What does it say about someone who celebrates their 10 most heartbreaking moments of the decade? I didn't include Sean Taylor's because it seems trivial to rank someone's death against the 2002 National Title Game or
Cincinnati and TCU fans would refer to Texas' field hooked just inside the left goal post as time ran out in the Big XII Championship Game. Trojans fans will never scratch the image from their retinas of Vince Young shedding tackle after tackle on play after play before scrambling into the endzone on 4th and 5 at the 2006 Rose Bowl.
It was also a trying decade for a couple of legends as well. Michael Jordan has endured the humiliation of drafting Kwame Brown and getting canned by the Washington Wizards before taking on the role of general manager with the Charlotte Bobcats. Isiah Thomas' reputation took a tragic tumble into the abyss after he was accused of sexual harrassment by a woman twice his size, blackmailed by Stephon Marbury and eventually alienating Magic Johnson.
Duke's Miracle Minute
Shane Battier was the bane of the existence for Terps fans. A latter day Tim Tebow to the Georgia Bulldogs, or Godzilla to Japan. Add Jason Williams to the mix as his diminutive, more talented and slightly less celebrated assistant-- Igor.
In overtime of a nationally televised matchup against Duke, the Terps mounted a run which gave them an insurmountable 10 point lead with just 1:08 to play.
Thats when Jason Williams slashed to the basket for an uncontested layup, wrestled away the inbounds pass and swished a 3 pointer to pull Duke within 5. Drew Nicholas then clanked two free throws and within seconds Jason Williams raced coast to coast and nailed a pull up J from downtown. On the ensuing inbounds Duke mugged Drew Gilchrist,
Within 20 seconds the Blue Devils had sliced a runaway 10 point lead into a 2 point nailbiter.
This was the season, the Terps were to establish themselves as championship contenders and the loss contributed to the mindset that Coach K's teams were invincible. The loss was compounded, however, by ...
Maryland's Loss in 2001 Final Four to Duke
The Terrapins first Final Four appearance in school history earned them a rematch with the Blue Devils wholesome Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, Chris Duhon, and Jason Williams foursome. It was also the fourth meeting of the season between the two programs and the first since Duke escaped with an 82-84 victory in the ACC Semifinals.
The Terps appeared on route to a national championship berth with a built in 39-17 first half advantage. However, Duke scrapped back into the contest until trading
Duke proceeded to rip the Arizona Wildcats and claimed he national championship.
Maryland's 2002 return trip helped mitigate the pain of this blow.
West Virginia loss to Pitt in 2007 Backyard Brawl
- I will never forget this loss as long as I live. From the beginning of summer practices until that frigid December night in the last hours of the regular season, I had my chips on West Virginia bringing a championship to Morgantown. I proclaimed in an August blog that the Mountaineers would shed their label as the winningest program in college football history without a national championship. In the aftermath of an early season loss to South Florida, . However, the dominos continued to fall, including the shattering of Mizzou's crystal ball aspiratins until the Mountaineers were safely positioned as the #1 team in the nation. Their remaining obstacle was to simply outscore the sub .500 Pittsburgh Panthers in the 100th edition of the Backyard Brawl.
In the end, an offense averaging 40 points per game, mustered only 9 and their two missed two field goals proved to be the difference in a 13-9 contest.
It's since become apparent, that the West Virginia Mountaineers are college football's 20th century, Boston Red Sox and college football's national championship will never rest in Morgantown. Days later West Virginia's 2008 championship aspirations were incinerated as Rich Rodriguez left for Michigan and Steve Slaton (as well as Darius Reynaud) bolted into the NFL Draft.
Ohio State Wins National Championship on Phantom Interference Flag
The '02 Hurricanes, 2003 Oklahoma Sooners, and '05 USC Trojans coasted through the regular season earned a billing as one of the greatest teams of alll-time before falling short of the national championships.
Willis McGahee filled in for Clinton Portis, Sean Taylor stepped in for Ed Reed and Kellen Winslow Jr. filled in Jeremy Shockey's vacant starting position. The 2002 Miami Hurricanes breezed through the schedule into a date with the offensive inept, and the conservatively coached Ohio State Buckeyes.
After Miami had taken the lead in overtime, Ohio State's quarterback Craig Krenzel's threw an incompletion in the end zone, as it appeared that Miami had won their 2nd straight title. However, as the Miami team began to race on the field they realized there was a late flag thrown on the play for pass interference. Given their second opportunity the Buckeyes punched it in for a touchdown and Miami was unable to match it. Jim Tressel won the national championship in only his second year as head coach and snapped Miami's 34 game winning streak.
However, this loss ranks up on the list because not only did it snap Miami's consecutive games winning streak but it was the result of the worst officiating call of the decade. It has become a recurring theme. 3 of the 4 best teams of this decade went home empty handed. Ultimately, a good old fashioned thrashing at the hands of Kansas State in the Big XII Championship Game, and a loss in a gentlemen's duel against LSU at the BCS title game did them in.
Lakers Lose in 5 to Pistons-
Entering the series, L.A. was considered a heavy favorite to the defensive oriented Detroit Pistons. Not only was this the series which put the nail in the coffin of the Lakers dynasty but it was the unceremonious conclusion to a 20 year title chase for Karl Malone, arguably the best true power forward to ever play the game. Aside from Kobe Bryant's pivotal 3 pointer in regulation of Game 2 which led to the Lakers lone victory the Pistons had total control over this series. All 5 games were an assault on the Lakers on both ends of the court.
And thus, the most unspectacular champion of the last 30 years was crowned at the expense of a certifiable dynasty. Soon after, Karl Malone ended his pursuit of a ring with dignity, Gary Payton latched onto O'Neal in Miami and Derek Fisher migrated to Utah.
Colts Lose to Steelers
Probably on par with West Virginia's loss for the most devastating moment of the decade. There were a litany of reasons to rally around the Colts. Peyton Manning seemed poised to take Indianapolis to the promised land on the heels of a dominating regular season. Their revamped defense and explosive offense made them the logical favorites while the suicide of Tony Dungy's son made them a sentimental favorite.
With 1:20 left in regulation, the Steelers clinched the win by sacking Peyton Manning on his goal line.
The loss was devastating enough until fate intervened. The Steelers handed Jerome Bettis the fooball on a goal line dive play, however, a Colts defender popped the ball loose from the Bus' grasp and Nick Harper scooped it up. With a platoon of blockers and a wide open field in front of him, Nick Harper, who'd been stabbed in the knee the night before came a shoelace away from scoring the most relevant defensive touchdown in NFL history. Unfortunately, a severe brain cramp convinced Harper to cut inside towards Ben Roethlisberger.
Manning was still able to get the "idiot kicker" Mike Vanderjagt into position for a 46 yard field goal. The most accurate kicker in NFL history lined up from the left hashmark and shanked it to the left. Peyton Manning and the Colts recovered for a Super Bowl victory but Vanderjagt's career was derailed by that kick. After the Colts released him into Witness Protection from angry Colts fans, the Cowboys offered protection and a starting role. In between that period, Vanderjagt went from the most accurate to headcase and within a year he was out of the league.
Game 6 2002 World Series Giants v. Angels
Just one season after shattering Mark McGwire's single season home run record, Bonds was on the verge of also exercising his playoff demons. Up 5-0 in the bottom of the 7th inning, the Giants were lulled into a false blanket of security as the champagne was visibly brought out to the team dugout.
After a groundout by Gary Anderson, consecutive batters singled to cover 1st and 2nd base. Batting 4th in the inning Scott Spiezio was backed into a 3-2 pitch count, which he hammered out of the park for a 3 run homer.
At the bottom of the 8th, Darrin Erstad homered and Troy Glaus followed with a double which brought in 2 runs to put the Angels ahead 6-5. The Giants never recovered,and were swiftly discarded in Game 7.
Redskins-Bucs, 2000 Divisional Playoffs
The game was a duel between one of the NFL's best defenses and one of the NFL's worst. Conversely, it was a matchup between one of the NFL's best offenses and one of it's worst.Two field goals along with record holding kick returner Brian Mitchell's 100 yard kickoff return and a staunch defensive effort gift wrapped a 13-0 lead midway through the 3rd quarter. However, the Bucs staged a comeback, giving them a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter. Fortunately, the Skins were able to drive down the field to get into position for a 50 yard field goal.
Unfortunately, a bad snap from long snapper Dan Turk to Brad Johnson, vaulted the Tampa Bay Bucs into the NFC Championship Game against St. Louis. The Redskins slumped back home. The ensuing loss gave Dan Snyder the ammunition to construct the 2000 Redskins; an abomination upon the football gods and the salary cap.
The entire 2000 Redskins Season
They were a a grand experiment as the first NFL team to shatter $100 million in salaries, which launched a decade of Dan Snyder's meddling. The 2000 Redskins were a Large Hadron Collision of over the hill superstars from the 90's, mounds of cash and carry over hype from the previous season's 10-6 record and 2nd ranked offense.
Jeff George, Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, Mark Carrier and Adrian Murrel. However, the 2000 Draft also produced LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels with the 2nd and 3rd overall picks. Overall, Jeff George was released the following season, Deion Sanders had an otherwise forgetful season and Mark Carrier retired after the season. Adrian Murrell, the most inexplicable signing of all considering Stephen Davis was coming off a Pro Bowl season, was used sparingly and was cut after the season. 14 weeks into the season Norv Turner was fired after 7 seasons as head coach.