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Home / Articles / Columnists / Sports Feature /  2016 South Sports Year in Review: A Change is Gonna Come
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Thursday, January 5,2017

2016 South Sports Year in Review: A Change is Gonna Come

By Mark Tudino  

It’s more or less and article of faith among sports journalists that any sports list is sure to engage the audience. While it may be a quick way to start an argument it still leads to interesting discussions. So, as 2016 winds down, we bring you the top 10 South Florida sports stories – in our opinion. Feel free to disagree.

 

10. Olympic greatness. Anytime a country does well in the world’s greatest modern athletic spectacle, great pride is shown by the home of the athletes. Well, in the 2016 summer games South Florida more than held its own as athletes from our region registered 23 medals. For some perspective, if it were a country Florida’s medal count would have ranked 10 th – in the world.

9. High School Heroes. While the pros and major universities had uneven years, South Florida prep stars did well. Two schools in particular shined: American Heritage Plantation won the state class 5A title, defeating Ponte Vedra 35-33 for their 3 rd crown in 4 years. Not to be outdone, neighboring Broward County powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas vanquished Tampa Plant for the class 7A championship completing a threepeat while claiming their 10 th overall school football title. Well done, men!

8. New Sheriff in Town. On the heels of yet another disappointing season, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross moved quickly to secure his future and did so by hiring 38-year old Adam Gase as his new head coach. Touted as the “quarterback whisperer”, Gase’s main task was to mend the confidence of QB Ryan Tannehill, as well as that of the rest of the team. How’d he do? Check back later in this column.

7. More New Sheriffs. Pro football wasn’t the only business to make a change at the top. Collegiately, both FIU and FAU swung for the fences with their respective choices; FIU by hiring Former UM head man Butch Davis, and FAU by going for the controversial Lane Kiffen as its guy. Both men carry more baggage that a Jet Blue flight to New York, but the upside could be tremendous.

6. UM hits the Mark. If it seems we’ve talked a lot about football coaches, be it college or pro, it’s because we have. In Florida, for the most part, we have three seasons:

football season, recruiting season and spring football season. To that end, UM ended its “Golden” era by firing coach Al Golden and hiring former UM star Mark Richt, late of Georgia. His first year? 8-4 and a berth in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

5. Bye Blue Monster. Since 1962 South Florida, and specifically the Doral Resort in Miami, have hosted, in one form or another, a prestigious PGA tour event. No more. For a variety of reasons, the tour has taken the cornerstone of its Florida swing and moved it to Mexico. We are left with no chance to see the PGA’s best; yes, you can go to Orlando or Palm Beach Gardens but, sorry, it just won’t be the same.

4. Gallant gets the gate. Despite winning the NHL’s Atlantic Division, and achieving a franchise record 103 points in the process, the Panthers fired head coach Gerard Gallant just 22 games into the new season. His big sin? Not embracing the new ways to evaluate and use his talent – in other words a failure to embrace the “analytics”. By the way, as of this writing Florida is 2-5 since the change.

3. Dolphins Streak. After starting 1-4, Miami found its rhythm and confidence, winning six in a row at one point to move into the playoff race. While a somewhat weak schedule was helpful, there’s no doubt this group of players have bought into Coach Gase’s way of doing business.

2. Wade-County no more. After 13 magical seasons, Dwayne Wade left town to sign with his hometown Chicago Bulls. It still hurts to write those words, but sometimes business creates the need for a divorce. Who was right? Who was wrong? Who cares? It kills you to see him in any color except red and black.

1. The Death of Jose Fernandez. Sorry to end the year on a bummer, but there’s no doubt the passing of the 24-year old Marlins pitcher from a September boating accident, is a tragedy that transcends sports. He was a great pitcher, but more than that he was a symbol of hope and of the future for a generation of fans. Forget replacing his talent – how do you replace his spirit?

That’s it. Hope your holiday season is a peaceful one and all of your 2017 sporting wishes come true.

Happy New Year!


 

Mark Tudino is an attorney with offices in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties, whose practice specializes in all areas of civil litigation. He has lived in South Florida for more than 20 years. Prior to attending law school, he was a political and sports reporter for television stations across the country. His career allowed him to cover everything from presidential elections to national championship sports teams, and he still maintains a passion to observe and discuss the world of sports. Attorney at Law. 954-983-8000. 3475 Sheridan Street Suite #211. Hollywood, FL 33021.

 

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