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“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

—Winston Churchill.

The irony of my problem every year scribing a “Year In Review” column is thicker than Cache Valley air in February.

I love lists. I obsess over end-of-year lists. I compete in a New Year’s Day parade where the order of march is memorized by all of the parade’s participants from the day it is drawn. The order of finish for the past 30 years of that parade is etched in my brain.

Even now, on Twitter, I am doing my own list of best string band performances from that parade. I read the nominees for the Grammy Awards—all 973 categories! And I do not even listen to modern music, or watch the awards show itself. I just love lists.

And movies? Yeah. I am all in with award shows; as well as “best of…” and “worst of…” lists. As a challenge, I was asked by a friend to complete a “canonical” list of my favorite 100 movies. Two years later, I still have not truly finished that list. (NOTE: “The Godfather” is #1.)

I wait to hear who TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year is. This year, they choose everyone who is fighting the Ebola Virus. Good choice. The Merriam-Webster Word of the Year is culture. Another good choice. Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year? Madison Bumgarner. If anyone asked “Who?” when you read that, you now know how far baseball has fallen in the American consciousness.

I love reading the New York Times in December. Lists are bountiful there. Google is also a great nugget for lists. The top Google search for 2014 was Robin Williams.

Here is a trivia question for you. Which of the following was not a Google 2014 Top 5 “Most Searched Places”?

  1. McDonald’s
  2. Starbucks
  3. Ukraine
  4. Wal-Mart

The answer is at the bottom.

So, what kind of list should I put out for my final column of 2014? None? Then what? I suppose I can talk about who I think should be the person of the year.

Vladimir Putin would be a good nominee. His audacious move towards a second Cold War has changed the physical and geo-political maps of Europe. He has thumbed his nose at the U.S., most of Europe, China and anyone who wears coats in the winter.

The Republican Party makes for good press. They mostly avoided the very worst fringe candidates as nominees on their way to what can only be called a crushing victory over the Democrats in midterm elections.

And then there is Taylor Swift. She might only be a pop singer with forgettable songs and marginable sex appeal–but she is Taylor Swift! And every time Taylor Swift does something banal and insignificant, social networking attains light speed in hysteria.

But my vote is going to the unknown ad exec who decided to put Matthew McConaughey in those Lincoln car commercials. You can almost smell the marijuana through your TV screen as Matthew introspectively opines on life as he drives around an unnamed city looking for the Yellow King.

The Sportsman of the Year is a tougher choice. I could go with a college coach like John Calipari, or the University of North Carolina, who have cemented in every intelligent person’s mind that playing college sports has nothing to do with being an active, participating student.

I could pick Mo’ne Davis. But that would only help remind everyone that pre-teens playing dozens of baseball games on ESPN for no pay and the unpleasant pressure of being watched by a national audience is not only morally wrong but probably a blatant violation of many child labor laws.

I refuse to pick the Seattle Seahawks—the most classless team since the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990’s. Bravado is the weapon of choice of the insecure. Grace and humility are signs of character. Champions do not have to talk garbage after they win. Bullies do that.

But my vote goes to law enforcement officials in the city of Tallahassee, Florida and administrators at Florida State University. Their disgraceful lack of accountability and flagrant disregard for their responsibilities to the public and students they serve allowed the Seminole football team to be an unchecked collective of criminals who swagger around campus with near total impunity. Story after story came out discussing the danger to anyone who crossed paths with a Seminole football player in the past few years. The ultimate question is this:

Would you let your kid (especially a daughter) go to FSU? My answer is an emphatic no! All of this to let thugs who have no business near a college campus continue to play football.

As disgraceful as FSU is, USU can be the antithesis. We graduate our student-athletes. Our academic reputation is strong and is climbing every year. I know I am overtly biased as I am an Aggie alumnus—but that does not change the fact that Utah State University is becoming nationally known as a place you want to be.

And that is why I was dismayed in October when author Anita Sarkeesian did not give a scheduled speech at USU regarding the depiction of women in video games.

Because an anonymous email threatened violence against the event, Utah State made it into the national dialogue for the wrong reasons. It is false to say the event was cancelled because of the threat. Ms. Sarkeesian refused to speak when law enforcement officials stated they could not randomly search attendees because of Utah’s laws regarding the right to carry firearms.

Unfortunately, the story that made it through the media was that Sarkeesian was somehow “silenced.” But she silenced herself. The paradox of a feminist playing a victim when all she had to do was show up and speak is heartbreaking to me.

But that is the world we live in. One person can send an email saying they are going to blow stuff up and we capitulate. We empower morons who would have to face their fecklessness if we ignored their empty threats. Look at the current hubbub over the film “The Interview.” Someone said they would commit violent attacks at movie theatres if anyone went to see that movie and their terroristic demands are commanding adherence.

The only residue left behind for Utah State is another trite conversation by academics about whether they feel safe teaching at a college where their students may be carrying a gun. More liberal claptrap based on unnecessary fear.

Do you know what college touted its smug standing as a “gun free” zone? Virginia Tech. How’d that work out?

Sarkeesian could have stopped her default victim mode long enough to show courage and send the anonymous bully back into his-her cave. She chose to make a story out of herself for limited gain. And in the process, Utah State looked like a redneck paradise of Wild West yahoos—which we certainly are not!

This was the story of the year in Cache Valley. And that makes me sad.

You know what else makes me sad? The answer to my trivia question from above. Ukraine was not a top place searched by Google users. Americans in 2014 wanted McRib sandwiches, coffee that kills off small businesses and Duck Dynasty shirts.

What are the odds 2015 will be any better?

By Staff