Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Year in Review – First Quarter

As we enter the last few days of 2011, it’s time to take a look back at the past year in sports.

While it was another year without a title from any of Cleveland’s teams, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t interesting.

January started off with Browns team president Mike Holmgren telling “super coach” Eric Mangini that he and his 10-22 record (2-10 within the division) were no longer needed in Berea.

Thankfully, Holmgren fought off the urge to hire the over-rated Jon Gruden before finally selecting Rams’ offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for the job, with the biggest selling point being that Shurmur, Holmgren and general manager Tom Heckert are all on the same page when it comes to football philosophy.

One thing that concerned us at the time was Shurmur’s desire to be his own offensive coordinator, which may have hurt the team as it looked to fill out the coaching staff. But the team looks to have gotten it right with the hiring of Dick Jauron to run the 4-3 defense.

The month also found the Cavs deep into a slump that would eventually reach 26 games as the team went from Dec. 18 until Feb. 11 without a win.

February brought spring training and the hope that the Indians would go with a youth movement.

The Cavs pushed their losing streak to the historic brink before finally beating the Clippers in overtime.

Cavs general manager Chris Grant scored the biggest win of the season, trading Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Clippers for Baron Davis and an unprotected lottery pick that turned out to be the No. 1 overall selection in the draft.

The team also helped its draft position when leading scorer Antawn Jamison was lost for the year with a finger injury. While we don’t like to see anyone get hurt, Jamison being out of the lineup helped the Cavs pile up the losses.

As the month moved on, we learned more about why the Browns parted with Mangini, first when they released several “Mangini guys” from an aging roster, and later when general manager Tom Heckert explained the team’s new direction.

Finally, March opened with the unraveling of the tapestry of lies that Jim Tressel wove at Ohio State. As the month continued, the spin coming out of Columbus was dizzying. Apparently they never taught anyone at OSU that a lie ain’t a side of the story, it’s just a lie.

Luckily we had the Kent State men’s basketball team, which showed everyone you can be successful the right way.

Sadly, the NCAA didn’t agree, as they gave Cinderella a shocker on Selection Sunday: of the 37 at-large bids for the NCAA basketball tournament, only seven went to teams not in major conferences, one fewer than the previous year. The mid-majors got their revenge, however, during the tournament’s opening weekend.

As the Cavs continued through the month and the losses continued to tally, we started to worry that the team had quit on coach Byron Scott. But the Wine & Gold closed out the month with a victory over the Miami Heat.

And even though they hadn’t played a game in almost two months, the Browns were still in the news.

First, the team resigned back-up quarterback Seneca Wallace as insurance for Colt McCoy, Mike Holmgren told fans to keep calm & carry on and we started thinking about every Browns fan’s favorite time of the year: the NFL Draft.

Coming Tuesday: The Indians find early success, the Browns continue rebuilding the foundation of an aging defense, the U.S. Men’s National Team looks for a Gold Cup and the Cavs grab a point guard.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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