Top local sports stories of 2012
BY PATRICK PRINCE World Assistant Editor
Sunday, December 30, 2012
12/30/12 at 7:08 AM
As 2012 comes to a close, we take a look back at the top stories in the Tulsa area as voted on by the Tulsa World sports staff.
1. OKC Thunder make the NBA Finals
Behind young stars Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden and one of the best home atmospheres in the NBA, the Oklahoma City Thunder make it to the NBA Finals before losing to the Miami Heat. The Thunder's playoff run consists of sweeping the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, downing the L.A. Lakers 4-1 and rebounding from an 0-2 deficit to defeat the San Antonio Spurs. Durant leads the league (28 ppg) in scoring and Westbrook is fifth (23.6). In July, coach Scott Brooks is rewarded with a four-year deal worth between $16 million and $18 million. Before the start of the current season, Harden is traded to Houston on Oct. 27 when he and the Thunder can't reach a contract extension. Harden signs a five-year, $80 million deal with the Rockets on Oct. 31.
MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World file
2. Ross Parmley fired as TU athletic director
On Jan. 19, 38-year-old Ross Parmley is announced as Tulsa's new athletic director, replacing Bubba Cunningham, who had taken the AD job at North Carolina. However, Parmley's tenure is a short one. In late November, TU suspends Parmley after he is named in an FBI investigation of an alleged Oklahoma City gambling operation. Then on Dec. 3, TU President Steadman Upham sends a letter to TU staff, faculty and students saying Parmley had been fired effective immediately. Parmley's tenure as TU AD is marked by two marquee decisions: He fired Doug Wojcik as basketball coach and hired Danny Manning to replace him.
TU Golden Hurricane head coach Danny Manning shouts at one of his players during the men's basketball game against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World
T3. Change at TU
Tulsa basketball coach Doug Wojcik is fired in early March. After seven seasons, he was TU's all-time leader in wins, but had a glaring hole in his resume - no NCAA Tournament appearances. Before the end of the month, 45-year-old Danny Manning is announced as TU's new coach. Manning is a college basketball legend as a player and a former NBA All-Star, but has no head-coaching experience. He's given a four-year deal worth $2.5 milllion. Dick Vitale calls it a "great hire."
Wojcik is now the head coach at the College of Charleston.
Coach Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State began 2012 with a dramatic win over Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
T3. OSU's season
The year begins in dramatic fashion with a Fiesta Bowl overtime victory over Andrew Luck and Stanford to finish 12-1 - Oklahoma State's first 12-win season. A few days later, coach Mike Gundy gets a new eight-year deal worth $30 million. However, the 2012 season proves challenging. Injuries at quarterback and a last-second home loss to Texas hurt OSU in a 7-5 season. OSU fans also deal with their coach flirting with openings at Arkansas and Tennessee as disagreements between Gundy and AD Mike Holder become public. The Cowboys play Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Tuesday.
Injured Tulane player Devon Walker is treated by staff after being injured on the last play of the game against Tulsa. CHRIS KAISER/Courtesy
5. Tragedy at Chapman
On Sept. 8, on the last play of the first half of the Tulsa-Tulane football game, Green Wave senior safety Devon Walker, 21, collides helmet-to-helmet with a teammate and sustains a cervical spine fracture. A Tulane team physician said on Sept. 8, "I do not think, based on the information that we have that his life was ever in danger or at risk." Witnesses, however, report seeing medical personnel administer what they believe to be CPR as Walker was motionless on the field. The next day, he undergoes a three-hour surgery at St. Francis to stabilize his spine. He spends Christmas at home, but as 2013 approaches, according to a New Orleans Times-Picayune story, Walker still struggles to breathe, fights to speak and battles to regain movement of his extremities.
Bobby Petrino speaks during a news conference after he was injured in a motorcycle accident in April. GARETH PATTERSON/AP file
6. Scandal at Arkansas
Excitement was high for Arkansas football heading into the 2012 season. In 2011, Arkansas went 11-2, just the third 11-win season in its history. Then a motorcycle crash involving coach Bobby Petrino in April changed everything. Petrino initially says he was alone, but later admits that Jessica Dorrell, whom he hired in the UA athletic department, was with him on the motorcycle. Petrino, a married father of four, also admits to an inappropriate relationship with Dorrell. On April 10, Petrino is fired by athletic director Jeff Long. At the press conference announcing Petrino's firing, Long said, "... Petrino engaged in a pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior designed to deceive me and the members of the athletic staff, both before and after the motorcycle accident." Under new coach John L. Smith, the Hogs struggle to 4-8. In December, Petrino is hired as football coach at Western Kentucky.
Oklahoma's Landry Jones throws the ball during their game against Oklahoma State. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
7. OU's season
Just after the new year, Oklahoma's record-setting quarterback Landry Jones announces he is returning to Norman for his senior year. "I want to accomplish the goals that I set before I got here, and there is still a lot more to do," he says. Less than a week later, it is announced that former defensive coordinator Mike Stoops is returning to the OU coaching staff. Sooner Nation again talks of competing for a national title, but two home losses, one to Kansas State in September and then a loss to Notre Dame in October, boot the Sooners out of the national title picture. The Sooners finish the regular season 10-2 and face Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl on Friday.
Kurt Budke's widow Shelley Budke is embraced by OSU's Lindsey Keller after the Cowgirls won the WNIT championship in March. JAMES GIBBARD/Tulsa World file
8. Tragedy then triumph for OSU Cowgirls
In a season where it dealt with the death of head coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna in a Nov. 17, 2011, plane crash, the Oklahoma State women's basketball team rebounds to win the WNIT title with a 75-68 win over James Madison at Gallagher-Iba Arena on March 31. The last person to cut down the net is Shelley Budke, widow of former coach Kurt Budke, who was one of four killed in a single-engine plane crash in Arkansas. Budke and Serna were on their way to visit a recruit. OSU wins six consecutive WNIT games by an average of 14 points, never trails in the second half of any WNIT game and outscores tournament opponents 200-96 in the paint.
"I have never been more proud of a group of ladies than I am of this group," OSU coach Jim Littell said, addressing the crowd after the game.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, left, runs past St. Louis Rams outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar on his way to a 52-yard touchdown run during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game. TOM GANNAM/AP Photo
9. Peterson runs wild
Less than a year after tearing two ligaments in his left knee, Adrian Peterson is tearing through NFL defenses and is approaching history. The former University of Oklahoma running back started this season slowly (but it is impressive he was able to even play in Week 1), but beginning with a 153-yard effort against Arizona in late October, Peterson has been running wild. He has 1,898 yards - a career high - and needs 102 yards to become the seventh NFL running back to reach 2,000 yards in one season. He needs 208 yards in Sunday's regular-season finale against Green Bay to break Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 set in 1984.
Jenks football players hoist the championship trophy after the 6A state title game against Norman North. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
10. Jenks wins 6A title
Behind senior running back Trey'Vonne Barr'e and a stout defense, the Trojans capture their first state football title since 2007 with a 55-20 win over Norman North on Nov. 30 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. Barr'e, the Tulsa World state player of the year, rushes for 290 yards against Norman North and was Class 6A's top rusher with 2,237 yards and scorer with 32 touchdowns. Following a Week 2 loss at DeSoto, Texas, only one team scores more than 14 points on the Trojans defense. Jenks loses its first two games then wins 12 straight. Coach Allan Trimble now has 10 state titles in his 17 seasons with the Trojans.
Original Print Headline: The year that was
OSU's Weeden and Blackmon taken in first round of NFL draft >>> TU wins C-USA football title >>> ORU coaching legend Ken Trickey dies at 79 >>> Tulsa hosts Texas League All-Star game >>> C-USA continues to lose and add teams
OKC's Eric Maynor (left), James Harden and Kevin Durant celebrate their Western Conference Championship win over the San Antonio Spurs alongside TNT's Ernie Johnson at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City on June 6. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World file