2012: A Sportswriting Odyssey (not really)

Some years are better than others

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Here's what I'll remember about 2012:

Man, there were a lot of television commericals running down Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

And, I played golf in Cedar Rapids. On January 5. That's not going to happen on Jan. 5, 2013, barring a warm spell of epic proportions.

But as far as covering stuff, it was a lean year. Not barren, but lean. The highlights, though, were good ones.

1. Thanks to Zach Johnson being from Cedar Rapids, I covered two pretty great things in golf.

First, Johnson made one of the PGA Tour's shots of the year when, in a sudden-death playoff with Troy Matteson at the John Deere Classic, he hit a 6-iron from a fairway bunker 162 yards, leaving it within a foot of the cup. He made birdie and won his "hometown event," for his ninth Tour win.

Then, Johnson won three of his four matches at the Ryder Cup in suburban Chicago, including a singles triumph over Graeme McDowell on a Sunday in which most of the rest of the U.S. team dropped their matches and failed to wrest the Cup from the Europeans. The atmosphere at that event was as good as anything I've ever attended.

2. Iowa State got to the NCAA men's basketball tourney, and had some fun while it lasted.

First, the Cyclones dusted off defending national-champion Connecticut, 77-64. ISU ran up a 38-16 lead and brought home its first NCAA win in seven years.

Then, ISU battled eventual national-champ Kentucky straight-up for 25 minutes before class told, and the Wildcats raced away, 87-71.

Royce White of Iowa State was the best player in Louisville that week. I'm not saying he is as good as Antonio Davis, but no individual outplayed White. I wish him the best in somehow getting an NBA career started. It hasn't happened yet.

3. Matt Gatens.

The two-game show he put on at Carver-Hawkeye Arena over a 5-day span was other-worldly. The senior Iowa guard popped in 30 points on Feb. 19 in a 78-66 win over Indiana. Four days later, he had 33 points in the Hawkeyes' 67-66 victory over Wisconsin.

Gatens was 7-of-10 from 3-point distance in both games, and was 24-of-33 from that distance over a 4-game period. He made 12 in a row in one stretch. It was phenomenally phenomenal.

I covered the Super Bowl and the Masters, and they were really big deals, blah, blah, blah. The Super Bowl-winner was quarterbacked by Eli Manning and the Masters was won by Bubba Watson. Never in the history of the world had an Eli/Bubba combination done anything of note until 2012.

College football was nothing to write home about, though I did, anyway. I covered 12 games. The teams I covered from Iowa won just four of those, and it would have been three had Iowa State not played Iowa.

The most-impressive performances I saw were given by (in this order) Oklahoma at Iowa State, Penn State at Iowa, and Central Michigan at Iowa.

Central Michigan has its own bowl-game time slot tonight, in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, against Western Kentucky. They'll put anything on television, won't they?

But wait, this year's not over yet. Tomorrow (Thursday) Gazette photographer Cliff Jette and I drive to Memphis for next Monday's Liberty Bowl. It's only 570 miles from the Gazette office to our hotel in Memphis.

Why are we driving? Because hitchhiking isn't safe.

And now, Paul McCartney with Dave Grohl and the rest of the living members of Nirvana:


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