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What's in store for 2008 . . .

December 30, 2007|From Times Staff Writers


You don't have to wait long for this one. On New Year's Day, NBC is betting that ice hockey can compete with Michigan versus Florida in the Capital One Bowl as it televises a game between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins from Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium, home of the Bills. More than 73,000 fans are expected to attend the first NHL game played outdoors in the United States. This is not expected to catch on in Southern California.


Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in 2007 became the first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.

Why not a quarterback from Appalachian State in 2008?

No player from a lower-division school has won the Heisman since the NCAA split the classifications in 1978 to Division I-A and Division I-AA, but Edwards should get preseason consideration.

The junior-to-be isn't big, at 6 feet and 175 pounds, but he has had a huge impact on the sport.

It started Sept. 1, when Edwards led his Mountaineers to one of the biggest upsets in college football history, a 34-32 win over Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Appalachian State ended the season by winning its third national championship in a row, a 49-21 victory over Delaware.

Giving lower-division players their due is not unprecedented. Gordie Lockbaum of Holy Cross finished third in the Heisman balloting in 1987, and Alcorn State's Steve McNair finished third in 1994.


Jane Park will be in her first full season on the LPGA Tour after winning the qualifying tournament last month, and if her amateur career is any indication, this former UCLA Bruin from Beaumont is poised for success as a professional.

Park, 21, won the 2004 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship and was runner-up in 2003. She finished 10th in the 2006 U.S. Women's Open as an amateur and quit UCLA later that year to turn professional.

In 2007, she had conditional status on the LPGA, played 11 tournaments and made the cut in nine. She finished in the top 20 twice and earned $64,469, which was good for 109th on the money list.


The soft drink manufacturer that brought you Turkey and Gravy Soda has been around for a few years, but what's new is that it is beginning to compete with the heavyweights. Much as UnderArmour, the once-small Baltimore company did when it took on Nike and Reebok for apparel contracts with college teams, Jones is battling Coca-Cola and Pepsi for the lucrative concessions business in arenas. It won out over Coca-Cola at the Seattle Seahawks' Qwest Field last year and beat Coca-Cola and Pepsi for the contract to the New York Nets' Barclays Center that will open in 2009 in Brooklyn.


The U.S. will have the biggest Beijing Olympics star in 4-foot-9 Shawn Johnson, who turns 16 on Jan. 19. She is the defending U.S. and world champion in gymnastics and wowed an international audience in Stuttgart, Germany, in September with her aggressive power and steely nerves. How her nerves hold up in a season where she will be pushed as the favorite to succeed Carly Patterson as Olympic all-around gold medalist in front of a hostile crowd in China will be a fascinating story line.


The jinx is over. In 2007, Street Sense became the first 2-year-old to follow a win in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with a win in the Kentucky Derby. In 2008, it is up to War Pass to keep the streak going. War Pass impressively won the Juvenile by 4 3/4 lengths with Cornelio Vasquez aboard. Trainer Nick Zito is currently giving War Pass a long rest in preparation for a Triple Crown run.


He denies it, but don't be surprised if he plays this year at Wimbledon. His appetite for a comeback was whetted by his success in exhibitions late this year against Roger Federer.


Barring one of the worst executive decisions since the Portland Trail Blazers selected Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA draft, women's professional basketball will gain a foothold in Los Angeles as never before. The groundwork will be laid this spring, when the Sparks are expected to select Parker of Tennessee with the first overall pick in the WNBA draft.

She's 6 feet 4 with a game as well-rounded as the basketball she dunks on a regular basis. Her personality is as grounded as one of her full-court bounce passes.

If that's not enough, People magazine selected her last spring as one of the "100 Most Beautiful People" of 2007. In this town, that always seems to matter more than it should.


When the NBA lobbied for Olympics events to be shown in prime time in the United States from Beijing, which is 15 hours ahead of Los Angeles, it targeted swimming and gymnastics. That no doubt has offended track and field fans, who always have considered their sport as No. 1 in the Summer Olympics' pecking order. But the sport is ready to make a comeback behind two U.S. sprinters. Tyson Gay won the 100 meters and the 200 in the world championships last year in Osaka, Japan, and Allyson Felix won the 200 meters and golds in both relays.


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