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Ed Graney: 2010 Year in Review – Top 10 Picks in Sports

10. Jim Livengood is no Mike Hamrick.

Thank goodness.

UNLV athletics might have a chance.

In his first year as the university’s athletic director, Livengood hired coaches in football (Bobby Hauck) and baseball (Tim Chambers) who could change the fortunes of both programs, announced a new, state-of-the-art basketball practice facility, restructured the department, reorganized fundraising and facility upgrade efforts, and had one more sit-down with local media to discuss the program’s vision than Hamrick had in six years.

9. Golf shockers.

Yeah. Try following this if you’re hitting second:

Jonathan Byrd made a hole-in-one on the fourth playoff hole to win the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open at TPC Summerlin in October.

Byrd hit a 6-iron on the 204-yard 17th as darkness threatened to push play to Monday. His tee shot landed 10 feet from the cup and rolled in to the applause of the few remaining fans.

And who says the Fall Series lacks for drama?

8. Did Al Davis attend Bishop Gorman?

Just win, baby, is right.

Maybe the guy who engraves state championship trophies should just set up shop on the Gaels’ campus.

In February, Bishop Gorman won the girls basketball state title for the fourth time in five years and the boys team won its second straight.

In May, the baseball team won a fifth straight state crown.

This month, the football team won a second straight title.

The school not only offers facilities some college teams would covet, it has more hardware than Home Depot.

7. Bobby Hauck: Bring your hardhat and lunch pail, boys.

Where is the good in a 2-11 season for a UNLV football team that was outscored 516-239?

Well, any win for the Rebels is a good win and who can forget those spankings of New Mexico and Wyoming during Hauck’s first season as coach?

More importantly, as the latest architect trying to prove his blueprints will finally put UNLV football on the map, or at least give it a chance not to lose to UNR by 30, Hauck’s reputation as a recruiter and coach who won’t whine about the size of his locker room are seen as positives for the future.

6. Kyle Busch could probably drive your kid’s Tonka truck.

Jimmie Johnson has his five straight Sprint Cup championships. Fine. Dandy. Congrats on that.

He’s just not the world’s best all-round driver today. Busch is.

The Las Vegas native won 24 of the 81 races he entered in NASCAR’s top three national series. His rookie trucks team won the ownership championship and his 13 Nationwide wins delivered Joe Gibbs Racing that owner’s title.

Busch still might be considered the Chick Hicks of NASCAR, but nobody can question the man’s ability or his taste in burgers (props to In-N-Out).

5. Herculez Gomez reaches a world stage.

Herculez, not the son of Jupiter and Alcmena, has a better weapon than the guy who spelled his name with an S and was identified by a gnarled club.

Try a deadly right foot.

Gomez became the first Las Vegan to make a World Cup team and played well for the American side that was eliminated by Ghana in the round of 16 in South Africa.

The former Las Vegas High star came off the bench to aid in a 2-2 tie against Slovenia and started the final Group C match against Algeria.

4. Floyd Mayweather Jr. makes $22.5 million for beating up an old man.

OK, so Shane Mosley was only 38 when Mayweather won a unanimous decision in May at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mosley only looked 98.

Mayweather was nearly beaten in the second, but gathered himself to win every round thereafter and improve his record to 41-0. Mayweather threw 477 punches and landed 208. Moses, I mean Mosley, threw 452, landed 92 and he made $7 million for looking like Abe Vigoda in boxing trunks.

3. Shake, rattle and roll: Life in the Mountain West Conference.

That 9.5 earthquake in Chile back in 1960 has nothing on what happened to the Mountain West.

The summer of expansion didn’t hit college athletics with the life-altering effects some predicted, but by the time Santa began packing his sled, the Mountain West had lost Brigham Young, Texas Christian and Utah while gaining Boise State, UNR, Fresno State and Hawaii (for football only).

Where is the good in that? Hey, if anything pushes the Mountain West to seek a better TV package, such an abundance of change in membership should.

2. UNLV basketball tastes the madness again.

A return to the NCAA Tournament, to the national rankings, to a legitimate television deal.

(OK, the last part’s totally untrue, but we continue to hope like nobody’s business).

The Rebels were consistently terrific the past 12 months, ending the 2009-10 season with 25 wins and the program’s third trip to the NCAAs in the last four seasons. They then began this season 9-0 and ranked as high as 20th.

Better yet, every UNLV coach and player now has a killer word to use when needing that big Scrabble victory on road trips: Farokhmanesh.

1. The magical baseball season that was Bryce Harper and College of Southern Nevada.

I’m thinking Harper’s decision to leave high school early worked out just fine.

His departure from Las Vegas High following his sophomore year and enrolling at CSN translated into 52 wins and a trip to the Junior College World Series. It also gained enough attention for head coach Chambers to finally secure the UNLV job he deserved for years.

Harper crushed a school-record 31 home runs for CSN and brought an almost mythical-type following to the program. He won the Golden Spikes Award as the country’s top amateur player, was baseball’s No. 1 overall draft pick by the Washington Nationals and began a national trend that now has elderly grandmothers smearing eye black down their cheeks at T-ball games.

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