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Eight of the most improbable sentences to be uttered in the sports world

The Arizona Cardinals are in the Super Bowl. Repeat that: The Arizona Cardinals are in the Super Bowl. The entire sports world, it seems, has been turned upside down. But it was out of whack before the Cards advanced to the big game Sunday. We have documented proof. Just talk to a Rays fan. Here are other signs that sports has gone mad. Who would have ever thought we'd be uttering these sentences:

"Indiana is in last place in the Big Ten."

When you think college basketball, one of the first programs you think of is Indiana. Just the name conjures images of basketball hoops nailed to telephone poles on snow-dusted patches of dirt. Then you think of IU and those red and white uniforms in legendary Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers have won five national titles and 20 Big Ten championships, and they have made 35 NCAA Tournaments. But, my, how the bottom has fallen out. For starters, IU is on its fourth coach in the past four years. Tom Crean, right, is in charge of restoring the program, but the going is slow. How slow? The Hoosiers are 5-12 overall, 0-5 in the Big Ten and coming off a 10-point loss at home to Penn State. Penn State!

"The Canadiens haven't won a Stanley Cup in 16 years."

Montreal hasn't even been to a Stanley Cup final since 1993. You might not think that's a big deal seeing as how the Blackhawks haven't won a Cup since 1961 and the Maples Leafs haven't won since 1967. But this is the Canadiens we're talking about. From 1943 to 1993, they never went longer than seven years without winning a Cup. But in the past 16 years, as teams such as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars (teams not exactly in hockey hotbeds) have won Cups, the greatest franchise in NHL history has not lifted the most famous trophy in sports.

"The Cowboys haven't won a playoff game in 13 years."

They are called America's team because of all the success they've had. They've won five Super Bowls and appeared in three others. They missed the playoffs only once from 1966 to 1983. From 1992 to 1995, they went 10-1 in the playoffs, with three Super Bowl wins. In the 1996 playoffs, they stretched that mark to 11-1 with a wild-card victory over the Vikings. But that is the last playoff victory for Jerry Jones, right. Since then, the Cowboys have missed the postseason seven times, including this season, when some had them penciled in for the Super Bowl. In that span, their playoff losing streak has stretched to seven games.

"The Rays are the defending AL champions."

Still the most improbable sports story in recent memory. Think about it. If someone had come up to you last summer and said, "Which has a better chance of happening, the Cardinals going to the Super Bowl or the Rays going to the World Series?", would anybody besides Joe Maddon, right, have picked the Rays? Come to think of it, Maddon is a huge Cardinals fan, so he might have said the Cardinals, too. If anyone else says they would've picked the Rays, we'd look to see if your pants are on fire.

"Notre Dame hasn't won a national title in 20 years."

Notre Dame is to college football what UCLA, Indiana and Kentucky are to college basketball. Probably more. The Irish have the richest tradition in college football. Yet you have to go back to 1988 to find the last Irish team to win a national title, and that drought appears nowhere close to ending. Coach Charlie Weis, right, has gone 10-15 the past two seasons, the most losses over two years in the history of the program, which started in 1887.

"Notre Dame hasn't had a Heisman Trophy winner in 21 years."

The Heisman Trophy was started in 1935, and Angelo Bertelli won Notre Dame's first in 1943. When Tim Brown won the Heisman in 1987, he was Notre Dame's seventh winner, the most at that time from any school. But since then, the Irish have been shut out of college football's most prestigious individual award. Rocket Ismail finished second in the voting in 1990, and Brady Quinn was third in 2006. Since then, no Notre Dame player has finished in the top three.

"Tennessee women's basketball slipped out of the Top 10."

When the Associated Press women's college basketball poll came out a month ago, Tennessee was ranked 11th, thus ending one of the most incredible streaks in sports. It was the first time since March 3, 1997, that Pat Summitt, right, and the Vols were not ranked in the Top 10. That streak of 211 straight weeks in the Top 10 was 56 weeks longer than the men's record, held by John Wooden's UCLA Bruins. Eventually, the Vols slipped to No. 13, but they have worked their way back and now sit at No. 10.

"Raheem Morris is the new Bucs coach."

We sort of guessed that Jon Gruden someday would be fired as coach of the Bucs. We just didn't think it was going to be Friday. Maybe some would've guessed that Raheem Morris, right, was eventually going to be a head coach in the NFL, and maybe even with the Bucs. Just not now. We're not saying firing Gruden was good or bad. Or that hiring Morris is good or bad. Time will tell on both. We just never imagined either happening in the past three days.

Eight of the most improbable sentences to be uttered in the sports world 01/19/09 [Last modified: Monday, January 19, 2009 10:39pm]
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