As 2012 draws to a close, here are 10 items from the sports calendar that I did not predict on New Year's Day.
Going more or less in chronological order:
Alabama Bashes LSU: It wasn't shocking that Alabama won the rematch with LSU in the BCS national title game on Jan. 10. After all, the Tigers squeaked out the regular-season showdown 9-6 in overtime.
But, oh my. What Nick Saban's defense did to undefeated LSU in a 21-0 beatdown was jaw-dropping. The Tigers didn't cross the 50 until midway through the fourth quarter and finished with five first downs.
Nittany Nightmare: The Jerry Sandusky pedophilia story actually broke late in 2011. But the revelations of Penn State's institutional failure spilled forth well into 2012. The trauma continued, from the death of deposed Joe Paterno and removal of his statue to the hammering NCAA sanctions.
But worst of all were the disgusting details of Sandusky's trial that ended with a guilty verdict on 45 counts of sexual abuse.
Uneasy Rider: The most infamous motorcycle wreck in college football history occurred outside Fayetteville, Ark., in April, Coach Bobby Petrino would have emerged intact with just a few scrapes were it not for his blonde ex-volleyball-playing passenger, Instead, his career was torched and so was a very promising Razorback 2012 season.
Arkansas finished 4-8 under an interim coach, Petrino was fired and then shunned by several SEC schools in the recent coaching carousel. He starts over in 2013 at Western Kentucky.
Lance Crashes: As the allegations mounted over time, I reluctantly came to accept that no matter how much he protested, Lance Armstrong had probably used illegal performance-boosting assistance to dominate the Tour de France.
But I did not anticipate such crushing evidence that would send Armstrong so deep into the shadows, distanced even from his cancer-fighting Livestrong foundation.
Knuckle Down: Time for a feel-good story and that's what former Tennessee star R.A. Dickey delivered in a New York Mets uniform.
In the twilight of an unremarkable pro baseball career, Dickey, at age 37, mesmerized batters from April until September and became the first knuckle ball pitcher to win the Cy Young Award.
More Realignment: I really, really hoped conference expansion was over. Alas, not even close.
Maryland and Rutgers are headed to the Big Ten, Louisville to the ACC and there's no telling how the Big East will sort out.
If Manchester United joins the SEC in 2013 I won't bat an eye.
He's Gonna Go All The Way: Tennessee's 2012 football season was surprising on so many levels. For me, the abiding image will be some guy sprinting nearly the length of the field with orange jerseys in futile pursuit.
The Vols surrendered 15 touchdowns of 40-plus yards. Of those, 11 were 50-plus and eight 70-plus.
Johnny Heisman: When's the last time a guy nobody ever heard of in August wins the Heisman Trophy?
Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel — aka Johnny Football — did the unthinkable for a freshman by becoming Johnny Heisman.
Peyton Hits Reboot: Peyton Manning's extraordinary career could have been finished as a Colt after sitting out 2011 due to neck surgery. Many thought he should start writing his Hall of Fame acceptance speech rather than risk a comeback.
But no. He flirted with the Titans, signed with Denver and is a candidate for both comeback player of the year and MVP. In short, Manning continues to amaze.
Back To The 30s: Even without Jeronne Maymon to stir the drink, I didn't foresee the depth of Tennessee's basketball Vols struggling to score against good teams.
Topping out at 36 at Georgetown and then 38 at Virginia in a six-day span was sobering. Better in December than March.