Some personal news ...
Good days have far outweighed the bad days since I moved to Madison in October 2011 to become the University of Wisconsin beat writer for Fox Sports Wisconsin. Friday, however, was a bad day. The worst I've ever experienced in this profession.
On Friday, I learned Fox Sports had decided to eliminate its regional writers from all of its websites across the country because of budget cuts. My last day, like many others, will be June 30. The websites will still be used to post video content and AP stories, though I'm uncertain what, if anything, will be done about covering the teams you root for and read about on Fox Sports Wisconsin -- Badgers, Packers, Bucks, Brewers, Golden Eagles. Cutbacks, unfortunately, are a fact of life in this business. And though I am still feeling the sting of it all, I figured I would use this space to reflect on my experiences here.
Over the past four seasons, I have had an opportunity to cover some of the most significant football and men's basketball games in Badgers history: two Rose Bowl games against Oregon and Stanford, three Big Ten football championship games and two Final Fours, including a national championship appearance. In April, we all witnessed the end to the single greatest college basketball team Madison has ever seen, a group that played with such joy, passion and excellence that it made you step back to realize how special it was to be along for the ride. It was a team and a season I won't soon forget. And now that I know it will be my last as a Badgers beat writer, I'm even more grateful to have had the chance to witness it all up close.
During my time here, I have published 1,750 stories and tried to do the absolute best job I could. I always wanted to capture who Wisconsin's athletes were as people, beyond the position they played. I traveled to Jared Abbrederis' hometown of Wautoma to glean a better understanding of what his football accomplishments meant to the town, talked to Joel Stave's childhood piano teacher for a story on Joel's upbringing, talked to Marcus and Michael Trotter about how they coped with the suicide of their older brother, listened as Traevon Jackson explained how faith in God changed his life and found out the ways in which Bronson Koenig learned to embrace his Native American heritage. Sharing those stories with you has been a thrill.
Before I accepted a position with Fox, I was covering high school sports at a newspaper in Muncie, Indiana, and wondering where my career would lead me next. When that path led to Madison, it was exciting and scary all at the same time. I had always wanted to cover a Division I program, and to have the chance to do it at a school with such consistently good football and men's basketball teams certainly was a stroke of good fortune. I was given the freedom and time at FS Wisconsin to pursue the stories I felt were important and to write them until they were complete. It was a luxury I never took for granted, and I thank FSW for the opportunity. To watch the site grow from a new and unknown venture into what you see today has been a great source of pride.
Yes, the future is scary. I have no idea what comes next. My wife and I moved into our first home here only three months ago. I have enjoyed every bit about Madison -- the people, the culture, the sports, the food, the beer, the lakes, the terrace -- and I hope we can find a way to stay here. Right now, however, it is difficult to say.
Everyone, particularly the Badgers fans who have been such passionate readers, it has been a pleasure being your beat writer these past four seasons. Thank you for reading. Until we connect again.