Syracuse University. What can I say? The place changed my life. I couldn't be more thankful for being given the opportunity to attend. With everything that place has given me, one of the best parts has been getting to meet some incredible people.
ESPN's Mike Tirico is one of those people. The guy has reached the pinnacle of the sports broadcasting world and he is someone that can serve as the perfect example for the type of drive, focus and preparation you need to have to succeed in any career. I hope that my interview with him below gives you some insight into how you can better yourself as you strive to reach your goals...and gives you a different take on some of the biggest stories in sports.
Brandon Steiner: How did Syracuse University prepare you for your broadcasting career?
Mike Tirico: The Newhouse School of Public Communications is widely recognized as the top media school in the country and has prepared so many of us over the years. The faculty, curriculum and alumni have given all of us a tremendous foundation to build upon. For me and many others the opportunity to broadcast SU games at WAER radio was the best preparation for what I am still doing today.
BS: Golf, tennis, football, NBA basketball, college basketball, college football, the NFL, the World Cup- you’ve done it all. What’s been your favorite sport to broadcast through the years?
MT: It has become like your children, you love them all the same yet in different ways. I truly enjoy the variety of calling different sports and traveling the country, in some cases the world, to see the best of the best. If I had to choose one above all it would have to be Monday Night Football. No show has had a longer run in American sports television than MNF. To be a part of the 45 year legacy of Monday Night is something I will cherish forever.
BS: You’ve succeeded in one of the most highly competitive professional fields there is. I’m sure that has taken a tremendous amount of focus and determination. What’s your best piece of advice for a college student or recent grad looking for guidance in their career?
MT: Preparation. Are you the best prepared to do the job? Are you willing to outwork the person who is just as qualified to have the job? Can you bring some new approaches to the way things have always been done? Are you willing to be a great teammate? I think if you can say yes to all of those questions you have a great template to take the next step.
BS: Your most memorable moment with your MNF broadcast partner, John Gruden?
MT: Well Jon is one of the special people I have come across. No one approaches the job with his passion, work ethic and knowledge. I would say I will always remember the Fail Mary game in Seattle, when the Seahawks beat the Packers (with the help of replacement officials). Jon was so disgusted after the game, not because Seattle won or Green Bay lost, but how the game was being cheated because of incompetent officiating. Once a coach always a coach!
BS: What’s your take on all the happenings in the NFL this year?
MT: It was a terrible public relations year for the league. The commissioner and league policy came under deserved and intense scrutiny. I think the Players Association also needed to be under a similarly strong microscope. If going forward the league and society are better places because of this year’s high profile issues than we will truly see the reach the sport has on America.
BS: Favorite story you’ve ever covered?
MT: Besides anything related to my alma mater Syracuse, it would be the return of the New Orleans Saints to the Superdome in 2006. Post-Katrina there was great uncertainty about the city’s future. The Monday Night Football game in September of that year showed the world that New Orleans was again open for business.
BS: If there was one thing you would consider “broken” in sports today, what would it be?
MT: I think the current model of intercollegiate sports is broken. There is so much money currently involved that it has become difficult to reconcile the mission of universities with the high stakes of NCAA football and basketball. Impactful leadership is desperately needed to help keep college sports from major problems in the future.
BS: Stuart Scott passed away last month. As you reflect on your time with him at ESPN, what did you learn from his perspective on life?
MT: Stuart showed us extraordinary strength and spirit with incredible grace during his cancer fight. From the time I met him he had a passionate approach and a unique ability. The reaction to his passing from around the sports world, showed us all how impactful he truly was. We will truly never replace him.
BS: Thank you, Mike.