Today is the final day of 2014. Really. I know it is hard to believe. A year isn't supposed to go by that fast. But it always does. Which brings us to a holiday tradition. Looking back at the year that just sped by. What the heck happened? Well, we went through the pages of the yet-to-be-written history books and came up with five events that were the most compelling around here. Sporting events, of course. This is a sports column. Read on.
• Usually in these type of things, you start with five and count down to one. But why do that? We all know the No. 1 event in 2014 in local sports – by local I mean Inland Northwest high school and college and Seattle professional sports – was the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl. It might just be the No. 1 sporting event in the area's history, though it has a lot more competition for that spot. In 2014, nothing else came close. In a sense, all the other events played the role of the Denver Broncos. Good, sure, but not in the same ballpark as the Seahawks' Super Bowl victory. The only blemish? The 43-18 rout happened in New Jersey. Well, maybe the Hawks will get to clear that up in the year ahead. After all, the 2015 Super Bowl is in Arizona, a place with a bit better weather.
• So what were two through five? Those we can count down. And remember, this is my list. It's how I remember them. You may have your own ranking. That's what the comment section is for. If you don't like mine, make your own.
• No. 5: The Seattle Sounders have the best regular season in the MLS. The Sounders expected to be good in 2014 and they were. They won the U.S. Open Cup, one of three prestigious titles available to MLS teams. Then they won the Supporters' Shield. That was No. 2. But they couldn't get over the hump and make it a clean sweep, winning the MLS championship. Another playoff loss, this one to Los Angeles, killed that dream. But Clint Dempsey, the now-departed DeAndre Yedlin, Brad Evans and the rest had a season to remember, the best season in franchise history. And the crowds turned out to watch it.
• No. 4: Connor Halliday passes for an NCAA record 734 yards against California. Honestly, if the Cougars could have connected on a 19-yard field goal to win, this would be No. 2 on my list. But the last-second attempt sailed wide right – it was from 19-yards out people – and the Cougs lost 60-59. Still, Halliday's achievement can't be overlooked. Not only did he complete 49 of 70 passes for the NCAA-record yardage, Halliday also threw six touchdown passes and no interceptions. If it wasn't the best passing game of all-time, I'm not sure what beats it. And he led the Cougars nearly the length of the field in the final three minutes, trailing by a point. It was supposed to be a game-winning drive which would kickstart the second-half of the season. Instead, afterward all Halliday and the Cougars had was the passing record.
• No. 3: The Mariners actually contend for a playoff spot all season long. It came down to the final day. In a sense. Yes, the M's contended for the second wild card spot until the end, but, in a 162-game season, it never comes down to one game. The Mariners finished 87-75, one game behind Oakland for the final playoff spot. If the A's had just lost once more, if Texas could have found a way to win that final regular season game ... malarkey. The M's really let the postseason slip away a week before when they lost five consecutive games, two of them against lowly Houston. Or maybe it slipped away with the crushing 10-inning 3-2 loss at Oakland in mid-September. Whatever. At least they were in the race for the entire summer and that's worth celebrating. It's been a while since that's happened and it made the middle of the year so much better.
No. 2: The Seahawks win their final six regular season games and clinch home-field for the NFC playoffs. Why another Hawk achievement on the list? Mainly because it was so unexpected – by me at least. And it sets up the chance for the No. 1 event in 2015, the Seahawks winning another Super Bowl. There's a far greater chance of that happening now, with Seattle at home for the playoffs. Winning in Green Bay or Dallas would have been a much harder task. Now that doesn't have to happen. The road to Arizona runs through Seattle. For the rest of the NFC, that's as tough as getting over the Kyber Pass in winter.
• WSU: It was a busy day, what with the Pac-12 basketball season about to begin. Jacob Thorpe spoke with a trio of Cougar players and posted the videos on the blog. He also has a transcript of what Ernie Kent had to say on the Pac-12 basketball coaches' media call yesterday. ... There was also football news Tuesday, with Vince Mayle spreading the word he had been invited to the NFL combine and Toni Pole headed to an all-star game. ... Jacob also has a morning post with links and will hold a live chat today at 11 a.m. ... The Pac-12 had one football game yesterday. It was a rout. Stanford walloped Maryland 45-21 in Santa Clara. By the way, the turf at the new 49ers stadium still is awful.
• Gonzaga: Jim Meehan had to leave San Diego yesterday and come back to our freezing cold weather. Sorry. But he did give you a present. A day-after look at the USD win. ... BYU will win or lose thanks to its offense - and its health.
• EWU: The Big Sky basketball season begins Thursday – New Year's Day doesn't seem to be the best day to begin a conference season, but maybe that's just me – and to get you ready, John Blanchette has a column on the upsets the "little guys" pulled in the preseason. Eastern's win over Indiana is at the center of the column.
• Idaho: Sean Kramer uses this blog post to preview the Vandals Big Sky-starting homestand.
• Whitworth: Yes, the Whitworth women won again. They are 9-0.
• Chiefs: Spokane hits the halfway point tonight with its annual game at Tri-City. Chris Derrick has a look at the first half and how the Chiefs played. ... Everett is on the road and started its trip with a loss at Seattle.
• Seahawks: Though there have been more subtractions than additions, this year's Hawk offense has performed better. Maybe that's why offensive line coach Tom Cable is on the head coaching lists of some teams. ... So is Dan Quinn, the defensive coordinator. ... He won't have Earl Thomas if he leaves, though. ... The playoff tickets that went on sale yesterday? They didn't last long. ... The Hawks met or exceeded a lot of expectations this season. But some weren't even a factor. ... The newest fullback is quite a load. ... By the way, what is a futures contract? And who is the Hawks' MVP this season?
• Mariners: The long-rumored Seth Smith trade became a reality yesterday as the M's used right-hander Brandon Maurer to pick up the San Diego outfielder. Expect a platoon in right field this season. ... Here’s a look at the M's current 40-man roster.
• That's a wrap for 2014. We put together about 360 or so of these columns during the year, which is probably about 358 more than you needed. We promise – promise – to take a few more days off in 2015. You can thank me later. Have a safe and sane New Year's Eve and we'll be back tomorrow or Friday (depending on how much sleep I get). Until then ...