Without a doubt, there has been no shortage of drama in 2016. Depending on whom you speak with, it has either been a fantastic year or an absolutely dreadful one. However, there’s no question it has been a spectacular year for college sports.
Despite the abundance of great stories and moments for 2016, there are some that stand out from the rest and have taken their place atop of the mountain in college athletics glory.
The Top 10 College Sports Moments of 2016
They say you’re only as old as you feel. For Joe Thomas Sr., the father of Green Bay Packers Joe Thomas Jr., it was a dream of his to play college football. After his construction business hit hard times, he decided to go back to school to obtain an engineering degree.
He walked-on at South Carolina State as a running back and in a game against Savannah State in late November, he had his first rushing attempt, resulting in a three yard gain. With that carry, he became the oldest college football player ever.
6-foot-2 Pat Dickert of Colby College proved you don’t have to waste all the good stuff during competition, dunking from behind the free throw line in an empty gym.
Unlike Julius Erving and Michael Jordan, there would be no foot on the line or in the paint. The Colby player took flight like Superman and finished off the dunk, becoming a legend on Instagram and YouTube.
In the Irish Universities Athletics Association Championships last spring, everyone on hand witnessed possibly the greatest comeback in 4×400 history. Phil Healy, a University of College Cork relay runner and last minute addition to the race, took the baton, and despite improbable odds, came out from the “depths of hell” to win the race.
Tom Izzo’s second seeded Spartans were a popular pick to make the Final Four but those brackets were destroyed after 15 seed Middle Tennessee State pulled off a shocking 90-81 upset over two seed Michigan State. Perhaps the most surprising aspect was that Michigan State trailed the entire game.
ST LOUIS, MO – MARCH 18: Reggie Upshaw #30 of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders reacts after a dunk late in the game against the Michigan State Spartans during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 18, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Leave it to D-II Northwest Missouri State to pull off the most entertaining set of laterals since The Music City Miracle.
The play came against Pittsburg State back in October. Here’s what we wrote:
“Kevin Berg intercepted a pass as time expired in the second quarter. He returned it for at least 60 yards before flipping to teammate Edward Richey, who then threw it up like a hot-potato Hail Mary. Catching that lateral? Defensive end Harold Brantly, who then scored his likely first and last touchdown of his career.”
Click the pic below to watch
In its first ever College World Series appearance, Coastal Carolina capped off a historic run with the school’s first national championship in any sport. The Chanticleers beat big name programs like LSU, Florida, TCU, Texas Tech and Arizona to capture the title. They went 6-0 in elimination games including back-to-back wins over Arizona after facing a 0-1 deficit.
Omaha, NE – JUNE 30: Left fielder Anthony Marks #29 of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers jumps on top of the dog pile after beating the Arizona Wildcats 4-3 to win the National Championship at the College World Series Championship Series on June 30, 2016 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
East Tennessee State players Devontavius Payne and T.K. Cromer found a new way to thank a pair of students for their support. Students Garrett Pack and Jeremiah Pearson would win free college tuition if Payne and Cromer made half-court shots for them.
Payne stepped up first and nailed it. Crowd went nuts. No way was Cromer going to do it as well, right? Wrong. He sank his shot too. That has to be a better feeling than any in-game situation could ever provide.
After winning its conference championship on a buzzer-beater, Northern Iowa decided the sequel would be even better.
Trailing 72-70, Texas’ Isaiah Taylor tied the game with a runner in the paint leaving 2.7 seconds on the clock. The Longhorns’ enjoyment was short lived as Northern Iowa’s Paul Jesperson took the in-bound pass and nailed a half-court shot at the buzzer.
Within a span of two days, NIU went from the being on the winning side of a March Madness thriller to the lowest of lows you could experience.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – MARCH 20: Tonny Trocha-Morelos #10 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrates with a teammate after defeating the Northern Iowa Panthers in double overtime with a score of 88 to 92 during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Chesapeake Energy Arena on March 20, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Texas A&M was down 69-57 with 34 seconds remaining in regulation and then proceeded to deliver the most jaw-dropping comeback in college basketball history. The Aggies created four turnovers and went on a 14-2 run including the game-tying steal and lay-up with 1.9 seconds left. They would go on to win 92-88 in double overtime.
What else could possibly beat the most incredible ending in NCAA Tournament history?
North Carolina, a team still under investigation for years of academic fraud, entered the championship game as the favorite. Villanova was looking for their first national title since 1985.
With the Wildcats leading the Tar Heels 74-71, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit a double-pump three pointer to tie the game with four seconds left. With momentum on North Carolina’s side, many believed the game would go into overtime and ultimately lead to another title for the Tar Heels. However, Villanova put an end to that momentum when Kris Jenkins in-bounded the ball and trailed Ryan Arcidiacono going up the court – Arcidiacono then dumped the ball off to Jenkins for the buzzer-beating three to win the championship.
Move over Christian Laettner, insert ‘Crying Jordan’ faces and chalk this game up as one for the good guys.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline, a hockey fanatic, a pro wrestling connoisseur and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaCaudill85 or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.