2016: The Year That Almost Was

Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; A Carolina Panthers fan reacts in the stands after the Carolina Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 at Levi
Feb 7, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; A Carolina Panthers fan reacts in the stands after the Carolina Panthers lost to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 at Levi /

2016 is near over. How should we remember it?

The year 2016 is coming to an end. The college football year is essentially done now that all the bowl games involving the area schools has passed. The Carolina Panthers’ year is also basically over with a meaningless game left against Tampa. So what did 2016 tell us?

The year 2016 was the year of great opportunity and also the year of falling just of that potential.

It started when the Panthers won their NFC playoff games against the Seahawks and Cardinals. Those games pitted the team against their emotional rival and the new hot team in the conference. The Panthers took care of business against both of them, opening up a lot of optimism for the upcoming Super Bowl.

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Then it just didn’t happen. The Denver defense proved to be too much for our boys to handle while Peyton Manning did just enough to keep the game away. The Panthers got a big performance from Kony Ealy and a questionable late reaction by Cam Newton. The Panthers left the game on the losing side, but with optimism for the future.

That future did not appear this season. Josh Norman was released. Injuries hit the offensive line hard while Newton took hits harder. The secondary had to grow up, but not in time to save the season late. The Panthers fell victim to the Super Bowl curse and will not make the playoffs.

The North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team came into the tail end of the 2015-16 college season with a talent filled roster with two senior leaders. Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson pushed the team to ACC Regular Season and Tournament Titles. The team then took on the NCAAs and made the Final Four and even the championship game.

A hard fought game resulted with Villanova. Paige brought the team within a breath of victory on a big shot only for Nova to make the final shot of the game. Once again they were so close.

The Tar Heels are bringing the veterans back and Duke is bringing the freshmen to try and compete again. State has some new weapons as well, and it is too early to see how it will resolve.

The Tar Heels football team was blessed with a NFL-ready quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, but they were unable to turn that into an ACC Championship. Nick Chubb, a hurricane, Daves Cutcliffe and Doeren saw that that did not happen. They came up just short against Stanford in a combination of bad luck and mistakes.

Wake Forest had the breakthrough football season that Dave Clawson needed, but we found out that a radio analyst had been sabotaging the team as much he could for the last three years. As a result, the 7-6 record may not reflect what could have been.

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Finally the Charlotte Hornets made it into the playoffs in a weak year for the Eastern Conference. They were unable to escape the first round again though they did push the Miami Heat to the limit. They then lost a fair part of that team but retained Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams. The current Hornets are trending well but their fate is still far from certain at this point.

The Hornets also witnessed the departure of the NBA All-Star Game in the aftermath of HB2. The ACC and NCAA also pulled events in short order. There will be less NCAA action to see in the state this March.

Next: Wolfpack Ready for Conference Season

So 2017 will be a year with measured expectations, perhaps they will be exceeded.