2017 Year in Review: The year in sports


INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - As we near the end of 2017, the Eyewitness Sports team compiled a list of the 13 biggest sports stories from the past year. The list starts at #13, working up to the most impactful storyline of the year with commentary on each story from WTHR.com's Bob Kravitz and Sports Director Dave Calabro.

Looking for a refresher? Just click on the headline to see our full coverage.

13) Chris Holtmann leaves Butler

Holtmann thought he’d spend many years at Butler, but from the start, one of his dream jobs was at Ohio State. So when the Buckeyes came calling with more money and more security, Holtman did what most sane humans do: He pulled up stakes and headed east.
--Bob Kravitz

12) Purdue reaches a Bowl game

This was supposed to be a rebuilding season for Purdue football, which had known nothing but hard times since their last bowl appearance in 2012. But Jeff Brohm, their first-year head coach, pulled a small miracle out of a hat, leading the Boilers to the Foster Farms Bowl against Arizona in Santa Clara, Calif.
--Bob Kravitz

Pat McAfee
Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee takes the field before an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Indianapolis, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

11) Pat McAfee retires

In typically goofy McAfee style, he announced his retirement during a Barstool show on Comedy Central. The Pro Bowl punter made his name as a special teams ace and a philanthropist, and now runs Barstool Heartland while continuing to give back to the community.
--Bob Kravitz

10) Takuma Sato becomes first Asian to win Indy 500

Sato, the fearless driver from Japan, became the first Asian ever to win the Indianapolis 500. His victory was widely celebrated in his home country, where he was feted like a conquering hero.
--Bob Kravitz

9) Archie Miller hired to replace Tom Crean

In a bit of a surprise, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass fired coach Tom Crean despite winning three Big Ten titles. He was replaced by up-and-coming former Dayton coach Archie Miller, who has struggled during the early portion of his tenure in Bloomington.
--Bob Kravitz

San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Sept. 12, 2016
San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid (35) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Sept. 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

8) Colin Kaepernick

Quarterback/political activist Colin Kaepernick began the movement of athletes taking a knee during the National Anthem, a move that was both applauded and derided. Since that time, he has not been invited back into the NFL, raising concerns that teams colluded to keep the polarizing player out of the league.
--Bob Kravitz

7) Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s last run at the Brickyard

The most popular driver in recent NASCAR history took his final laps around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Brickyard 400. Sadly, he was knocked out of the race. But he left a lifetime of memories.
--Bob Kravitz

6) Butler's surprising run in the NCAA basketball tournament

After a fine regular season, the Dawgs did what the Dawgs always do – they made noise in the NCAA Tournament. They entered the tournament as a No. 4 seed and beat No. 13 Winthrop and No. 12 Middle Tennessee before finally losing to the eventual national champion North Carolina, 92-80.
--Bob Kravitz

5) The Colts' lost season

It doesn’t take a genius to understand why the Colts have fallen off the map this season: No Luck, no hope. It’s just like 2011, when Manning missed the entire season and Indy went 2-14. Meanwhile, Chris Ballard continues to build this team from the ground up as the team waits for Luck’s much-anticipated return to the field.
--Bob Kravitz

4) John Andretti's cancer fight

The hardest story I had to tell this year was John Andretti’s battle against colon cancer. He was so brave to use his platform to impact others. It was remarkable to hear about hundreds of people in central Indiana going to get colonoscopies because of John’s story. The #CheckIt4Andretti campaign was a true highlight this year. John is doing well and appears to be cancer free!
--Dave Calabro

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck
FILE - Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, center, Brian Schwenke, left, and defensive end Kendall Langford, right, during the NFL team's football training camp in Indianapolis, Sunday, July 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
3) Andrew Luck misses the entire season

The endless saga to end all endless sagas. He had shoulder surgery last January and everybody expected him to return early this regular season. It never happened. After about a month in Europe, Luck is returning to Indy, where he will resume his throwing regimen and answer questions about whether he will need another surgery.
--Bob Kravitz

2) Colts unveil Peyton Manning statue, induct him into the Ring of Honor

If the Colts were ever going to build a statue for anybody, it had to be for Peyton Manning. And so the massive and beautiful bronze stands outside Lucas Oil Stadium, an enduring memory of a golden era in Colts football. He also entered the Ring of Honor that day.
--Bob Kravitz

1) Paul George's departure

He said he wanted to stay. Then Paul George’s agent told the Pacers and Kevin Pritchard he didn’t want to stay. So the Pacers made a deal, one that was widely panned at the time, but has turned out beautifully for the home team. Victor Oladipo has been a star and Domantas Sabonis has been very good, mostly off the bench.
--Bob Kravitz