By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com
DENVER (CBS4) – There were a lot of ups and downs in the sports world in Colorado in 2015. The following are just some of the big headlines in Colorado sports last year.
Broncos Bow Out Of Playoffs In Divisional Round, Head Coach John Fox Leaves, Gary Kubiak Hired
In the Broncos’ third season with quarterback Peyton Manning and fourth under head coach John Fox, the team entered the 2014 season as the AFC West champions. Once again the team won the division with a 12-4 record for their fourth consecutive AFC West. But they lost for the third time in four seasons in the Divisional round of the playoffs to the Indianapolis Colts 23-14 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. That led to Fox and and the Broncos agreeing to part ways. Fox went on to be the head coach for the Chicago Bears. The search for a new head coach was on.
Approximately a week after Fox leaving the Broncos hired former Broncos quarterback Gary Kubiak, who previously was head coach of the Houston Texans and was with the Baltimore Ravens as offensive coordinator when hired. Earlier in his career Kubiak worked as the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator under Mike Shanahan in Denver.
Lindsey Vonn World Cup Wins Record
Vail’s Lindsey Vonn, considered the most successful female skier of all time, tied and then overtook Austrian Annemarie Moser-Proell for the most World Cup wins ever after a win in In January of 2015. She also made a lot of headlines for dating Tiger Woods. The two have since broken up.
Nuggets Fire Brian Shaw, Hire Michael Malone
In March of 2015 the Denver Nuggets fired head coach Brian Shaw and inserted assistant Melvin Hunt as an interim coach after the Nuggets poor showing on the court and 20-39 record.
In the offseason the Nuggets brought in Michael Malone, who had been fired by the Sacramento Kings after less than two seasons with the team. Under Malone the Nuggets drafted point guard Emmanuel Mudiay with the seventh overall pick in a season of rebuilding. As of New Year’s Eve the Nuggets ranked 12th in the Western Conference with a 12-21 record.
DU Men’s Lacrosse National Champions
In May of 2015 the University of Denver brought home its first ever men’s lacrosse championship with a 10-5 victory over Maryland. It was the first time ever an NCAA men’s lacrosse championship went to a school west of the Mississippi River. The success of the program is credited to the hiring of head coach Bill Tierney, who will enter his seventh season with the Pioneers. After winning six NCAA titles at Princeton, he’s 83-25 in Denver. Overall, he’s 355-118 in 31 seasons as a head coach. His contract runs through 2022.
Nuggets Trade Troubled Ty Lawson
In July of 2015 the Nuggets traded point guard Ty Lawson to the Houston Rockets after Lawson’s off-court issues became too much for the team. Denver received virtually nothing in the trade except a protected 2016 first-round draft pick. Lawson had been accused of driving under the influence several times and the Nuggets felt it was time to part ways.
Rockies Finally Trade Troy Tulowitzki
Colorado Rockies star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays in July of 2015. Tulo had spent his whole career with the Rockies and the trade irked some fans, but for others it was a long time coming. The Rockies acquired star shortstop Jose Reyes in the deal. Reyes expressed displeasure with the move saying he didn’t want to play for a bad team in his waning years. Reyes was arrested for alleged domestic abuse in the offseason in Hawaii.
Colorado Native Christian McCaffrey’s Heisman Trophy Run
The son of former Denver Broncos wide receiver Ed McCaffrey has had a magical season as running back for the Stanford Cardinal. Christian McCaffrey was a finalist for the hardware but lost out to Alabama running back Derrick Henry, who broke Herschel Walker’s SEC rushing record and led the Crimson Tide back to the College Football Playoff. McCaffrey finished the season with 1,847 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. He also had 41 receptions for 540 yards and four touchdowns. McCaffrey easily broke the single-season all-purpose yards record previously held by Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders.
Quarterback Controversy … Brock Or Peyton?
After Peyton Manning was pulled in the third quarter during the Broncos 29-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in mid-November, the team became Brock Osweiler‘s to lead. It was revealed that Manning had a partially torn plantar fascia in his left foot and wouldn’t start another game. Osweiler took advantage of his first opportunity to start by going 4-2 in his six starts including two comeback wins against playoff-bound teams. He beat the New England Patriots 30-24 in overtime and then the Cincinnati Bengals 20-17, also in overtime.
Manning started practicing again in mid-December and for the first time in his NFL career he was named backup to Osweiler when the Broncos host the San Diego Chargers this Sunday. But if anyone thought it was controversial that Manning isn’t taking back over the starting role, Manning isn’t concerned. He said he was just happy to get back on the field.
“I’m happy to be more of a part of it now than just being in street clothes and kind of quarantined in the indoor facility and work on out on my own,” said Manning.
It remains to be seen what will happen for the playoffs. Osweiler’s performance against the Chargers may have a lot to do with that.