Top 10 sports stories: Utes, Cougars and all that Jazz, etc.

Published: Saturday, Jan. 1 2011 9:00 p.m. MST

Mendenhall chose to use both quarterbacks for the first three games of the season, and the result was chaos. Just recently, Mendenhall admitted that the season-opening win against Washington convinced him he could use both quarterbacks this season. He went on to say that he mishandled the situation, although it also taught him valuable lessons.

On Sept. 21, the controversy was settled for the Cougars' coaches when Nelson had to have season-ending shoulder surgery. Heaps struggled against Nevada and Utah State, but then proved to be very much the talent recruiters once predicted he'd be. He finished the season with a winning record and a bowl win against UTEP. Meanwhile, Mendenhall fired Hill as his defensive coordinator and took over defensive coordinating duties himself. The result was an inspired and effective defense.

All was not well that ended well, however, as Mendenhall released his entire offensive staff after the bowl victory and asked them to reapply for their positions. Anae chose to leave BYU instead.

No. 4 The streak ends at nine

The streak ended in Sin City.

For nine consecutive seasons, the Utes owned postseason football magic. It did not seem to matter where; it did not seem to matter who. While some teams just celebrate the opportunity to play in a bowl game year after year, the Utes owned an impressive win streak.

But on Dec. 22, that streak ended when 10th-ranked Boise State whipped the Utes 26-3.

No. 5 Utahns win in the Winter Games

Utahns made their mark all over the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver.

Utahn Steve Holcomb won the first gold medal in four-man bobsled for the U.S. in 62 years by piloting the Night Train down the world's most treacherous track in Whistler. Then Park City native Eric Camerota and Park City resident Billy Demong teamed up with Steamboat Springs residents Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane to earn the first Nordic Combined team medal in U.S. History.

Park City's Stephani Victor won two silvers and a gold in the Paralympic alpine events. Park City native Ted Ligety won the overall World Cup title in giant slalom, but left the 2010 Olympics empty handed, while part-time Park City resident Lindsey Vonn won World Cup titles, Olympic medals and the AP's Athlete of the Year award, making her the first skier to earn that honor.

No. 6 Jimmer: Now everyone else knows his name

Jimmer Fredette shattered record after record as he led the BYU men's basketball team to places they hadn't been in years. He set a BYU single-game record of 49 points against Arizona and then scored a tournament-record 45 points against TCU in the quarterfinals of the MWC tournament.

The native of Glens Falls, N.Y., then scored 37 points, including two 3-pointers in overtime, in leading the Cougars to first-round NCAA Tournament win over Florida. His total tied a scoring record held by Danny Ainge in 1981, and the win marked the first time BYU had reached the second round of the tournament in 17 years.

He then shocked national pundits when he returned to BYU for his senior season, where he was named one of the country's best players in preseason polls.

No. 7 Realignment realities

The possibility of Highland, Springville and Orem playing sports in the 3A ranks against schools like Delta, Juab and North Sanpete caused the biggest headlines in prep sports this year.

Realignment is always controversial, but this year was unique for several reasons. First, the Board of Trustees approved a new procedure meant to keep politics out of the debate and consider more than strict population numbers. Second, the new system may have limited debate but it did not reduce controversy.

When the numbers were released, three 4A powerhouses were considered for alignment in the 3A classification. In the end, the BOT deviated from the new system to keep all three in 4A, which only created more controversy for those schools not given an exception.

No. 8 The best team in Utah high school football — ever?

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