A year ago, we covered two Texas games – a Longhorns baseball game and a women’s basketball game against Oklahoma State, winning 63-52 on senior night. It was also Karen Aston’s last game as UT coach.
It happened on March 8th. Soon after, everything closed, from youth to high school sports to all collegiate sports, including the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, as well as the professionals.
Major League Baseball and the NBA are finding ways to save their seasons. College football looked as though it wouldn’t work, but it did. The NFL has to be inventive but get into its season.
One year later, we are all ready to go back to sports. Looking back on Year One sport in the midst of the pandemic:
1. Which sports figure, college team and / or pro team was injured the most?
Bohls: I would say Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott because he ended up losing his job, on June 30th, because of the way he and his office handled the pandemic. The league is considered fickle and devotional with a late start in football in November. But Scott, the top-paid Power Five commissioner, failed to find a network partner for the struggling Pac-12 Network, unable to persuade Texas and Oklahoma to join his league in the expansion campaign and fall victim to a conference that didn’t take place. I didn’t have a College Football Playoff team for the last four years. The New England Patriots were hurt just like any NFL team because Cam Newton wasn’t Tom Brady and couldn’t develop chemistry with the highly suspect receiving corps, but the Olympics in Tokyo took the brunt of that with a delay until this summer and could still be in doubt. Baylor is also suffering from winning the national championships in men’s and women’s basketball in 2020. Of course, the Bears might make up for that by drawing a double in 2021; they are virtual keys as No. seeds. 2 in both brackets.
Golden: I will go with a group of sports figures, colleges and pros. The US Olympic team missed the 2020 Tokyo Olympics – for at least a year – and if there was a time our country needed the sport’s unifying force, it was last summer. These athletes, who worked their whole lives to build up a moment, were shocked by the news that they had to wait another year.
2. Which team benefited the most?
Bohls: It would be the Houston Astros, if only because they avoided harsh reactions from opponents and fans after TrashCanGate. They don’t have to endure the taunts and catcalls – and chin music – after striving for a suspected World Series title, but they are still in the closing stages of their long success after losing free agents like Gerrit Cole and George Jumper.
Golden: The Los Angeles Lakers won the championship again, and the league’s decision to play the season in a bubble benefited the game’s best incumbents. LeBron James played an inspired ball at the age of 35 without having to worry about the rigors of road trips and hotel room music.
3. Name a professional league that handles viruses well.
Bohls: I’m going to take the monolith that is the NFL for not losing a game during the pandemic, landing the sexy Tampa Bay-Kansas City Super Bowl (despite poor ratings), finding exciting new contenders in Buffalo and Cleveland, looking to have fans in their stadiums this fall. and ready to sign a mega-TV deal right away. The NFL always wins.
Golden: The NBA’s decision to go through the regular season and playoff in a bubble was played to perfection. We were treated to an incredible ball while the league doctors prevented the COVID-19 outbreak.
4. And which league really failed?
Bohls: This is a match between the Top Ten and Pac-12. The two puffed their chests and branded themselves the moral compass of college football, only to give up and give up and be OK on a cropped season. The season shortened very closely to wiping out Ohio State’s CFP chances before the league stepped in and rewrote its own rules for getting the Buckeyes invitation to the Top Ten championship.
Golden: Major League Baseball has had a hard time, mainly due to its failure to get test results in a timely manner for several team outbreaks. Dodgers outfielder Justin Turner gave the cherry on top when he celebrated the World Series title with his team-mates on the pitch after being withdrawn from play on positive tests. Turner, of course, didn’t wear a mask during the celebration.
5. Which athletic event that was canceled or postponed did you miss the most?
Bohls: There were no azaleas in Augusta, not in November when the transplant Master moved there to ensure the tradition was sustainable like no other. This is my favorite show since I first saw Ben Crenshaw win his second green jacket there. Covering it remotely from my studies is not the same.
Golden: I always look forward to posting my bloody NCAA bracket every March in the newspapers followed by the most pleasant month in spring. Not performing the Great Dance hurts my soul. Looking forward to returning to March Madness.
6. What traditions or habits are personally lost during a pandemic?
Bohls: It will be our weekly lunch at the fabulous Lotus restaurant in Westlake, where Cedric Golden and I get together and break bread – at least fortune cookies – with former colleagues and friends of Statesman and Tom Dore.
Golden: To celebrate our 20th anniversary, Bev and I are planning a trip to Las Vegas in June. First class seats, tickets to three shows, spa day – work – and we had to cancel everything. Painful.
7. If Big 12 doesn’t play in the fall, will it kill the whole season?
Bohls: Yes, it will. One commissioner even told me that much and said it would be difficult publicly to progress with this season if only the SEC and ACC played. Bob Bowlsby’s leadership paid dividends and saved college football for all of us.
Golden: I do not think so. The bad SEC and the adjacent ACC will continue to progress by one season. The Big 12 earned credibility for being the first to announce the game, but football mills such as Alabama, LSU and Clemson would lead them to play.
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8. Which pro team came out as the biggest surprise of 2020?
Bohls: I’m going to leave with the passionate and accomplished Miami Heat, which surprised everyone by reaching the NBA Finals as the No. 5 in the Eastern Conference and propelled the Lakers to six games before exhausted Jimmy Butler and the Miami miracle failed.
Golden: With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George taking the lead, the Los Angeles Clippers were supposed to challenge the Lakers’ lead in the Western Conference but couldn’t even make it out of the second round, blowing a 3-1 draw lead to the Denver Nuggets.
9. Which college team emerged from the outside?
Bohls: Didn’t Coastal Carolina arrive bustling out of nowhere? Yes, FBS rookies came like a storm, unbeaten before falling to Liberty in the Cure Bowl. Not much is known about the school in Conway, SC, but Jamey Chadwell runs her offense options from shotgun to flawless, and Chanticleers ranks 14th in the last Associated Press poll.
Golden: Liberty Football. Hugh Freeze may have a checkered history when it comes to hiring fouls, but he brought a real winner to Lynchburg. The 37-34 win over Coastal Carolina at the Cure Bowl was the perfect finish for the 10-1 season.
10. Which college administrator or pro commissioner shows the most moxie?
Bohls: I think Bowslby is cementing his image as a progressive, sane-minded leader who has a Top 12 position to make a stronger streak among the Five Powers Leagues.
Golden: Adam Silver is the best commissioner in all sports. He delivered great plans to play the NBA season in a bubble and had important support from his players. I gave him the lead over Bowlsby, who bravely declared there would be a football season after the Pac-12 and Big Ten were canceled and before any word from the SEC and ACC.
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