Longtime Fresno Bee columnist Bill McEwen ranked his top 10 stories of 2012, with sports coming in as the No. 9 theme. Here is that excerpt from his Top 10 of 2012 review.
9. Bulldogs bounce back
New Fresno State football coach Tim DeRuyter said that the Bulldogs would feature a wide-open offense and an aggressive defense -- strategies vastly different than predecessor Pat Hill's grind-it-out offense and bend-don't-break defense.
DeRuyter was true to his word, and Fresno State finished 9-4 in a remarkable turnaround season that lost some of its luster with an embarrassing 43-10 defeat to underdog Southern Methodist in the Hawaii Bowl.
Quarterback Derek Carr and tailback Robbie Rouse starred as expected. But senior strong safety Phillip Thomas was the difference-maker, becoming the school's first unanimous All-America selection. He led the nation with eight interceptions -- returning three for touchdowns -- after missing the 2011 season due to injury.
Fans had a wait-and-see attitude about the team, which captured a share of the Mountain West title in its first season in the conference. The Bulldogs failed to sell out a single home game.
Next year offers promise with Carr saying he will return for his senior season. He will throw to Davante Adams, who led the Mountain West in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.
But Bulldog dreams of starting 2013 ranked in the Top 25 evaporated in Honolulu and sent ripples of doubt through Red Wavers, who haven't had a bowl victory to savor since 2007.
Other notable sports stories:
- Avenal's Jose Ramirez survived a grueling qualification process to make the U.S. Olympic boxing team, but was eliminated after opening the London Games with a victory. Still considered a potential professional world champion, he signed a five-year contract with Top Rank Inc., and knocked out his opponent in his pro debut this month.
- Adrian Wiggins, who led the Fresno State women's basketball program to five consecutive NCAA tournaments, left in March to become head coach at Ole Miss of the powerhouse Southeastern Conference. Seven months later, he was fired after Ole Miss officials found recruiting and academic misconduct in the program. Wiggins may end up back in the Valley coaching the boys basketball team at Clovis East High.
- The San Francisco Giants won their second World Series title in three seasons, completing a sweep of the favored Detroit Tigers in November. Fresno Grizzlies fans pointed out that the Giants' World Series roster included 17 players who had played in Fresno during their careers.
- The pins stopped falling after 53 years at Cedar Lanes Bowling Center in June. The center was a longtime stop on the Professional Bowlers Association tour. Closure stemmed from the sale of the shopping center at Cedar and Shields avenues; Cedar Lanes was the anchor tenant.
The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6632, firstname.lastname@example.org
or @fresnomac on Twitter.