AP's Top 10 Alabama sports stories in 2013
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) A list of the Top 10 sports stories of the year in Alabama as chosen by The Associated Press:
1. AUBURN'S TURNAROUND: Auburn went from 3-9 to 12-1 to match the biggest turnaround in college football history, going from 0-8 in the SEC to league champions in the process. That resurgence earned the Tigers a shot at the BCS championship Jan. 6 against Florida State in Pasadena, Calif.
2. TIDE'S TITLE: Alabama opened the year with a dominating win over Notre Dame to claim a second straight national championship and third in four years. The Tide fell short of the first three-peat in the AP poll era, going back to 1937.
3. IRON BOWL FINISH: It was one of the more dramatic endings in college football history. Chris Davis's 109-yard return of a missed field goal on the final play gave Auburn a 34-28 victory. It's the first time a major college game had ended on such a play and only the fourth TD scored in that fashion.
4. AWARDS: Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is AP coach of the year. AJ McCarron won the Johnny Unitas Award and the Maxwell Award and was the Heisman Trophy runner-up. Teammate C.J. Mosley captured the Butkus Award as the nation's top linebacker. Auburn's Tre Mason was sixth in the Heisman voting.
5. MALZAHN'S YEAR: Besides coach of the year honors, Malzahn also collected a big pay raise. He agreed to a six-year contract worth $3.85 million annually on the eve of the SEC championship game against Missouri.
6. BAMA FALLS SHORT: Alabama is 11-1 and bound for the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma. A great season by most standards, but Nick Saban and the Tide was hoping to add to its title collection. Saban did receive a hefty pay raise that silenced persistent scuttlebutt that he might replace Mack Brown at Texas.
7. PLAYOFF RUNS: Jacksonville State's football team advanced to the FCS quarterfinals for the first time before losing 35-24 to Eastern Washington, capping an 11-4 debut season for coach Bill Clark. North Alabama made it to the Division II quarterfinals before losing 42-39 to eventual runner-up Lenoir-Rhyne.
8. HOOPS STRUGGLES: The state of Alabama was shut out of the NCAA men's basketball tournament. Alabama did make it to the NIT quarterfinals before losing 58-57 to Maryland. Auburn, meanwhile, was 9-23 and lost 16 of its last 17 games. However, UAB turned heads with an upset of then-No. 16 North Carolina.
9. TOOMER'S TREES: Alabama fan Harvey Updyke, who fatally poisoned the iconic oaks at Auburn's Toomer's Corner, served six months in jail. The trees were cut down and Auburn fans settled for celebrating wins by rolling toilet paper over a series of wires above the intersection.
10. POINT SHAVING: Former Auburn point guard Varez Ward was arrested in June for allegedly trying to fix games and offering money to teammates to help during the 2011-12 season. Ward's trial has been postponed until Feb. 10 and could be called off if he's granted admission to a pre-trial diversion program. He has pleaded not guilty.