Top 10 sports stories of 2011

Published: Saturday, Dec. 31 2011 8:00 p.m. MST

The team could have attracted a bit more media attention thanks to the timing of the CONCACAF playoffs.

"I think the timing was good for them," said the News' Rock. "The Jazz were starting to fall apart; the gang was breaking up; the BYU men's team was out of the NCAA Tournament … It was a nice diversion from the usual menu."

9. Bye-bye, Boylen ... Hello, Larry

Utah fired head basketball coach Jim Boylen the day after his fourth season ended. Attendance had plummeted and players were defecting, but most believe it was about the back-to-back losing season (Utah finished the 2011 season with a 13-18 record). Three weeks later, Utah hired New Jersey Nets assistant coach Larry Krystkowiak, but putting the program back together has proven difficult as the Utes are in the midst of one of their worst seasons ever.

"The real story is the demise of the Utah basketball program," said Kinahan. "I covered them in the '90s and they rocked. To see this program as bad as it is, is literally shocking."

With the loss of players, most suspected Krystkowiak's squad would struggle, especially playing in the Pac-12.

"Everybody suspected this is what was going to happen," said Rock. "But they were willing to suspend reality, hoping some miracle would happen by the time the season came around."

10. Rise of the Aggies

Utah State football enjoyed its best season in more than 20 years. The Aggies advanced to a bowl game for the first time since 1997, and the season could have been even better — 10 of the team's 13 games were decided by a touchdown or less.

"What Gary (Andersen, head coach) did, for the first time, I can remember in years and years, they truly expected to win games," said Rock. "When they lost in the (Famous) Idaho Potato Bowl, it was genuine surprise and disappointment. The optimism is the most it's been in decades up there."

Raising expectations also means more opportunity to disappoint.

"I thought they'd do better," said Olsen. "I thought they'd win the WAC, and to watch Louisiana Tech win the WAC and watch USU flounder and lose ground, lose close games, it was a letdown for me. Watching what they did to BYU, it escalated my expectations."

The future does look promising for the Aggies, and just what that means for the landscape of football in Utah is unknown.

"They've always been everybody's second-favorite team," said Rock. "People usually like the Utes or the Cougars and then everybody is kind of pulling for the Aggies. What I want to know is how popular they'll be if they start beating Utah and BYU?"

Email: adonaldson@desnews.com

Honorable mentions

Conference realignment rumors keep fans — and sometimes college administrators — guessing as BYU was often involved in said rumors

Bingham has 13 seniors sign scholarship commitments with colleges on National Signing Day

Norm Chow hired as Utah's offensive coordinator, but then he leaves after one season to coach at Hawaii

Weber State head coach Ron McBride, 72, retires after 50 years in coaching

John L. Smith takes the Weber State head football coaching job

Jazz have a tremendous start and then end up missing the playoffs

NBA lockout delays the start of the season

Women's ski jumping is officially included in the Sochi Winter Olympics (2014), and then six months later Park City's Sarah Hendrickson, 17, wins the first FIS Women's Ski Jumping World Cup competition

St. George's Jay Don Blake breaks through on Senior Tour