Sports

Catching up on a passing sports season

Ogden column: What are your favorite stories of 2018?

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz touches the helmet on the Nile Kinnick statue as he arrives with his team before a game in September. Ferentz became Iowa’s all-time winningest coach this season. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz touches the helmet on the Nile Kinnick statue as he arrives with his team before a game in September. Ferentz became Iowa’s all-time winningest coach this season. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

It’s been a while since I’ve filled this space with my random thoughts on a variety of subjects.

The fall belongs to football and to our great storytellers, guys like Mike Hlas and Marc Morehouse, Jeff Linder, K.J. Pilcher and Jeff Johnson.

But it’s good to be back holding down this spot for a bit.

So, let’s kick this off, again, with some ... random thoughts.

l Before the fall disappears into winter — yes, it technically still is fall until Dec. 21 — what a year for the state’s three Division I scholarship football programs.

I note “scholarship” because Drake showed in the season finale in Ames it, too, had something to brag about.

Iowa and Iowa State, of course, are going bowling — the Hawkeyes returning to Florida to face Mississippi State in the Outback Bowl and the Cyclones are headed to San Antonio, Texas, to battle former Cedar Rapids Washington prep Dallas Hobbs and Washington State in the Alamo Bowl.

Both finished the regular season 8-4 and, despite what some Hawkeye fans may feel, that’s pretty impressive.

There were, of course, chances to pick up another win, or two, along the way, but the fact is 8-4 is not bad.

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One of my favorite comments in our weekly “chatter box” in Sunday’s paper was from Dan Welter: “It’s nice to feel disappointed in an 8-4 season with a January bowl against a top 20 team.”

It’s like Cub fans complaining they “only” made the playoffs this year.

There was a time when making the playoffs or earning any bowl berth was considered a dream season.

UNI didn’t meet it’s lofty standards as far as its record is concerned, but the Panther did make the FCS playoff field again and won a first-round game.

In August, as many do, I predicted this for Iowa, Iowa State and UNI:

“Penciling wins and losses on these schedules in August is difficult task, but I see Iowa finishing 8-4 (10-2 is not out of the question), Iowa State at 7-5 (although I’m wavering at 8-4) and UNI at 8-4.”

Not perfect, but not bad — just like the three teams themselves.

lll

l This is the time of year when newspaper editors across the globe start reflecting on the year about to end.

Within the next few weeks, there will be lots of stories looking back over 2018 — the favorites, the most important, the most fun, the most sad.

Some of our favorites, I’m sure, will include Kirk Ferentz becoming the winningest coach in Iowa football history and the Iowa State football team earning its second straight bowl invitation and just missing a berth in the Big 12 championship game.

What about Cedar Rapids Xavier capturing its second straight Class 3A football title with another undefeated season?

And that’s just the fall.

What are your favorite stories of 2018? What story impacted you the most?

I’d love to hear from you. Email me at the address below.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.