Was 2018 a good year or a bad year?
There were certainly some great moments, but overall, I’d give it a score of “meh.”
From a Nebraska sports perspective, the baseball team had a very disappointing season, the men’s basketball team got screwed, and the football team was the worst in school history. You can debate that last point, but no other team EVER started 0-5 and then our beloved Huskers went to 0-6 before winning a game.
I asked our writers to specifically stay away from religion and politics in their non-sports entries. I also made the requirement that they couldn’t pick the same event or item that another writer chose.
How was your 2018 and how would you answer these questions?
What would you consider the worst Husker-related moment of 2018?
Nate M: The Akron rain out. It may be a cop-out but I think that was the driving force behind our 0-6 start. When they announced that the game was cancelled I immediately said that this was real bad news for Nebraska. All of that build up to the first game of the Scott Frost era resulted in nothing. Not even a loss. Just nothing. Then we follow up against Colorado and we looked rusty like we were trying to catch up with them. And we all know the rest of the story.
Mike: I’ll go a week later. When Colorado linebacker Jacob Callier twisted Adrian Martinez’s knee, it took a lot of momentum out of Nebraska’s sails. I think the Huskers hold that lead against the Buffies, and then beats Troy the next week. Yes, they still get curb-stomped at Michigan, but at 2-1, they are more proficient against Purdue and Northwestern. And at 7-5, the Big Red is bowling this season.
Uglydog56: The worst moment was getting shafted by the NCAA playoff committee in Men's basketball. We knew the football season was going to be bad, and were not disappointed. But the committee should have let the basketball team lose in the first round again.
UNLWiebe: Everybody is choosing football and basketball as the worst moments, but I’m going to give some love to the baseball team. Last season was super disappointing after winning the Big Ten the year prior. I would argue that Nebraska being bad at baseball this last season was more surprising than the 2017 Nebraska football season and the basketball team playing really well.
Jill: I agree with Evan. The baseball season was a huge disappointment. But, since I can’t pick the same “worst” as anyone else, I’ll go with the closing minutes against Northwestern in football. The Huskers held a 10 point lead and ended up losing that game in overtime. As soon as it got to overtime, I just knew it was going to be a loss. It just punctuated a season in which I realized how far Nebraska really has to go to be a high level football team again.
Patrick: I’m going to go one more on Rick above. The missing out on playing in the NCAA Tournament was bad enough. Then the Huskers lose on the road to Mississippi State in the NIT. A team they beat in an exhibition earlier in the season. It was a bad situation but it almost proved the tournament selection committee right; that maybe Nebraska didn’t belong in the dance.
Andy: It was the Akron game for me as well (so kinda breaking the rules, sorry!), but only for what it meant that night. Coming off the last three years, it just felt like one more kick in the teeth. I wasn’t expecting to see a complete sea change in game one, and nobody was geeked out of their shorts for a tilt with the Zips, but now we don’t even get to play? Really??
As the evening progressed and it became apparent this game would not be played, that feeling of energy seeping out of the state like a slow leak in a car tire was nothing short of depressing for fans who were finally looking forward to a game with genuine hope for the first time in years.
Jon: The Northwestern loss in football. It dropped us to 0-6 and the worst part about it - we had the game in the bag. Nebraska, the team, the fans, needed a win so badly it hurt. We lead by 10 with 5:41 left in the game. It felt wonderful, and then all of that goodness went away.
A close second was the national title loss against Stanford in volleyball. It was the exact moment that the out of bounds call in the fifth set was reversed, giving The Cardinal a 14-10 lead. I was about 10 feet from the edge of the court and you could both see and feel our beloved Huskers deflate. Both teams knew it was over. Watching our team in the Minnesota regional and Final Four was an incredible experience, but that moment was heartbreaking.
What about the worst non-Nebraska related sports moment?
Nate M: For me this was personal. The J.R. Smith blunder. It completely changed the course of the Finals. I don’t think the Cavaliers win the series but they could have gotten it to 6 or maybe even 7 games. I’ll take my chances with LeBron in Game 7. Instead the entire air was taken out of the Cavaliers and they get swept. Still can’t believe it.
Mike: I can’t decide between my two other favorite teams, starting with all of the injuries with the Cubs this season. Between Brandon Morrow, Pedro Strop and Kris Bryant, plus a banged-up Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs limped their way into the post-season. Not sure a healthy Chicago roster could hold off the Red Sox, but the World Series probably would have gone more than five games.
But at least the Cubs are winning, unlike UNO hockey. UNO athletic director Trev Alberts may have made his Bill Callahan/Mike Riley whoopsie hire in selecting Mike Gabinet to replace legendary coach Dean Blais. Gabinet had only one year’s head coaching experience at a small school in Canada, yet got the nod to lead UNO in the toughest conference in college hockey. Gabinet was supposed to be bring a structured, disciplined style of hockey to UNO, and has delivered exactly the opposite with the worst defense in college hockey...and the heavy part of the schedule still to come.
UNLWiebe: I’m going to have to go with the Chiefs choking to the Titans in the playoffs at the beginning of the year. The Chiefs were up 21-3 and lost 24-21. Need I say more?
Jill: Watching my son limping (hopping on one leg actually) to the finish line in his first ever cross country race. He finished the last 40-50 yards of the course on what we later discovered was a broken hip. He still finished 17th place and got a medal - but we obviously didn’t stick around for the medal ceremony.
Patrick: The Detroit Red Wings stinking yet again.
Andy: Definitely it was watching the Vegas Golden Knights come up just short in their attempt at the greatest Cinderella story ever. Making it even worse was losing to a team with a complete and utter cheap-shot dirtbag like Tom Wilson, a guy who seems to truly want his legacy to be the greatest ever at attempting to injure unsuspecting and defenseless players. He has no respect for the game, is a coward in too many ways to count and his name is a stain on Lord Stanley’s Cup. Think Red Wings feelings about Claude Lemieux times 10 and you’ll have an idea of my hatred for this human pile of donkey droppings.
Jon: CN takes enough of my time that I barely pay attention to other sports beyond college. My “Worst Of” goes to seeing Alabama-Clemson in the national title game for the fourth straight year in a row. Damned near every national pundit spent the last two weeks screaming about expanding the playoff. What’s the point?
It’s not just that it’s not my team. It’s redundant and boring.
Your worst moment of the entire year?
Nate M: Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. We hear about deaths of celebrities every week it seems. There are three, recently, that have actually affected me on a personal level. First and foremost was Robin Williams. Second was Philip Seymour Hoffman. Third, and most recently was Anthony Bourdain.
You could always tell he had his personal demons. He was actually somewhat transparent about that fact on Parts Unknown and No Reservations. You could tell he had struggles and through those struggles I believe is how people like me could relate to him. Life is more about struggling than anything else. But I hope through those struggles is where we can find our purpose. Maybe Bourdain lost his purpose at some point. I don’t know.
I’ve read his iconic book Kitchen Confidential, but it was through Parts Unknown and No Reservations which I have learned so much about different cultures and people throughout the world. In fact, two days ago I watched an episode about Hungary. I never would have thought to visit that country before, but it looks beautiful. I hope to visit someday.
Lastly, and I’ll end with this. Bourdain’s take on beer snobs.
I was in San Francisco, and I was desperate for beer, and I walked into this place. I thought it was an old bar. And I sat down, and I looked up, and I noticed there was a wide selection of beers I’d never heard of. Which is fine. OK, I’m in some sort of brew pub. What’s good? But I looked around: the entire place was filled with people sitting there with five small glasses in front of them, filled with different beers, taking notes. This is not a bar. This is fucking Invasion of the Body Snatchers. This is wrong. This is not what a bar is about. A bar is to go to get a little bit buzzed, and pleasantly derange the senses, and have a good time, and interact with other people, or make bad decisions, or feel bad about your life. It’s not to sit there fucking analyzing beer. It’s antithetical.
Uglydog56: My dad died this year, which was good and bad. My siblings and I had a complicated relationship with our father. He had been in a lockdown Alzheimers unit for eight years, so it was time. The worst part was my great aunt that practically raised me quit fighting after he died and passed away soon after. It also somehow created a wedge between my brother and our extended family, and he needs them. They never liked me, because I wasn't cut out to farm, or become a junior CEO then retire early to farm. But my brother was always one of them. I'm not sure what exactly happened. The dynamics of a large family can be complex, I guess. The division in our family is the worst thing that happened this year to me. Gosh, this is a heavy round table.
UNLWiebe: I’m not going to lie, 2018 was a horrible year for me. I’m not going to go into detail on a lot of things that happened, but the worst thing happened in September. One Friday night, about a week before my birthday, my mom texted me and asked if she could call me. I just got off work and hadn’t texted her much that day. I had an interview earlier, and she didn't tell me good luck. I figured she was busy and wanted to ask me about it because she knew I was off work. I told my mom she could call me, saw that she read it and five minutes went by and she didn't call. I called her and when she answered I could tell something was wrong. She had to tell me on the phone, while crying, that our family’s dog died. Scamp was 14 years old, and he was seriously my best friend. I even took a few senior pictures with him back in 2015. It made it even worse that my mom felt horrible because she couldn’t be there in person knowing how hard of a year I had so far.
Jill: It was when I realized that the job I had for the past 20 years was coming to an end because of funding. I have loved the new paths that have opened up since then, but it was a very stressful few weeks adjusting to a new reality.
Andy: Seeing some good friends lose their wife and mother unexpectedly and well before her time a few weeks before Christmas. I believe that everything happens for a reason but that doesn’t stop me from feeling for them when I see them in pain. I continue to hope they can find some peace and that their grief recedes as soon as soon as genuinely possible.
Jon: I had a great year relative to everyone else’s entries. Possibly the worst thing was my daughter having to move back home as she struggled to find a job in LA, so she could get her life started. It was depressing for her. Otherwise, I stayed out of the hospital, which is a big thing for me!