Sunday, October 22, 2000

Five Questions with Mike Gottfried

        Before Mike Gottfried became ESPN's No. 1 college football analyst, he was a pretty good football coach. Gottfried, in fact, is the last coach to leave the University of Cincinnati with a winning record. He went 12-10 in his two years at UC.

        But Gottfried's career didn't turn out as he expected. When he left here for the job in Kansas, he was one of the rising stars of coaching.

        He went from Kansas to Pittsburgh, another plum job. But after his four years and a 26-17-2 record — which included two wins each over Notre Dame and Penn State — Gottfried was fired.

        He was 44 years old with a 77-54-6 record. He figured he'd sit out a year and then get another coaching job.

        In the meantime, he would do a little announcing for ESPN. Ten years later, he's still calling games and loving it.

        Gottfried took a break from production meetings Thursday at ESPN to answer five questions from Enquirer reporter John Fay:

        1. What do you miss most about coaching?

The competition and camaraderie. Seeing the players get better. I always had great relationships with my players. I still do with some of them. I enjoyed coaching very much. It's all I ever wanted to do — from the fifth grade on. That's why I thought I'd get back into it.

        2. What do you miss least about coaching?

The time away from my family. I can spend so much more time with my wife and two girls. People ask me what my hobby is. I say spending time with my family. I have an offseason. When I was coaching, with recruiting, you're working 17-, 18-hour days year-round.

        3. Could you have continued to win at UC?

I think so, because I could recruit Ohio. We did well in Detroit and down South also. I liked UC. The year before I went to Kansas, Texas El-Paso came after me three times and I said no. The thing about it then was we weren't in a league. We were always fighting the NCAA about whether we were going to be Division I or I-AA. If we were in a league, I might have never left. We played Alabama, Miami (of Florida), Pittsburgh. I liked that. But without a league, it was tough — for Cincinnati, Louisville all those schools.

        4. If you were in charge of the NCAA, what's one thing you would change?

There's a lot I'd change. But I think there should be a commissioner of football, a commissioner of basketball. Right now, the conference commissioners run it. But I think there should be someone over them, who can cut through the red tape, who can make sure the Cincinnatis and Southern Methodists are getting a fair shake.

        5. Who's going to win the national title?

I picked Nebraska at the beginning, and I'm sticking with them. Florida State and Miami have the easiest road. But Nebraska is tough. They play that belly option style. When they're playing ahead, they're awfully tough. I like their quarterback, Eric Crouch.


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