In honor of the final day of 2012, we participate in the widely-practiced tradition of recapping the previous 365 days in WSU sports (OK, just football and men's basketball, because those are the sports we cover). Read on for musings.
MOST OUTSTANDING PLAYER — After some deliberation, I settled on two candidates: Brock Motum, the reigning Pac-12 men's basketball scoring champion, and Travis Long, who finished in the top 20 in the country in sacks (9.5) and established himself as the most consistent, productive player on the football team. In the end, the nod goes to Motum. His case is aided by the fact that he's been able to continue finding ways to score so far this season (which still counts toward his 2012 calendar year resume) despite being the primary concern of opposing defenses. Motum already ranks 17th on the school's career scoring list, and can ascend into the top five if he maintains his current pace of 19.7 points per game (WSU is guaranteed at least 19 more games this season). But his coming-out party was in 2012, when he emerged as one of the conference's most clever — if unorthodox — scorers in his first year as a full-time starter.
MOST MEMORABLE GAME — I thought about putting this to a vote this week, but I think I can guess what the top result would have been. The Apple Cup win over Washington will be remembered as WSU's brightest 2012 memory. Heck, they're still playing highlights of the overtime period during basketball games. The win capped a 3-9 season, a result far worse than many anticipated. But wins over Washington have a funny way of making the bad seem just a little bit more tolerable. That's exactly what WSU's 31-28 win over the Huskies did this season.
MOST MEMORABLE PLAY — It would stand to reason that this selection would be taken from the most memorable game. And it is. There were a few candidates, but I think the most lasting image of 2012 will be that of Toni Pole intercepting Keith Price's first pass in overtime and rumbling nearly all the way in for a game-winning touchdown. Eventually, that highlight might rank up there with Drew Bledsoe's pass to Phillip Bobo in Apple Cup lore.
STORY OF THE YEAR — Mike Leach's implementation of a coaching style that didn't sit well with everyone, most notably Marquess Wilson, whose allegations of abuse prompted a dual-pronged investigation by the school and the Pac-12. WSU's review of the program exonerated Leach and his staff. The results of the Pac-12 review are still to come.
QUOTE OF THE YEAR — A few to choose from here. But we go back to spring football for this cinematic reference from Leach, who was asked a question about the status of quarterback Connor Halliday's health:
“Any stuff on that is so closely guarded. I don’t know if you saw Harry Potter, but in the basement of this building, it’s guarded by serpents and wild dogs and things like that, and you can go try to find the secret to that, but chances of survival — always a risk. Heck, it took until movie five before he got it done himself and he had magic powers. Anyway, he’s doing just fine and we’re excited about him.”
FUNNIEST IN-GAME MOMENT OF THE YEAR — This one: