By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Dec 28, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Just three more days...

That's all that remains of the decade (depending on your math) and, as Drew Olson pointed out in his Saturday Scorecard, it's been a memorable one.

It started with an awful lot of promise for the Milwaukee Bucks who were emerging as a Central Division power behind the Big Three and head coach George Karl and Wisconsin, which opened the decade with its second consecutive Rose Bowl victory while the basketball team made one of the most improbable Final Four runs of all time.

Since then, though, the Bucks have fallen to the point of near-irrelevance and Wisconsin football, though far from the depths of the 1960s through 1993, hasn't been to Pasadena since.

The Brewers, meanwhile, were a laughing stock when the decade opened. Ten years later, Miller Park has replaced County Stadium and fans enjoyed the postseason for the first time in 26 years.

Here's a look at the state's biggest sports stories of the last 10 years. Identifying the big ones and selecting No. 1 was the easy part, but for the rest, we leave it to you to decide. As always, you can use the talkback feature below to make your additions, subtractions or rankings.

1) The Brett Favre Circus

Quick, turn back the clock. If somebody would have written 10 years ago that Brett Favre would have jogged onto Lambeau Field wearing Minnesota Vikings' purple and showered with boos, that person would have been committed.

Favre, just a few years removed from his back-to-back MVP seasons and a Super Bowl victory, was still the leader of the Pack at that point, but after a few seasons of decline, he began to grate nerves with his will I or won't I retire shtick. Favre led the Packers to the NFC Championship Game in '07 but cost the Packers a trip to the Super Bowl with an interception in overtime against the Giants.

We all know what happened next: the tearful retirement press conference, the summer of speculation, the threats and leveraging and Favre's eventual trade to the New York Jets, which begat a second retirement and eventual union with the Vikings.

2) Brewers climb out from the wilderness

When 1999 came to an end, there was hope that the Brewers would soon turn the corner. A tragic accident cost three ironworkers their lives and kept the Brewers at County Stadium for the 2000 season. Once Miller Park opened, little improved and eventually, the front office underwent a massive overhaul and the team itself, was sold by the Selig family to Mark Attanasio.

Under new direction and with a focus on building through the draft, the team finally returned to contention thanks to homegrown stars like Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun and, after a scary late-season freefall, finally clinched its first playoff berth since 1982 on the final day of the 2008 season.

3) Bucks fall in Eastern Conference Finals; fall from relevance

Under head coach George Karl and behind the three-headed monster of Glenn Robinson, Ray Allen and Sam Cassell, the Bucks turned a corner in 2001, advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1986.

Unfortunately, a championship wasn't in the cards as the Bucks fell to Philadelphia in seven games. What's more memorable than Robinson's missed jumper in Game 5 was the insane disparity in fouls between the Bucks and 76ers.

The Bucks were quite vocal about it and one writer suggested that Scott Williams, charged with a flagrant foul in Game 6, was suspended for the deciding game due in part to the Bucks' chirping about officiating.

Things haven't been quite as good since. Milwaukee has made the playoffs just twice and questions have started to swirl about the team's future in the city.

4) State college hoops teams earn national respect

It wasn't that long ago that Wisconsin was a basketball wasteland. Marquette's era of dominance under Al McGuire was nothing but a memory and Wisconsin, though resurgent in the 1990s under Stu Jackson and Dick Bennett, hadn't been a true contender since the pre-war years.

That changed, though, in the last decade.

Wisconsin opened the year with one of the most unexpected final four runs in college basketball history, using old-school principles of defense to advance to the national semifinals, where the Badgers lost to Michigan State for the fourth time that season.

Bennett would retire early into the next season and, after opting not to retain interim coach Brad Soderberg; athletic director Pat Richter made a program-altering decision by bringing Bo Ryan to Madison.

Under Ryan, who won four NCAA Division III championships at UW-Platteville and started UW-Milwaukee's rise from the depths, the Badgers have become a power in the Big Ten, winning three conference and two league tournament titles while turning the Kohl Center into one of the toughest venues in the country.

Wisconsin also was ranked No. 1 for the first time in program history.

Marquette, meanwhile, also took a giant leap forward during the decade. Tom Crean came to Milwaukee in 1999 and, by 2003, had the Golden Eagles on the national stage when Dwyane Wade recorded a triple-double in a regional final to put Marquette in the Final Four for the first time since '77.

That exposure helped Marquette make the leap from Conference USA into the mighty Big East where the Golden Eagles, this time behind Wes Mathews, Jerel McNeal and Dominic James, were major players in the nation's toughest conference.

The Badgers and Golden Eagles weren't alone in their success. Under Bruce Pearl, UWM advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2005 and in Division III, UW-Stevens Point won the women's championship in 2002 while the men claimed titles in 2004 and '05.

5) Barry says goodbye; Badgers stumble under Bielema

Barry Alvarez opened the decade with a second consecutive Rose Bowl victory, a 17-9 decision over Stanford that is the Big Ten's last victory in the granddaddy of them all, and five years later, he stepped aside to become Wisconsin's athletic director.

Wisconsin has qualified for a bowl game every year except for 2001 but Alvarez's hand-picked successor, Bret Bielema, hasn't inspired the Badgers' faithful after following a 12-1 debut season with a 25-13 mark over his next three seasons.

Wisconsin also undertook a massive renovation of Camp Randall Stadium during the decade, adding more capacity and luxury suites to the facility.

6) Close calls keep Packers from Super Bowl

It was almost too perfect. The Packers, 13-3, had everything go right for them during the 2007 playoffs and, thanks to good fortune, hosted New York at snowy Lambeau Field in the NFC Championship Game.

Five years earlier, the Packers looked like they were bound to face Carolina in the NFC title game when the Eagles faced a 4th and 26 late in a Divisional Playoff at Lincoln Financial Field. In a moment now etched in Packer Nation's nightmares, Donovan McNabb launched a prayer that found Freddie Mitchell. McNabb ran for another first down and David Akers tied the game as time expired. In overtime, Favre threw an interception that set up the Eagles' game-winning field goal.

7) End of an era for The Mile

In 2002, the state of Wisconsin spent $73 million to build new grandstands at the Milwaukee Mile. The decision, which replaced stands built in the 1930s, started a long, slow decline that would ultimately bring major circuit racing at the nation's oldest, continuously-operating raceway to an end.

Bitter disputes between the State Fair Park Board and Milwaukee Mile promoters led to an end of major racing at the Milwaukee Mile following the 2009 season. After the state took control of the track in 2003, replacing Carl Hass, and handled operations through 2005 when Milwaukee Mile Holdings took over.

That group couldn't turn a profit at the Mile, and after a number of contract alterations, opted out of the deal earlier this year. A new group, Wisconsin Motorsports, couldn't make a go of it either, leaving NASCAR and the IRL looking for its owed fees.

When a deal couldn't be reached on a promoter for 2010, the Board announced that national racing would not return next season. NASCAR, shortly thereafter, moved its Nationwide Series race to Road America. The Indy Racing League had already dropped Milwaukee from its schedule.

8) Good news, bad news for golf fans

The sport exploded in the state during the decade; with championship-caliber courses opening and the state hosting its first major in decades when the PGA Championship came to Whistling Straits in 2004.

The tournament will return to Wisconsin this summer, kicking off a 10-year run that will include more major golf events here. The 2012 Women's US Open will be played at Blackwolf Run while the PGA Championship is slated to return again in 2015. The Ryder Cup is scheduled for Whistling Straits in 2020 while Erin Hills, a new course near Hartford, is expected to land a US Open in the near future.

Unfortunately, while the state is looking forward to a slew of Majors, it mourns the loss of its annual PGA Tour stop. The U.S. Bank Championship ended a 41-year legacy when the tournament couldn't find a title sponsor to replace U.S. Bank.

Plagued in recent years by dwindling attendance -- a direct result of a lackluster field due to the event's scheduling opposite the British Open -- the tournament's days were numbered.

State golfers Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly had worked behind the scenes to come up with a plan to save the tournament, but to no avail.

9) Admirals win first championship

After Jane Pettit's death in 2001, the Admirals' future in Milwaukee was cloudy, at best. Operating on a shoestring budget, the Admirals won the 2004 American Hockey League championship with a four-game sweep of Scranton-Wilkes Barre in the Calder Cup Finals and, a year later, were purchased by Harris Turer.

The team went back to the Calder Cup Finals in 2006, falling to Hersey in six games and, thanks to a steady stream of prospects from parent-club Nashville, has been a regular contender in the AHL's West Division.

10) Whitewater becomes football powerhouse

The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Association has long been considered one of the best and most competitive conferences in all of NCAA Division III.

In the latter half of the decade, though, UW-Whitewater established itself as one of the best football programs in the land.

The Warhawks capped off the decade with five consecutive appearances in the D-III Championship Stagg Bowl -- all against national power Mount Union -- winning twice, including a 38-28 victory two weeks ago.