Having to settle for 1 of 3

January 07, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

My holiday sports bonanza was the epitome of a perfectly operating yo-yo.

I was down, but not out after the New Year's Day Gator Bowl fiasco in Jacksonville. It was called a football game and Notre Dame was supposed to participate.

Then, Ohio State brought home a national championship to the Buckeye State Friday with its late-night stinger on Miami.

The national title sets aside the past wounds from potential crowns that have been punctured since 1968 when the Bucks last took it all.

Heading into Sunday, I'm thinking maybe, just maybe, it could be two out of three for my favorites if the Browns could just eliminate the ghosts that haunted them twice during the regular season against Pittsburgh.


After being sucked into a frantic frenzy, we were recoiled as the Steelers rallied in the final quarter, the so-called prevent defense producing another loss.

My beloved Irish once again were humbled in a postseason bowl, ending a year that began to fall apart after the loss to Boston College. A near-loss against Navy and then being smashed at Southern California certainly did not bode well for positive feelings. If it weren't for the defense, I'm not too sure 10 victories would have been attained. As the year wore on, even the defensive unit began to malfunction.

I quiver at any second thoughts. Dare I even suggest that if Notre Dame played Maryland right now, the Terps would come away with a much better result than back in August? Hold on, I probably agree they would.

Looking at Maryland's smashing Peach Bowl victory over Tennessee, it was like a "turtle off the monkey's back." The Terps finally got a win on national television after stumbling against Notre Dame and Florida State during the regular season.

With consecutive 10-win seasons and winning a bowl game for the first time since 1985, expectations will continue to rise in College Park.

There are several regulars back next year, and recruiting should be on the upswing with another good season. Sure, E.J. Henderson and Chris Downs will be gone, but the nucleus of talent will be second to none in the ACC.

Would anyone argue the Big Ten is the best conference in the country?

Looks to me like the Big Ten had the upper hand on everyone after five victories - the biggest of course, Ohio State - and only two losses.

  • And here's my short list of wishes for 2003:

  • A resolution that all area high schools have a banner 2003 season.

  • A hope that all scholastic coaches get their event information to us without delay following their contest.

  • A big NCAA basketball season for Notre Dame that makes it to the Final Four - and wins it all.

  • To keep minor league baseball in Hagerstown, an agreement among the principles involved to get the ball rolling on a new baseball stadium. Municipal Stadium is old, creaky, antiquated ... well, let's stop there. Go take a look at the new stadium in Eastlake, Ohio that houses the Lake County Captains, also members of the South Atlantic League.

  • Hoping the NCAA and BCS get things straight for an improved post-season structure when its current contract expires in 2005. Money will be the ultimate factor, but let's find a way to insure a true title game every year.

  • The flap over women being members at Augusta National subsides. The club was built on being men only, so let it be. It's not like there aren't any women-only clubs around. What about Suzy Whaley, the woman who will play in the Greater Hartford Open this summer? How about if I play in an LPGA event?

  • That high schools have printed rosters readily available at their athletic contests.

MMMM GOOD: First visit recently to South Hagerstown High School. Gotta say the concession stand is right at the top of my list. Pretty darn good hot dogs and who else around serves great-tasting stadium-like french fries in a high school?

Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2311, or by e-mail at

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