It’s two days after Christmas and five days before New Year’s Day, so you’re certainly being inundated in every form of media with best-of lists and looks back at what 2015 provided. We love to reflect on the high points from the previous calendar year, but there are just as many people who will be happy to see the calendar flip over to 2016.
Here’s a look at the people in sports who won’t necessarily think back on 2015 with fondness.
Benjy Taylor — Despite taking over a very difficult situation and leading the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors to a 22-win season, Hawaii’s interim head coach was not rewarded with the full-time position. Though the ‘Bows seem to have gotten a good one in Eran Ganot, Taylor was rightfully vexed by the athletic department’s snub. Hawaii came within minutes of an NCAA Tournament appearance and gained traction within its fan base, but the coach who brought them to the brink was shown the door and instead took a job with Audi. I hope we see him again on the sidelines because he certainly deserves an opportunity when he wants one.
Norm Chow — There hasn’t been much positive material written about the former Hawaii head football coach over the past few years and I don’t like piling on. But Chow’s tenure at the helm came to an unceremonious end on Nov. 1 after a 58-7 loss to Air Force. I guess it could have been considered merciful to let Chow walk away before things could get even worse, but there was little to no progress over the majority of four difficult seasons. He was once considered a quarterback guru and brought in some capable arms, but the results never materialized. It’s certainly not the way Chow wanted his coaching career to finish in his home state.
Referees, officials and umpires — Those in charge of maintaining order and applying the rules could probably make this list every year. It’s a tough and thankless job, but that doesn’t mean it’s not sometimes done terribly. The Miami-Duke game-winning touchdown kick return, the Seahawks-Lions “batted ball” that wasn’t called, the officiating throughout the entire NCAA Tournament (including a historically bad Kentucky-Wisconsin game) and the umpires seeing nothing wrong with Chase Utley’s slide that broke Ruben Tejada’s leg are just a small percentage of the horrendous decision making on display in 2015. With the NFL on tap today, I’m sure we’ll have some more dubious material before 2016 moves in.
Stephanie Gilmore — The six-time world champion had a terrific start to her 2015 campaign and reached the final in the year’s first two contests. But she suffered a leg injury free surfing at Margaret River and had to pull out three rounds into the season’s third event. That injury led to Gilmore missing six of the year’s final seven competitions and finishing outside the Championship Tour’s top 10. Her absence gave way to Carissa Moore and Courtney Conlogue putting on a terrific battle for the world title, but Gilmore must already be looking forward to the opportunity to rejoin the world’s elite next season.
Rick Pitino — Sure, Louisville made the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament, but it’s been a tumultuous year for Pitino. His program has become the subject of scandal with players and recruits allegedly attending parties organized by a former staffer. Pitino claims to know nothing of the events, which players said included strippers. Things didn’t get much better Saturday when Louisville lost to Pitino’s former Kentucky program, 75-73. On the way out of the arena, Pitino was recorded making an obscene gesture to Wildcat fans. I’m definitely not qualified to get into Pitino’s psyche, so whether everything is beginning to unfurl for the seasoned coach is an issue we’ll have to table for now.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.