A look back at the top 10 Indiana sports stories of 2014

by Kent Sterling

2014Indiana’s good, bad, and ugly – theTop Ten Sports Stories of 2014

Paul George breaks leg

Injuries can happen anywhere at anytime to anyone, but the fractured leg suffered by Indiana Pacers forward Paul George as he is knocking at the door of stardom was a cruel reminder of the role fate plays in life and sports.  Recovery is on pace for a return for the 2015-2016 season, and all Pacers fans hope this injury results in a speed bump rather than an off-ramp as George continues to mine his potential as an elite NBA player.

Regression of Indiana University Basketball

Not only did the Indiana Hoosiers backpedal several big steps from the previous year’s regular season Big Ten Championship, the behavior of the players also served to embarrass the once proud program.  Arrests, suspensions, and the head injury to sophomore Devin Davis all gave fans reason to question the fitness of Tom Crean’s leadership.  The Big Ten season that begins tonight is going to go a long way toward defining his reign in Bloomington.  It may determine when it will end.

Colts playoff comeback against the Kansas City Chiefs

Down 38-10 early in the second half, and staring straight down the barrel of a second one-and-done in the playoffs, quarterback Andrew Luck and an attack dog defensive mindset led the Colts on the second biggest comeback in NFL postseason history.  Amazingly, the Colts completed the comeback with 4:21 remaining, nearly giving the Chiefs time enough to complete a comeback of their own.

Lance Stephenson bolts Pacers for Charlotte

Not only did the Pacers lose Paul George for the season with a broken leg, mercurial (to be kind) Lance Stephenson decided to accept a two-year, $18 million contract to take his talent to the Charlotte Hornets rather than accept a reported five-year, $44 million to remain with the Pacers – the team that drafted him and understood his quirks.  Neither team has prospered as a result of the decision.  The Pacers and Hornets are in the bottom tier of NBA teams through the early portion of the season, and Lance is rumored to be on the trade block.

Tevin Coleman rushes for 2,000 yards

Indiana running back Tevin Coleman crushed the single season rushing record and became the 24th player in college football history to amass more than 2,000 yards in a single season with a total of 2,036.  The Hoosiers lack of success (4-8 and no bowl invitation for the 20th time in 21 years) and the incredible excellence of Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (2,336 rushing yards) kept Coleman from enjoying an invitation to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist.  Coleman announced this week that he will leave Indiana and enter the 2015 NFL Draft.

Matt Painter rebuilds Purdue basketball

After losing their final seven games of the 2013-2014 season, fans of the Purdue Boilermakers began whispering about Matt Painter’s future as the architect of their program.  Painter responded to adversity by retooling the roster with hard-working, fun-to-coach kids who would fight for Purdue with the same tenacity Painter showed as a player two-plus decades ago for legend Gene Keady.  The Boilers are 8-5 thus far in 2014-2015, with wins over Missouri, BYU, and North Carolina State, and three straight losses to Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, and Gardner-Webb.  No one said the rebuild would be without hiccups.

Jim Irsay’s arrest

On March 16th, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay was arrested in Carmel for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.  He had been driving 10 miles an hour in a zone where the speed limit was 35 mph.  He was in possession of a substantial cache of prescription drugs and $29,029, according to Carmel police.  As a result, Irsay was placed on probation through a plea deal with the Hamilton County courts, and received a six-week suspension and $500,000 fine by the NFL.  irsay has not been as visible as the leader of the Colts since his return from rehab.

Reggie Wayne breaks Peyton Manning franchise records

Someday, which Colt appeared in the most games and most wins will make for a great trivia question.  Peyton Manning and Johnny Unitas will be obvious answers, and both will be wrong as the records now belong to the singularly excellent Reggie Wayne.  Eclipsing the previous records of 208 games and 142 wins is just the latest entry on his Pro Football Hall of Fame resume’.

Brandon Miller takes leave of absence

The people who know why Brandon Miller took a leave of absence as Butler University’s men’s basketball coach aren’t talking, so fans and alums have been left guessing.  Is it a health crisis, a decision to put family first, or the result of alien abduction aftereffects?  Who knows.  Chris Holzmann has done a nice job filling in, and Butler is playing like Butler, so we hope Miller and his family are happy and well.

Robert Mathis suspension and injury

The saying, “Add insult to injury” is rarely as appropriately used as in the case of Colts defensive end Robert Mathis.  After being suspended for four games because of performance enhancing drug use (Mathis tested positive for Clomid, which he claimed to be using as a fertility aid), Mathis tore his achilles while working out, and was lost for the season.  The Colts have missed the game-changing mayhem Mathis brought to bear as the team’s all-time sacks leader, but have still managed a ninth AFC South title in 13 years.

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