The circus will miss Matt Coss

Matt Coss

Whenever someone left for greener pastures during my time at the Muscatine Journal, some of the troops would say something like: This circus is bigger than one monkey.

In theory, it’s true. I know firsthand. The paper has come out every day since my job as editor was eliminated on Feb. 27, and I was escorted out of the building. I guess I am one clown who hasn’t been missed by the circus.

But some monkeys leave bigger holes than others. And Matt Coss, sports editor at the Journal since July 2009, will leave a gaping hole when he moves on June 15 for a sports-writing job at the Quad-City Times in Davenport. His first day at the Times will be on June 18.

I was the editor who was lucky enough to hire Coss when he and his wife, Melissa, decided they wanted to return to Muscatine — their hometown. He had worked at newspapers in Waterloo, Mason City and Creston.  Hiring him was a real coup.

During his time at the Journal, its sports section won multiple national awards and many state and local awards. Coss is the best sports editor I ever hired, one of the best employees I ever hired for any job and one of the most-talented people I worked with during 23 years in newsrooms. He is a prolific and skilled writer.  He designs strong pages. And he is very organized. It’s rare to find someone with his talent who also works as hard as Coss does.

The Times will be very lucky to have him.

The Journal? Well, there is no one there who is up to succeeding Coss, but it will continue to publish a sports section after he leaves even though editors of his caliber aren’t easy to find. His shoes will be hard to fill.

His successor — and the person who will have to make that hiring decision — will both have big jobs ahead of them. I wish them both good luck. I wished the same to Matt, but he doesn’t need it.

Ouch: Monday night I posted an item in which I bragged about the evening ahead because of a planned weekly bike ride with friends.

I’ll never make such boasts again. After thinking about it, there are at least two ways to view the little crash that skinned my left knee and prematurely ended the ride for me:

1. I’ll go to almost any length to get out of climbing Funk’s Hill.

2. The mishap was karma getting back at me for publishing a photo of my friends, the Cycling Cysters. It was a photo that my friend, Chuck Vesey, said managed to make every woman in it look bad.

Maybe I’m lucky to have escaped with just a skinned knee.

What’s for dinner, Grandpa (a “Hee Haw” reference for those who don’t know): After a hard day of weekly newspapering, I came home and made Italian peasant food for dinner. On the menu: Polenta with a sauce made of tomatoes, peas, beans, onions and garlic.

It’s doubtful that Grandpa Jones ever even heard of polenta. But it was a tasty dinner.