THAT'S A WRAP. 2013 is over, We're just taking a knee, flipping the ball to the referee and leaving the pitch in triumphant fashion.
The events of this year questioned everything you thought you knew, and tested your emotions. From this seat, there were few dull moments.
In no order whatsoever, my sample of favorite, shocking or strange moments of 2013, interspersed with a few big questions for 2014:
n Marshall was 4-3 and had just lost at Conference USA newcomer Middle Tennessee, and Thundering Herd fans start computing coach Doc Holliday's buyout. Another half-season later, the Herd finishes 10-4, kills East Carolina and roughs up Maryland in the fourth quarter, causing West Virginia fans to plot Holliday's return to Morgantown.
Hey, Florida Atlantic wanted the guy. First, he can recruit south Florida. Second, he is the last person on Earth to visit Key West's Fantasy Fest during an off-week. (That played a part in coach Carl Pelini's drug-related downfall.)
On Monday, athletic director Mike Hamrick brought up the idea of giving Holliday an extension. What a difference a few games makes, eh?
n Essray Taliaferro became Marshall's top running back, Gator Hoskins turned into a touchdown machine at tight end and Alex Bazzie morphed into a beast at defensive end.
I'm sure all of you recruitniks saw that coming, right?
A lot of us considered Taliaferro one of those "spring wonders," Hoskins waaaaay too small to be a tight end and Bazzie just another face in the linebacker-turned-end crowd.
Shoot, I can construct a case for Hoskins as the team MVP. He made red-zone offense look easy with his ability to get wide open in the end zone, but he also made two enormous fourth-quarter catches (vs. FAU and Maryland), both followed by overpowering running. One scored a touchdown, while the other put Marshall at the Terrapins' 8-yard line.
The moral of these two items: Instant analysis can be soooo overrated.
n WVU fans should be flinging their finest china across the room in disgust.
You go 7-0 against Team B in a now-ended series. The next season, your team takes on Team C and gets pasted, even blanked. Then your team on Team C in Team C's back yard and loses 37-0. Then a few months later, Team B goes into team C's back yard and gains 300 more total yards, four times more first downs and 31 more points than your Team A did.
I see why some fans want to find $11 mil to buy out Dana Holgorsen. Have a bake sale or two.
n I want all home-team radio announcers in the press box during MU road games. Between the failure to research Marshall and butchering "Frohnapfel," we had 60 minutes of comedy. Just so you know, analyst Rick "Doc" Walker said in separate moments that Herd and Cato "were better than advertised."
How exactly was Cato advertised, I ask?
I even want Florida International's broadcast team in that itty bitty press box, as long as that if that means the relocation of the public-address announcer. Sitting on a sofa (no kidding), our motley quartet following MU had to listen to this guy yell for four quarters, except when he "handed off" to some disc jockey on field level to yell when the visitors faced third down.
n Along those lines, FIU is a joke.
Conference USA took a chance on a number of "developing" FBS programs when it reloaded the membership. FAU and Middle Tennessee made up a later round of C-USA additions, and it's mindboggling in retrospect that FIU was picked over them.
The promise the Panthers' football program had back in 2011 has vanished, thanks to Pete Garcia's brilliant firing of Mario Cristobal. The Panthers' basketball program has no shot at the postseason (APR problems) because of Garcia's brilliant hiring of Isiah Thomas a few years back.
The new football stadium is a half-scale takeoff on Central Florida's erector-set "bounce house," only without any fans to provide the "bounce." I intentionally showed up 10 minutes before kickoff because, in part, I could get by with it.