In a few short hours, we will say goodbye to twenty fifteen and welcome in a brand new year with brand new opportunities, brand new journeys, brand new adventures and brand new failed diets.
But before we close the book on the year that gave us so much — like all-day breakfast at McDonald’s and the 1989 World Tour — let’s look back at some of its best stories and moments.
Thanks for everything, 2015. You were great.
Kentucky basketball went 38-1.
Though it ended with arguably the biggest heartbreak in Kentucky basketball’s 112-year existence, the 2014-15 Wildcats had a remarkable season, tying the 2011-12 team for the most wins in men’s Division 1 history. The Cats ended the regular season with a perfect 31-0 record, followed by the SEC Tournament Championship and a run to the Final Four.
I’ll stop there.
The new Commonwealth Stadium opened with a BOOM.
The 2015 Kentucky football season did not end the way fans had hoped, but it began with a storybook opening in the new Commonwealth Stadium.
On the first play from scrimmage, in front of a sold-out crowd, Boom Williams carried the ball 75 yards for a touchdown.
Excitement around the football program couldn’t have been higher.
I’ll stop there.
KSR crossed over into politics.
Whether you embraced it or hated it, you have to respect Matt Jones’ foray into politics in 2015. KSR hosted a gubernatorial debate on its morning airwaves, one that altered the race; Matt was the emcee at Fancy Farm, the state’s biggest political event; and then he seriously considered a run at Congress.
No matter what side you’re on, you can’t deny KSR’s 2015 influence on the political scene.
“Stick to sports!”
American Pharoah won the Triple Crown.
Maybe the biggest story in sports in 2015, American Pharoah became horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner since 1978 and only its 12th ever.
American Pharoah followed up his Triple Crown with a win at the Breeders’ Cup, earning him the sport’s first Grand Slam.
Lexington hosted the Breeders’ Cup.
While we’re on the subject of horse racing, what about how well Lexington handled its first time hosting the Breeders’ Cup? The city’s visitors and event officials had nothing but great things to say about Breeders’ Cup weekend, from the scene at Keeneland on into downtown and other happenings around Lexington.
Craig Fravel, president and CEO of the Breeders’ Cup, said afterward, “All the things we set out to do with the Keeneland Breeders’ Cup, I’m happy to say we accomplished. I feel confident we will be back.”
John Calipari signed a new deal at Kentucky.
Calipari and UK agreed to a new one-year extension worth $8 million, securing his spot in the first seat on UK’s bench and putting an end to the seemingly never-ending NBA rumors, at least for a little while.
The extension brought Cal’s current deal to $54 million over seven seasons. It was his fourth extension since he came to Kentucky, one for each Final Four appearance.
Mitch Barnhart was named Athletic Director of the Year.
Kentucky AD Mitch Barnhart was named Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
Yet some of you haven’t forgiven him for hiring Billy Gillispie, and never will.
Tony Delk went to the rafters.
Delk became the 43rd Wildcat to see his name raised to the rafters in Rupp Arena. Kentucky’s all-time leader in three-pointers was the first player in 15 years to have his jersey retired, going back to 2000 when Jamal Mashburn joined the greats high above the Rupp Arena floor.
Karl-Anthony Towns was the No. 1 overall pick.
“With the first pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves select… Karl-Anthony Towns from the University of Kentucky.”
That is working out quite well for the Wolves.
John Calipari went into the Hall of Fame.
Coming off his first AP Coach of the Year award, John Calipari earned the highest honor one could receive: an induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
“It’s just surreal for me,” Cal said, after learning he would be one of 11 new inductees. “It’s not something I ever thought about or thought would happen … I’m so appreciative.”â€‹
He is only the seventh active college basketball coach to be elected to the Hall.
Jamal Murray picked Kentucky.
Calipari’s 2015 recruiting class received a last-minute upgrade in the summer when Jamal Murray picked the Cats over Oregon.
Murray, now the star of the current Kentucky team, reclassified from the 2016 class to get an early start on college basketball. He became a top 10 player soon after the reclassification, and saved UK’s recruiting haul that missed out on several of its top targets in the spring.
The surprising addition of Murray made Kentucky an instant contender for the national title once again.
John Calipari signed a monster 2016 recruiting class.
Cal’s recruiting prowess continued in the 2016 class, which may not only be his best, but one of the best of all-time. UK has already signed five of the top 16 players in the Top247 rankings, including the top point guard and combo guard in the entire class. The Cats are also in the mix for the nation’s No. 1 center, to play alongside three incoming five-star power forwards.
It’s currently the No. 1 recruiting class in the country, per usual.
Kentucky beat Duke for only the second time since the 1978 title game.
The Cats were 1-7 against the fifth-ranked Blue Devils entering the Champions Classic game in Chicago in November.
Then, this happened:
Katina Powell wrote Breaking Cardinal Rules.
In rivalry news, the University of Louisville gave us a gift that will keep giving forever in the form of a book written by a hooker who alleges to have slept with members of the basketball team. Breaking Cardinals Rules, the best piece of literature ever, in my opinion, opened a can of prostitution worms in the UofL basketball dorm that has NCAA sanctions on the horizon for the Cards.
Our dramatic reading of the book’s excerpts is one of my favorite things we’ve ever done:
Kentucky beat Louisville, Pitino embarrassed himself.
And in a perfect ending to the year, Kentucky defeated Louisville for the eighth time in nine meetings during the John Calipari era. It was one of the best all-around games in the series’ history, but no one is talking about the actual basketball because Rick Pitino stole the spotlight with his postgame antics.
If not for Rick, his finger and absence at the postgame microphone, the talk would be of a hard-fought game with UK’s veterans carrying the team to a narrow victory.
We got Rick’s one-finger farewell instead, and that’s how we’ll say goodbye to 2015.