Gil LeBreton

Columnist’s fearless sports predictions for 2016

Prediction: Steve Harvey will be 0-for-3 in handing out championship trophies.
Prediction: Steve Harvey will be 0-for-3 in handing out championship trophies. AP

It was a dark and stormy night. Honest.

I was stuck in Chicago with snow and sleet blanketing O’Hare Airport, and there was no way that I was going to be able to get home in time to finish prognosticating the entire 2016 sports year before our New Year’s morning newspaper hit your doorstep.

What? You think I just make this stuff up?

Ha! Before my flight home from Buffalo was canceled last week, I had predicted that the Cowboys would get pummeled by the Redskins, that the two College Football Playoff semifinals would be snorefests, and that TCU would overcome a 31-0 halftime deficit to beat Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.

Honest.

For the 34th year in a row, therefore, here’s what to look for in the coming year in the wide, wide world of sports:

January

Ken Griffey Jr., Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell elected to Baseball Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens both named on more than 50 percent of the BBWAA ballots for the first time (75 percent required for election) … Rangers sign free agent 3B Chris Johnson … Cowboys mascot nuisance Rowdy slams into Google self-driving car at charity event.

Seahawks, Redskins, Bengals and Chiefs win NFL wild-card round games … NFL coaching carousel sends Mike Shanahan to San Francisco as head coach, Doug Pederson to Philadelphia and Chip Kelly to Tennessee … Kevin Sumlin leaves Texas A&M to reunite with Johnny Manziel in Cleveland. Houston’s Tom Herman named new Aggies head coach … New York Giants send second-round draft choice to Saints for right to hire Sean Payton … Jerry Jones again says he’ll stick with Jason Garrett.

Last-second field goal gives Alabama 27-24 victory over Clemson for College Football Playoff championship. Steve Harvey on hand to present winning trophy to Dabo Swinney.

NFL owners give go-ahead for Chargers and Raiders franchises to move to Los Angeles in time for 2016 season. Rams will remain in St. Louis and play at proposed $1.1 billion riverfront stadium … Arizona Cardinals defeat Carolina Panthers in NFC Championship Game. Peyton Manning comes off bench to lead Denver Broncos over New England Patriots for AFC title.

February

Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene and Orlando Pace selected to Pro Football Hall of Fame … Patrick Peterson interception return for TD clinches Cardinals’ 31-20 win over Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Steve Harvey congratulates Peyton Manning on victory … Arizona’s Carson Palmer named MVP … Worldwide TV audience unable to distinguish Coldplay halftime performance from podcast of NFL concussion protocol … Kevin Harvick wins Daytona 500 … Rangers trade pitchers Keone Kela and Nick Martinez and outfielder Jairo Beras to Brewers for catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

March

UT Arlington wins Sun Belt Conference tournament in New Orleans, earning second-ever NCAA bid. Mavs’ Kevin Hervey named tourney MVP … Kansas wins Big 12 men’s basketball tournament in Kansas City … Seven Big 12 teams make NCAA tourney field, as well as Texas A&M from SEC … Cowboys’ Greg Hardy, Rolando McClain and Mo Claiborne become NFL unrestricted free agents … In NCAA, UTA Mavs upset Florida, but fall to Louisville in second round … Aggies lose to Kansas in second round, Baylor eliminated by Virginia … Oklahoma, Kansas, North Carolina and Michigan State make Final Four … Texas, UConn, Maryland and South Carolina earn their way to women’s Final Four … Rangers leave Arizona spring training with starting rotation of Cole Hamels, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Colby Lewis and Chi Chi Gonzalez … Yu Darvish begins season on disabled list.

April

One true champion: Oklahoma defeats Big 12 rival Kansas in Houston to win NCAA men’s Final Four … UConn wins 11th women’s Final Four crown … Rangers’ Opening Day lineup against Mariners: DeShields, Choo, Beltre, Fielder, Lucroy, Hamilton, Moreland, Odor and Andrus. Cole Hamels pitches season opener … Still crestfallen from Rose Bowl defeat, native Iowan Mike Doocy of Fox4 pledges to have new good luck overalls in time for football season … Kevin Harvick wins NASCAR Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway … Dallas’ Jordan Spieth repeats as Masters champion … NBA Mavericks finish 50-32, but fall to Clippers in playoff first round … Tennessee makes DE Joey Bosa of Ohio State the No. 1 pick in NFL Draft … With No. 4 overall pick, Cowboys select safety Jalen Ramsey of Florida State. Cowboys trade third-round pick to Tennessee for QB Zach Mettenberger … Jerry Jones reveals he was “comfortably numb” on Johnny Walker Blue for most of 4-12 Cowboys season.

May

Nyquist wins 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby … TCU wins NCAA baseball Fort Worth regional, but Texas A&M knocks off the Frogs in Super Regional at College Station to advance to the College World Series … Yu Darvish activated from Rangers’ disabled list … In admitted last shot to get back on Ellen, Dale Hansen: Unplugged supports phoning moms on Mother’s Day … Jordan Spieth completes hometown golf daily double, winning Byron Nelson Classic and Colonial NIT in successive weeks … Scott Dixon takes checkered flag at Indianapolis 500 … Google self-driving car finishes 16th.

June

Florida defeats Louisiana-Lafayette to win College World Series … Golden State Warriors complete dominating run to title, defeating Cleveland Cavaliers in NBA Finals. Steve Harvey presents Larry O’Brien Trophy to LeBron … Graham Rahal captures Firestone 600 IndyCar race at TMS … Rory McIlroy ends Spieth streak, winning U.S. Open at Oakmont, Pa. … Philadelphia 76ers make LSU’s Ben Simmons No. 1 overall pick in NBA Draft … Mavericks’ first pick comes at No. 47, selecting Gary Payton II, point guard from Oregon State … Big 12 presidents reject expansion bids from Houston, Boise State and Western Governors University.

July

At All-Star break, Rangers lead AL West with 51-39 record … Adrian Beltre, Jonathan Lucroy, Shin-Soo Choo and Cole Hamels make American League All-Star squad … Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic win Wimbledon singles titles … Alberto Contador triumphs at incident-free Tour de France … Dez Bryant, Tony Romo sidelined with injuries as Cowboys camp opens in Oxnard, Calif. … Rangers sign dry-docked veteran lefty Cliff Lee to prorated $4 million contract … iPhone 7 debuts with built-in selfie stick.

August

Preseason college football polls show Oklahoma No. 1, with Clemson at No. 2. Baylor 10th in poll, with TCU at No. 11 … Horned Frogs open fall practice with Kenny Hill as No. 1 quarterback … Summer Olympics begin in traffic-clogged Rio de Janeiro … Backup Zach Mettenberger quarterbacks Cowboys to preseason win over newly-relocated Los Angeles Chargers … Simone Biles of Spring wins women’s all-around gold medal at Rio Olympics … Competing in fourth Olympics, Michael Phelps swims to two more gold medals, giving him 20 (26 overall) for his unmatched career … USA finishes atop medal standings with 106 overall, 48 gold, ahead of China and Germany … Rangers promote Nomar Mazara from Triple A to replace injured Josh Hamilton … Cowboys coach Jason Garrett says he hopes injury-slowed QB Tony Romo can take “at least a few snaps” before regular-season opener. Romo currently practicing only on even-numbered Wednesdays and Fridays … 1310-The Ticket’s Norm Hitzges retires after 60 years in radio.

September

TCU football team defeats Arkansas in Fort Worth for first time in 35 years … Top-ranked Oklahoma opens season in banner fashion, knocking off Houston and Ohio State … Texas upsets Notre Dame in Austin opener, but Longhorns fall at Cal … Cowboys knock off Giants in opener, but Vikings defeat Owner Jones’ team in first regular-season game at Minnesota’s new U.S. Bank Stadium … In ceremony before adoring Yankees fans, Alex Rodriguez hits milestone 700th career homer, accidentally thanks cousin Yuri, his “Boley provider” … Novak Djokovic defeats Andy Murray for U.S. Open men’s crown, Serena Williams overpowers Simona Halep for women’s title … Cowboys end month with win at Cleveland … Choo, Beltre homer as Rangers clinch AL West for second year in a row.

October

Orioles defeat Angels and Cubs eliminate Dodgers in MLB wild-card games … Frogs yank Sooners back to earth with upset at Amon G. Carter Stadium … Oklahoma rebounds with wins over Texas and Kansas State … West Virginia surprises TCU in Morgantown … Baylor ends month 8-0 and ranked No. 5 in polls … Rangers advance to ALCS with series win over Toronto, but Royals claim AL pennant in seven games … Cubs defeat Cardinals for first World Series berth in 71 years … Healthy Tony Romo leads Cowboys to victories over Ravens and Eagles, but Romo is injured again on fickle turf at Washington and Dallas ends month with back-to-back defeats … ESPN announces plans to merge Longhorn Network with Comedy Central.

November

Holy cow! Cubs win! Cubs win! Chicago defeats Kansas City in World Series and parties like it’s 1908 … TCU defense stymies Baylor in second half, as Bears fall from unbeaten ranks … Oklahoma, playing at home, hands Baylor second defeat … Joey Logano takes checkered flag at NASCAR AAA Texas 500 at TMS … Frogs avenge 2015 loss to Oklahoma State, but fall to Texas on Thanksgiving night in Austin … TCU dedicates Gary Patterson statue. Patterson immediately declares statue off-limits to media … Cowboys regain Romo and first place in NFC East with Thanksgiving Day win over Washington … Victories over Bucs and Bears lift Dallas record to 7-4 … Dez Bryant, pet monkey up to 350,000 Twitter followers … Texas A&M, under first-year coach Herman, finishes 8-4, fourth in SEC West.

December

Amid snow flurries, Baylor loses at West Virginia … Oklahoma claims Big 12 title, defeating Oklahoma State in Norman … CFP playoff is set. Clemson and Ohio State will meet in Peach Bowl semifinal, with Oklahoma and Ole Miss facing off at Fiesta Bowl … TCU and LSU will meet in Sugar Bowl … Alabama and Florida State in Orange Bowl … Notre Dame and UCLA in Cotton Bowl … Stanford and Michigan in Rose Bowl.

Up and down month leaves Cowboys 9-6 with wins over Lions and 49ers, losses to Packers and Bengals. Playoff berth at stake in season finale at Philadelphia … Donald Trump announces joint Hair Club for Billionaires venture with Jerry Jones.

On New Year’s Eve, Oklahoma and Ohio State win and earn places in CFP Championship Game … Annual predictions column makes AARP bestseller list for fifth year in a row.

Happy 2017!

Gil LeBreton: 817-390-7697, glebreton@star-telegram.com, @gilebreton

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