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Monson: Sports in 2013 will have a familiar look and feel

Published December 28, 2012 9:47 am

A look ahead • Brace for more titles for Alabama, Duke and the San Francisco Giants.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

This is dangerous business we're attempting here, predicting what hasn't yet happened. I mean, look at the Mayans. They messed it up. We're all still here, and they're extinct. Even in smaller realms, like sports, it's no light chore looking ahead to 2013 and nailing it early.

Niels Bohr once said, "Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future." Dan Quisenberry said, "The future is much like the present, only longer." And our go-to guy, Yogi Berra, said, "The future ain't what it used to be."

Maybe not.

But it is a lot like what already was.

In sports, next year is going to look like this one. If you didn't like 2012, brace yourselves for what's rolling toward you. With a few exceptions, 2013 is going to be a rerun.

For example, Alabama is going to win the BCS championship game, again. Everyone who can't stand the SEC because it thinks it's better than everybody else, because it thinks it's the only conference that plays top-drawer football, had best take cover. Some observers dispute the conclusiveness of the SEC's championship win streak. But when the Tide beat the Irish, when that streak hits seven straight, it's going to be tough to talk any which way around that number. And we're all going to have to deal with the image of Nick Saban, in all his glory and false humility, to the left of us, to the right of us, all around us. 2013 can't spare us from that.

The Houston Texans will win their first Super Bowl. I'm nowhere near as solid on this prediction in December as I was in August, but only a chump would jump ship now. The Broncos have won 10 straight. The Packers have won nine of 10. Tom and the Pats are a major threat. The Falcons are there. The Niners could still be a force. The Seahawks are playing some mad D. And the Texans are in hand-me-a-wrench mode. Past playoffs have proved one thing: Whichever team gets hot at the right time wins the Super Bowl. Look for the Texans, wrench in hand, to heat up.

NHL arenas will remain dark. And if they don't, when the lights finally go on, nobody will give a flyin' puck.

Duke will fire through another NCAA basketball tournament. That's a departure from last time around, when Kentucky won it, but hardly a reach. Duke is Duke. Krzyzewski is Krzyzewski. Mason Plumlee is Mason Plumlee. And the Devils can shoot it, especially with their three-guard offense. Rebounding is a bit of a problem, and as Pat Riley always said, "No rebounds, no rings." But Duke has enough to get by. With the good karma flowing the Devils' way — welcome, Jabari Parker — Krzyzewski is destined to get to his 12th Final Four and fifth NCAA title.

Deep down, we all want to say the following seven impossible words: The Clippers will win the NBA title. Come on. It puts a smile on your face, doesn't it? I'll never forget walking through the Clippers' new practice facility a few years back and seeing an impressive glass trophy case near the front lobby. There wasn't a bit of hardware in it. It was completely empty. The franchise that for a couple of decades was the embodiment of pro sports embarrassment is now playing with its hair on fire. The Clips are really good. So are the OKC Thunder. Everybody knows that. Just like everybody knows that, in the end, nobody's going to beat the Miami Heat. It's not as though Miami is a team for the ages. It's just that the Heat have enough so that when they have to win in this year's NBA, they will. And LeBron James is unlike any basketball player who has ever dribbled a Spalding across the planet.

As for the Jazz, they will be what they were last season — a marginally good team that will have to bloody its knuckles to make the playoffs.

In Major League Baseball, much to the disappointment of network executives and fans for every other team, the Giants and Tigers will meet in the World Series, again. Even if they don't, the Giants will be there — and they'll win, again. There's too much pitching on that team, both starting and in the bullpen, and enough hitting, enough Buster Posey, for San Francisco to win its third World Series in four years. The Giants have some nice prospects down on the farm who could emerge in 2013. Forget about the Nationals, the Reds and the Cards in the NL, the Giants are staying where they are.

College football in Utah will end up within shouting distance of where it was in 2012, which isn't particularly blessed news for BYU and Utah. The Utes will continue to struggle in the Pac-12, although they could slightly improve. The week-in, week-out grind of that league has gotten the better of Kyle Whittingham, and for those optimistically counting on Pac-12 membership to bring substantial gains in recruiting … uh, check back with us at the end of the 2013 season, when the Utes are essentially in the same spot they are now. The Cougars lose much of their fantastic defense, especially if Kyle Van Noy takes off for the NFL, and will be breaking in a new quarterback, presumably Taysom Hill, all against one of the program's toughest schedules ever. Do the math, and it doesn't look good. Utah State has terrific talent returning, and a new conference in which to play. But the loss of Gary Andersen will exact a toll, as will the diminished faith the Aggies have in whatever bill of goods the new head coach, Matt Wells, tries to sell them. Still, it could be that USU will be the only team in the state to enjoy a truly mediocre measure of success in college football in 2013 — a bowl game. More than half of all teams qualify, hardly a proud distinction.

An SEC team will make the BCS championship game, again, and, then, win it, again. But that's a problem for 2014.

Gordon Monson hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson