Top sports stories of 2012: Alabama's success, Auburn's failure and off-field woes

December 26, 2012 

The year in sports provided its share of thrills and chills, national championships, professional championships and state championships.

It also provided some lows with some athletes being charged with crimes.

Here is our selection for the top 10 sports stories of the year:

1. Alabama wins 2011 BCS national championship and 2012 SEC championship.

The Crimson Tide won its second BCS national title in three seasons with a 21-0 pasting of LSU in New Orleans.

Alabama made its way to the national championship game despite not winning the SEC title or event the Western Division title. Both of those crowns went to LSU with a 9-6 victory in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

The Tide lost again during the 2012 regular season -- this time to Texas A&M -- but the Tide rebounded and beat Georgia to win the SEC title.

2. Isaiah Crowell and Kyle Carter arrested in Athens; both leave Georgia.

Crowell, a former Carver star, had seemingly turned things around after a freshman season at Georgia that included SEC Freshman of the Year honors and multiple suspensions. But on June 29, Crowell was arrested on three weapons charges, two of which are felonies after the car he was driving was searched and a gun was found underneath the seat.Crowell was dismissed from the Georgia team by Coach Mark Richt, and he eventually transferred to Alabama State.

Carter, who led Columbus High to a third straight state baseball title in the spring, was arrested twice in the span of three months in Athens.

Police first charged him with a felony weapons charge after he alledgedly threatened a woman with a baseball bat in a dorm room. According to his father, that charge has been reduced to a misdemeanor.

In mid-November, Carter was arrested and charged with underage possession of alcohol and public intoxication.

He faced a 20-game suspension to start his freshman season in the spring but opted to transfer from Georgia.

3. Auburn's football team goes 3-9, Gene Chizik is fired and the Tigers bring Gus Malzahn back to be head coach.

After Malzahn left Auburn at the end of the 2011 season, Chizik hired Scot Loeffler to be the offensive coordinator. Chizik wanted Loeffler to change the Tigers' offense from the spread to a pro style.

The move was a disaster and, combined with the worst defense in Auburn's history, led to a 3-9 season.

That led to Chizik's firing in early December. Malzahn was hired as his replacement shortly thereafter.

4. Jarvis Jones earns consensus All-American honors for second straight season.

After a breakout season in 2001, Jones, a former Carver standout, followed with another spectacular year in 2012.

In addition to earning consensus All-American honors, Jones finished 10th in the Heisman Trophy balloting and was a finalist for every major defensive award.

5. Columbus baseball wins third straight state title, ties Marist for most ever.

On a hot and stifling afternoon at Ringgold High, the Blue Devils, led by Carter and JT Phillips, swept past Ringgold for a Class AAA state title.

In addition to being the Blue Devils' third straight, it was the program's 12th championship, all since 1983 and all under coach Bobby Howard.

6. The Columbus Cottonmouths swept through the Southern Professional Hockey League playoffs and won the league title for the second time, but the first since 2005.

The Snakes won the title on April 12 with a 3-1 win at Pensacola.

7. Georgia wins second straight SEC Eastern title.

The Bulldogs looked to be out of the running after a blowout loss at South Carolina in early October. But the Gamecocks lost a pair of games later in the month, and Georgia won out, beating Florida and Auburn to clinch the Eastern Division.

8. Smiths Station man arrested and jailed in New Orleans

Alabama football fan Brian Downing was arrested in January in New Orleans on sexual battery and obscenity charges after a video went viral showing him placing his genitals on a man at a Krystal's after Alabama's BCS win over LSU.

Downing pled guilty to two obscenity charges and was sentenced to two years in prison in November.

His lawyer said he will likely serve about nine months.

9. Carver advanced to state quarterfinals for the seventh straight season.

The sustained success that Dell McGee has brought to Carver resulted in the Tigers earning a seventh straight trip to the state quarterfinals.

The Tigers were knocked out of the state playoffs by Buford.

10. Current and former Auburn football players killed.

Two members of the 2011 Auburn football team -- Ladarious Phillips and Ed Christian -- were shot and killed in early June during a party at an Auburn apartment complex.

Another person at the party was also killed.

Desmonte Leonard turned himself in a few days later to U.S. Marshals in Montgomery.

Leonard was charged with three counts of capital murder as well as numerous other charges.

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