Two solid sources had confirmed the story. But that wasn’t enough for news of this magnitude. Jeff Goodman needed at least one more solid source before he broke the biggest story college basketball had ever seen.
He received the first tip on the same day Brad Stevens announced he was moving from the bench to the GM box with the Celtics. Living in Boston, Goodman was getting all kinds of requests for his analysis on the news that had just rocked the NBA. Just when the news was starting to hit its peak, that’s when it happened. Jeff Goodman was told Mike Mike Krzyzewski was going to announce his retirement from Duke in the very near future.
Around 30 minutes later, he got another tip from a source that confirmed Coach K’s impending retirement announcement. He had two strong sources. Most times, that would be good enough to run a story, but not in this situation.
“I was 99.9 percent sure,” said Goodman. “But even 99.9 percent is hard to go with on a story like this. If you’re wrong on that story, you’re forever known, everything you’ve done up to that point is irrelevant.”
So he waited for another source to confirm, knowing too much was on the line to be wrong. After calling a third source, the person gave him the time and the date. That’s when he finally felt confident to run with it.
“I typed up the tweet and my finger was literally shaking,” Jeff Goodman said.
He hit send. The biggest story in college hoops had been broken.
“It’s crazy when you say it like that, because you don’t think about it that way. There’s so many other stories that I’ve spent so much more time on than that one.”
Goodman covers basketball at every level, but he’s easily one of the best in the business when it comes to college hoops. If that’s not proven by his current work at Stadium or his previous stops at ESPN, Fox and CBS, he’s proving it with a new podcast venture that’s quickly taking the college basketball world by storm.
The Field of 68 Media Network was founded almost totally by accident. Goodman’s friend, Rob Dauster, had been a Covid casualty and saw his position cut last year. Goodman didn’t want to just help Dasuter, he wanted to find something new and innovative they could do together.
“At that point it was, ok, what can we do?” Goodman said. “We were in the middle of a pandemic and we thought of this on a whim. We threw out the idea of starting a podcast network and really centering it around former players hosting podcasts of their alum school.”
There were challenges behind this new venture, most notably the task of trying to find the right former players that would be a good fit. Luckily, with Goodman’s background covering recruiting, he had a strong connection with several former high-profile college basketball players. Those players also trusted him.
“We wanted to find the right people that either, one, wanted to do it because they want to do a pod for their school, or, two, and I sold them on this, we’ll help you get a platform and your name out there, so people will see you and it will turn into something,” Goodman said.
The pitch was perfect. Soon after, former players were all over the Field of 68 hosting podcasts for their respective alma maters. Hosts such as Patrick Young with Florida, Dan Dickau of Gonzaga and Eric Devendorf of Syracuse, just to name a few, we’re headline shows across the network.
The idea behind Field of 68 is heavily built on the opinions of former players. Much bigger plans are in the works though for the coming season. It’s those ideas that could vault the network into the go-to hub for college basketball fans in the future.
“I absolutely think it can be the place to go,” Goodman said. “As we’re seeing, people are consuming their information through streaming. Fewer people are watching ESPN on their TV’s. We have a plan in place for this year and we’re going to add something big. Every night. That’s Rob’s brainchild and I think it could change the way people get their college basketball information this year.”
“Frankly, if you’re a big college basketball fan, other than the games, those halftime and postgame segments on ESPN, there’s nothing to them. What do they do? They look at the highlights, talk for 20 seconds but it’s never about the big topics. They don’t have time. We’re going to do something way different.”
Jeff Goodman is involved with podcasting on Field of 68, as he hosts the national show with Robbie Hummel. But he’s the first to admit his role is to come up with content. Everything else centers on the brains of the operation, which always falls to Dauster.
“Rob has been the driver of this thing, not me,” Goodman said. “I’ve helped put it together, but he’s so talented. I know the content, but he knows everything. The fact someone hasn’t hired him and paid him a bunch of money is crazy to me. He’s done all that with two young kids.”
Other hosts under the Field of 68 umbrella include Wayne Turner with Kentucky, Jeff Hawkins with Kansas, Shammond Williams of North Carolina and Christy Winters-Scott who hosts podcasts on women’s hoops. Many more are with the network and others are still to come.
That includes producers the network has incorporated that are either still in college or just freshly out.
“We’re paying them a little bit of money,” Goodman said. “But a lot of it is about giving them experience and the opportunity to be involved. A lot of them are producers, they’re producing the podcast but we allow them to also be on the show. Austin Render is a terrific example. He just graduated from Indiana and he’s terrific. Like, phenomenal. He produces A.J Guyton’s podcast and he also goes on and throws questions at him about Indiana basketball.”
Regardless if Field of 68 works out (my bet is that it does) Goodman is going to be fine. He’s a great basketball mind with an incredible writing talent. But he’s going to do everything in his power to ensure the network becomes a success. Maybe it will never be his main gig, but that won’t stop him from trying to make this the main stop for college hoops fans.
It all started because he wanted to have a friend’s back. That loyalty may get repaid in a big way. But if you ask Jeff Goodman, he’s only doing the things that others did for him when he was making his move in the business.
“I had people like Greg Doyle, who was a big help for me when I broke through. I’ll never forget that. Ever. You just remember the people that helped you and the people that didn’t.”
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.