OSU football game

Ohio State’s Evan Spencer recovers an onside kick in the Buckeyes’ 42-35 upset of Alabama in a national semifinal. The Buckeyes’ claiming of the national championship was one of the biggest stories of the year. (Photo courtesy of Ohio State)

For sports fans in the state of Ohio, the year 2015 reads like something out of Charles Dickens novel. It was the first of times; it was the worst of times. And it was everywhere in between.
  The Buckeyes won it all in football … and wrestling … and synchronized swimming … and pistol … and rowing. The Cleveland Cavaliers, the Columbus Clippers and the Columbus Crew SC placed second in their respective fields. The Cleveland Browns and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned participant ribbons for their respective seasons.
  Mush it all together and you have a very odd year.

  JANUARY: HANGING ON BY A (THIRD) STRING. The Ohio State football team reached its pinnacle in the first month of the year. Playing with third-string quarterback Cardale Jones after losing Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett to season-ending injuries, the fourth-seeded Buckeyes stunned Alabama 42-35 in a national semifinal and Oregon 42-20 in the championship game. Not bad for a team that ESPN commentator Mark May said didn’t belong in the inaugural playoffs.
  FEBRUARY: COULDN’T CALL IT UNEXPECTED. The Upper Arlington High School girls swimming and diving team continued to make Canton its winter home. The Golden Bears swept all three relays and won the 200-yard freestyle to capture its 10th Division I state title.
  MARCH: DA ARNOLD. The Arnold Classic, the largest multi-sport festival in the nation and home of the world-renowned Arnold Classic professional men’s bodybuilding championships, returned to the Columbus Convention Center. Area businesses began reporting shortages of tanning beds, baby oil and humility.
  APRIL: IT’S JUST A PRACTICE, RIGHT? In the wake of the national championship, Ohio State set a NCAA record as 99,391 fans packed Ohio Stadium for the annual Scarlet and Gray scrimmage on April 19. The event drew more fans than the Rolling Stones and One Direction concerts at the Shoe but also more than the Super Bowl and the 2015 national championship game. After the event drew only 14,652 fans for the 2015 Beef ‘O’ Brady Bowl, officials may want to schedule an Ohio State practice there instead of a bowl game there next year.
  MAY: WISE CHOICES? By the time the NFL draft was over on May 2, the Browns used their draft picks for a bag of magic beans, a used copy of Kevin Costner’s DRAFT DAY and a case of Schlitz malt liquor.
  JUNE: NBA FINALS TURNS OUT TO BE JUST ANOTHER NIKE COMMERCIAL. Nine months after Nike released its chilling commercial featuring LeBron James as the savior of Cleveland, the shoe company plans on making a new commercial after the Cavaliers lost to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals June 4-16. Its new commercial, “Can’t We Have Just One?” features Cleveland antagonists Steph Curry, John Elway, Willie Mays and Art Modell dashing the city’s dreams.
  JULY: BOOING DALTON. Andy Dalton, the playoff-challenged quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals, was booed in the Legends and Celebrity Softball Game on July 12 before the MLB All-Star game in Cincinnati. Those same “fans” were later seen pleading for his return in mid-December.
  AUGUST:  THANK YOU, SI. Ohio State was one of four teams gracing a regional cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED’S college football preview edition, thereby guaranteeing the Buckeyes would not be in the hunt for a national title. TCU, Mississippi State and Notre Dame, who made the other three regional covers, also failed to make the playoffs.
  SEPTEMBER: NEED MORE COW BELL. Columbus Clippers general manager Ken Schnacke found an elegant solution to an unusual problem. After only 2,468 fans showed up for a playoff game, the manager offered free tickets for the remainder of the playoff run. The Clippers won their 10th Governor’s Cup and placed second in the Triple A national championship after losing to the Fresno Grizzles 7-0 on Sept. 22.
  OCTOBER: A SHORT TWO YEARS. Consider the time line for former Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards. On April 23, 2014, he coached the team to their first Stanley Cup playoff home victory. On May 27, 2014, he was given a two-year contract extension. On Oct. 21, he became the eighth coach to be let go by the struggling franchise.
  NOVEMBER: LISTEN TO Z. A week after complaining bitterly about only getting 12 carries in a 17-14 loss to Michigan State, Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 214 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries in a 42-13 win over Michigan on Nov. 28. Elliott was named honorary offensive coordinator for the Fiesta Bowl.
  DECEMBER: DON’T BE LATE. The Columbus Crew SC fans know now to never be late to a match. After scoring the fastest goal in MLS Cup Playoff history (Justin Meram scored nine seconds into the 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls) on Nov. 29, the Crew SC squandered two goals in the first six minutes of a 2-1 loss to Portland in the MLS Cup. That spurt forced hooligans to throw their half-full beer bottles on to the field instead of empty ones.
  Here’s hoping the next 12 months are as exciting as last year.

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