Welcome to– and Happy New Year from– the 41st edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where we’re reminiscing about days gone by. To commemorate 2014 I’m looking back at The Year That Was in Colorado sports. These aren’t the best or worst moments of 2013. They’re simply my rankings of the most memorable.I’m sure you might rank them differently; I’d be interested to know how. Let’s get to it…
13. Elvis Dumervil’s Fax Machine Doesn’t Work. (March 15th)
Yes, it was a significant moment in the Broncos’ offseason, but this story makes the cut purely because of its weirdness. Initially, it appeared the Broncos were not going to get a deal done with Dumervil. Surprisingly a deal was finally renegotiated and in place, but the Broncos received the paperwork via fax at 2:06 p.m. — seven minutes after the league deadline. The Broncos were forced to cut Dumervil and he became a free agent. He signed with Ravens and fired his agent. It was an odd story.
12. Avalanche Selects Nathan McKinnon With First Overall Pick (June 30th)
Leading up to the draft the Avs were expected to take local product Seth Jones. They changed course and took McKinnon. It’s worked out so far. The Avs are improved and the 18-year old is a stud. Here’s hoping he leads Colorado back to the top of the hockey mountain.
11. Colorado Beats Colorado State in Rocky Mountain Showdown In MacIntyre’s First Game. (September 1st)
The Buffs pulled MacIntyre away from San Jose State late in December of 2012 to replace the incompetent Jon Embree. (An NFL tight ends coach was never going to work.) CU settled on MacIntyre after being jerked around by Butch Jones, who left Cincinnati and agreed to coach in Boulder until Tennessee offered him a job, which I found hilarious. MacIntyre made a splash in his first game, upsetting the Rams 41-27. Buffs’ standout receiver Paul Richardson (above) took advantage of two completely blown coverages to score a couple huge touchdowns. He finished with 10 catches for 208 yards and the two aforementioned TDs. The Buffs would beat only one more FBS opponent all year.
10. Colorado Upsets Kansas on Booker Buzzer-Beater (December 7th)
The upset was the Buff’s first win over the #6 Jayhawks in twenty tries and more than ten years. It was a wild game that propelled CU into the national rankings (currently ranked 20/24) and created quite a buzz in Boulder. This would have been a few notches higher if it had taken place in February or March instead of early December. Colorado will be tough to beat at home all year long.
9. Nuggets Upset by Warriors (May 2nd)
This would be a few spots higher if it didn’t happen every year. The 2013 version of playoff disappointment tasted a little worse than in most years because this time Denver was the heavily favored 3-seed and had home court advantage. Game 6 was a crazy one, with Steph Curry going crazy in the third quarter (above) and the Warriors leading by 18 with just over eight minutes to go. The Nuggets made a wild comeback to cut the lead to two with 32 seconds left, but this was the playoffs, so the Nuggets lost.
8. Metro State Loses Division II National Championship in Final Seconds (April 7th)
In a game televised nationally on CBS, the Roadrunners led Drury (Mo.) by as many as 19 in the first half and were up a dozen at halftime. They looked poised to win their third national championship. After a Drury comeback, Metro State had the ball and a one point lead with 26 seconds left, but missed the front end of a one-and-one, got the rebound, was fouled, and missed the front end again. Drury made two free throws. Metro State didn’t get a shot off in a frantic sequence as time expired. Wild finish. Crushing loss for the Roadrunners.
7. Colorado State Beats Missouri in NCAA tournament (March 21st)
Colorado State’s unique group of five senior starters had a special season to remember. The Rams had gone 4-12 in conference play the year before the core of this group arrived. They improved each of their four years. The program went to back-to-back NCAA tournaments for the first time in 13 years. This year’s team won the most games in program history and is generally considered the best Colorado State team ever. The 84-72 NCAA tournament win over Missouri was the first for the program in 24 years. CSU got screwed with their tournament seeding and matchups and location, but showed they were underseeded by easily handling the Tigers. They would lose to the overall number one seed and eventual national champion Louisville a couple days later.
6. Nuggets Fire George Karl (June 6th)
After eight and a half years and nine consecutive playoff appearances, the Nuggets fired the guy who just won the NBA’s Coach of the Year award. In all, Karl coached 680 games in Denver going 423-257. He joined the Nuggets halfway through the 2004-05 season and went 32-8 to lead the Nuggets back to the playoffs. Obviously, his troubles came when they got there. Of those 9 appearances, the Nuggets made it out of the first round just one time. On the surface it may seem absurd to fire the Coach of the Year, but when every season ends in the exact same boring disappointment, some of us failed to see the point of doing it all over and over again.
5. Patrick Roy Hired as Avalanche Head Coach, Goes Crazy in First Game. (May 23rd, October 2nd)
The Avalanche made what appears to be the perfect hire at head coach when they signed legendary goalie Patrick Roy. He brings an edge and attitude that the team badly needed. After having the worst record in the NHL last year, the Avs started out 12-1 and are currently in 7th place in the Western Conference. But Roy freaking out on opening night and trying to remodel the two benches will probably be the moment of the year regardless of what happens.
4. Peyton Manning’s Incredible Record Breaking Season, Named Sports Illustrated Sportsman Of The Year (September 5th – Present)
Some might have this ranked a little higher, but the Broncos didn’t bring Peyton Manning to Denver to win MVPs. They brought him in to win the Super Bowl. He started with seven touchdowns in the opener and finished with 55 touchdowns in the regular season. He’s 37 years old. He’s only two years removed from getting cut and having four neck surgeries and not being able to throw a football ten yards. And he just finished the greatest regular season ever played at quarterback. It is one incredible story.
3. Colorado State Wins New Mexico Bowl in Astonishing Fashion (December 21st)
I recapped this game last week. It was wild. Touchdown/Fumble/Fumble/Touchdown/2 Point Conversion/Review/Fumble/Field Goal/Game over all in about three minutes. The Rams’ first bowl game win since 2008 could not have come in a more exciting game, 48-45 over Washington State.
2. Todd Helton Plays Final Games and Retires (September 25th – 29th)
If you’re a regular around these parts, you don’t need me to explain this one. (If you haven’t read my post on Helton’s career, check it out now.) The last home game included the home run in the video above and it just felt like magic. There were lots of special moments that night. The video tributes. The horse. The standing ovations. The career of one of the two or three best Colorado athletes ever coming to an end after 17 seasons.
1. Broncos Shocked by Ravens in Divisional Round of NFL Playoffs (January 12th)
In one of the most painful moments in Denver sports history, the Super Bowl favorite and first seeded Broncos couldn’t put away the Ravens on a bitter January afternoon. The Broncos had a seven point lead when Baltimore took over on the 30-yard-line with 4o seconds to go. On third down, Flacco threw up a prayer and Rahim Moore answered. Then Manning took a knee. Then 15 scoreless minutes of overtime. Then a Justin Tucker field goal. Then the season was over.
The result led to speculation about Peyton Manning in the playoffs. And Peyton Manning in cold weather. And John Fox’s coaching style. And on and on.
It also rendered the 2013 regular season almost completely meaningless. For the Broncos, the real season starts in 2014. They open the playoffs on January 12th, the one-year anniversary of last year devastating defeat. They’re 13-3. They’re the 1-seed. Sound familiar?
So there ya go. A lot happened in 2013, most of it bad. What did I miss? What’s too high? What’s too low?
(Another holiday post this week, so none of the weekly installments or videos. They’ll be back next week.)
Happy Tuesday everybody. And Happy New Year. Thanks for reading. Let’s all have a great 2014.
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