Third Annual Top Hats

Top Hat for Story of the Year:

We Are In Serious Denial
The investigation into whether Penn State did enough to prevent former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky from exploiting young boys and the investigation’s subsequent NCAA fallout wins Top Hat for Story of the Year because its effects will be felt for years to come. And even that is minor compared to the emotional scarring the real victims in this case are confronting.

In June, Gerald A. Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of the 48 sexual abuse charges he was facing. Former President Graham Spanier, vice president Gary Schultz and athletics director Tim Curley are now facing charges related to a possible coverup. (Amazingly, Spanier, though still yet to have his case resolved, has asked the court to loosen his travel restrictions so he can work with a “top-secret agency” on national security matters.) Penn State football is dealing with a four-year bowl ban, scholarship restrictions and a $60 million fine.

The scandal even played a small role in Big Ten conference expansion, as some league leaders felt that Penn State needed some neighbors out east to keep them from defecting should their football team stumble.

We Are Ohio Award:

Ohio beat Michigan. Enough said…Unless you’re Brady Hoke and need explained that it was a basketball game played in March, and Ohio is a school in Athens. The Bobcats, by the way, were one of four Ohio teams to make the Sweet Sixteen. That group also included Ohio State, which fell to Kansas in the Final Four.

Top Hat for Urban Renewal:

Urban Meyer got his first crack at Michigan as Ohio State’s head coach, and saw his team come away with a 26-21 victory. The win completed the Buckeyes 12-0 season, and Brady Hoke is still wondering how that qualified OSU for the Independence Bowl.

Top Hat for College’s Hook-up Culture:

A lot has been said and written about the new “hook-up” culture. It’s the new reality in college, all the casual relationships and flitting from partner to partner. Tradition be darned, you take what you want and then move on. Even the Big Ten added teams in Rutgers and Maryland. What? No, of course, I was talking about conference expansion. What did you think I meant?

It’s Not What It Looks Like, I Swear Award:

Yahoo’s Puck Daddy wrote an article on the flirtatious Nail Yakupov. There was a photo of a hatted woman smiling as Nail walked by accompanying the article. DARN YOU, GETTY IMAGES!

The “Oops, I Did It Again” Award:

Ohio University football won a postseason game for the second straight season thanks to their 45-14 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in the Independence Bowl. Meanwhile, for the first time in their roughly 45-year NFL history, the Bengals made the playoffs in back-to-back, regulation-length seasons.

I Call ‘Em Like I See ‘Em…Even When I Probably Shouldn’t Award

NFL Replacement Refs.

Olympics Go Swimmingly for Phelps and the Golden Girls:

Michael Phelps became the most decorated Olympian (22 medals, including 18 gold) in history, and Team USA won their first gold in women’s gymnastics since 1996. Although, what Fear the Hat will always remember about the Olympics is the epic battle between Lord Voldemort and Mary Poppins.

Top Hat for Best Performance in a Musical:

Sure, it sounds like a Tony Award, but we have two strong entries for this category. One belongs to the OSU students who hold a Master’s degree in how to Dougie. The other belongs to the Ohio State band, which clearly found the cheat code to a viral video.

The “You’re Going to Need a Drier Boat” Award:

After praising last year’s Carrier Classic, we’re obligated to point out a significant caveat. Water is wet, and it’s probably not best to schedule a game on a Navy vessel after the sun goes down.

The Day the LeBron Jokes Died:

By beating Oklahoma City, the Miami Heat won a championship in LeBron James second year with the team. So now we’ll have to resort to making fun of how LeBron travels all the time and never gets called for this. I will work really hard to do my part.

Top Hat for Best Hockey-Related Fireworks:

The Columbus Blue Jackets have put an admirable amount of energy into building a relationship with the team’s fans. As part of that effort, the Jackets celebrated the New Year and the city’s bicentennial with an indoor pyrotechnics display. Between the fireworks, their cannon and their tradition of early season collapses, the CBJ sure love things that go BOOM!

Top Hat for Worst Hockey-Related Fireworks:

Negotiations between NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA director Donald Fehr on a new labor agreement have certainly been explosive…and have threatened to blow up the entire season.

Other stories worth noting: The MAC had 7 teams reach bowl games, while Northern Illinois edged out Kent State in order to crash the BCS party. The BCS will finally give way to playoff. Tennessee basketball legend Pat Summitt retired. Adrian Peterson and Peyton Manning both put together campaigns worthy of Comeback Player of the Year honors, while Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III battled it out for Rookie of the Year. Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow fatigue. Rockets play-by-play man accused the Lakers of pooping their big boy pants. Lance Armstrong was stripped of his Tour de France titles. Bobby Petrino had some problems of his own when it comes to a bicycle not built for two. The Reds owned the second-best record in baseball this season, while a disappointing year led the Indians to part with Manny Acta and hire Terry Francona.

Did I miss anything? Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section. Visit the 2011 and 2010 Top Hats, or see what your fellow “Fear the Hat” readers offered as their submissions.


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