner told us that the NHL hadn’t been healthier. Bettman has basically put the ‘take it or leave it’ stance in most of the negotiations with the NHLPA leaving little room for negotiating. The NHL management forced the Players Union to take a deal that the league wanted to end the last lockout and now is asking the players to save the owners from the deal that the NHL wanted in the first place.

Donald Fehr: The head of the NHLPA could have ended this lockout sooner if he was willing to make a deal before this summer. Fehr’s favorite game is negotiating and he shares blame in the NHL keeping the doors closed on this season. While it is his job to give the players the best deal possible, he also has to understand that holding out this long might not leave a league to come back to.

Lance Armstrong: For years Armstrong wanted us to believe that he was clean and that it was a conspiracy of jealous cyclers trying to sully his name. The evidence continued to mount against Armstrong and he was eventually stripped of his seven Tour De France titles.

Roger Goodell: The NFL commissioner sat back and let replacement referees - that were sub-par - handle regular season games. This game of chicken with the real referees did not sit well with fans or the players. Goodell further upset the players with his handling the Saints bounty-gate, suspending four players and using his position of power to govern the league. The NFL has never been more popular, the commissioner on the other hand, not so much.

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  • 4tarheels Dec 23, 12:44 p.m.

    UNC Football should be on your naughty list too, since they missed the postseason due to cheating.

    — Posted by aoakley336

    You are in error, that would be the 2009-2011 teams. The 2012 UNC football team is paying for those teams mistakes but Fedora and his boys won fair and square. Happy New Year, the penalties are over. Time to move on, GO HEELS!!

  • aoakley336 Dec 22, 10:23 a.m.

    UNC Football should be on your naughty list too, since they missed the postseason due to cheating.

  • Gunnstigator Dec 21, 9:10 p.m.

    Great article, Mike! It was an entertaining read and a great recap of the year. The only one I don't agree with is Roger Goddell on the "bad" list. I think Goddell has tried to "protect the shield" and keep player safety as areas of concern.

    I'm a Heels fan, but I have to agree with K being on the "good list". I have a ton of respect for a man who can coach excellence on the collegiate and Olympic level.

    Thanks for a great review of the year in sports and I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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