In just over seven years in Putnam County -- first as the sports editor and later as an on-again-off-again sports writer -- I've been very careful not to play favorites.
Certainly you have coaches and players who, for a variety of reasons, bring smiles to your faces and for whom success brings you a little extra satisfaction. That's just being human. We all relate well to certain people.
I've taken pride in treating all schools and programs fairly, to the point of even trying to avoid wearing the color of one of the teams to an intra-county matchup.
But if I cover any South Putnam boys' basketball next year, those standards may be tested.
For when the South Putnam School Board recently confirmed Greg Dean as the Eagles' new coach recently, they bought in not only a native son and a talented coach, they hired probably the best friend I made in my college years.
It all goes back to History 1 with Dr. Stephen Morillo in our first semester at Wabash College. That was nearly 15(!) years ago, but a lot of memories from that class come back to me clearly.
There was a pain-in-the-rear suck-up named Phil for whom we shared the same disdain. There was the Morillo Triangle. There was the guest speaker from an Ivy League school with a prosthetic hand. I'm ashamed to say I can't remember a thing he said, but I remember the hand.
Through four years, Greg and I shared a lot of memories -- more than I can share here and many that I shouldn't share here.
I've tried to follow his coaching career, but that's become harder over the years. I thought the dream scenario was when he coached at my alma mater Seeger several years ago.
While I did catch a number of those games, it seemed more like we were ships in the night. When holidays came, Nicole and I would head from Putnam County back to Warren County to be with family. At the same time, Greg would head from Warren County back to Putnam County to be with his family.
More than once, we met on U.S. 231 somewhere in Montgomery County, just waving as we passed.
And I hate to say that I didn't see a single game he coached in his years at West Washington.
I think this should be different. Greg is back home, where he wants to be. I'm in my adopted home, where I want to be. I'll be glad to share some common geography for the first time in a decade.
And come Friday nights next winter, I hope to have a few free evenings to cheer for the Eagles.