What I’ve Learned So Far in St. Louis by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

For seven weeks, I’ve been a St. Louisan as the program director of 101 ESPN – one of the best sportstalk radio stations in America.  This is the first move my family has made in 18 years, and the first time as bona fide adults.  There is a lot to know, and I’m picking up as much as I can as quickly as I can, and it’s a challenge.

Here is a list – a bit of a primer – of the lessons for those considering a similar change in course:

Selling a house is not cheap, and it’s not easy – All those accommodations home owners make to the age of their home are exposed and corrections must be made.  We replaced or updated a long list of items that had been petty annoyances for years.  There is a feeling for us that we want those who trust us enough to buy our home to be very happy with their choice.  We owe it to the buyer to make sure everything is right, so we replaced faucets, carpeting, and shower doors.  Julie and Ryan worked their asses off to make the backyard the wonderful getaway that we always wanted it to be.  I wish we had done it years ago, so we could have enjoyed it more.

The best part of the house not selling in the first two weeks it has been listed is that we have absolutely no idea where we want to live in St. Louis.  City?  Country?  Near work?  Near golf?  In the woods?  In a town?  Julie, Ryan, and I have no idea where to land.

Driving 280 miles each way every weekend isn’t that tough – The drive between Indianapolis and St. Louis isn’t a bother at all.  I enjoy a little solitude now and then, and the almost four-hour drive is a simple and mindless jaunt without a metropolitan area in between.  101 ESPN has a huge signal – I can hear it almost all the way to Terre Haute – so listening uninterrupted is easy and because the product is high quality, very enjoyable.

With family in Indy, working is all there is to do in St. Louis – People always say that there is no such thing as work if you love what you do, and that’s true.  Maybe that’s why I don’t mind being in the office from before eight to after seven most days.  It also helps that my option is another night alone in my hotel room at the Doubletree.  Nothing against the Doubletree, but all things being equal, I’d rather be in the office.  When Julie and/or Ryan move out here, that will change a little bit as the discipline to devote time for family is every bit as important as the discipline of working hard.  I learned that while working in Indianapolis – accepting more and more responsibility as a manager’s faith.

Meeting new people can be joyful – I’ve never been a gregarious guy with new people.  It has always taken me a significant period of time to feel comfortable with strangers, but that seemed more a choice than a psychological disorder, so I told myself to ignore the impulse to dip my toe in the water before easing into the social pool.  I jumped in, and continue to get lunch with people as though they will be future friends rather than longtime strangers.  Let’s face it, I’m not George Clooney or Sam Bradford, so people aren’t going to tolerate my social reticence because in the end it will be worth it.  Fortunately, St. Louisans are a welcoming bunch, so I’m having a great time introducing myself to people I haven’t met.

St. Louis is a cool city (not in climate) – The people in St. Louis tend to stay in St. Louis, so there aren’t a huge number of ambassadors running around the midwest extolling the many virtues of the ‘Gateway to the West’.  That might be how St. Louisans like it.  The city is like some secret along the Mississippi that some very lucky outsiders occasionally wander into.  Getting around town is a challenge, but well worth it.  It ever a midwestern city was built for GPS, it’s St. Louis, but the rewards of a meal on ‘The Hill’, a trip to Rams Park for practice, or a game at Busch Stadium has all been more than worth it.  There are an endless series of suburban towns – some of which are forest filled and rural, while others are very typical.  The people, as I mentioned earlier, are very friendly.  People told me when we decided to move to St. Louis that its people are “very provincial”.  If they meant people are proud of their hometown, they were right.  But I got the impression that they meant the people were cold to outsiders.  I have found that purely false.

In a related thought, heat is relative.  It’s been really hot and humid since I got to St. Louis, but it no longer bothers me at all.  It’s not a dry heat, but it’s a heat that is easy to ignore.

St. Louis is a great golf town – I like golf.  Rather than a good walk spoiled, I see golf as a great hike enhanced.  St. Louis has beautiful and affordable courses.  The grasses are very hearty, so the divots are small.  My shoulders and elbows throb a bit after a round in Indy.  The turf is so loose that I can get a little deep with divots, and the shock of the impact causes some aches and pains.  In St. Louis, no such worries.

Baseball is good for sportstalk – During summers in Indianapolis, the only major league – and I realize I’m stretching the definition of the term ‘major league’ – is the WNBA.  That’s right, from the end of the Pacers season through the opening of Colts camp, the Indiana Fever are the only game in town.  St. Louis, with the Cardinals, Rams, and Blues, is a 365 day sports town.  People love all three teams, and all are committed to bringing in high character guys.  I love it.

The Cards are great – I know that as a lifelong Cubs fan, I’m supposed to somehow hate the Cardinals, but they play the game the right way.  Despite the Cubs current run of seven straight wins, they continue to run the bases like tools, miss cutoff men, and swing at pitches outside the strike zone.  Rooting for the Cubs, where no culture of winning exists, is a brutal exercise in futility.  The only culture is of unearned exorbitance.  The Cards are completely unlike the Cubs.  They play baseball the right way.  I have long thought that Albert Pujols is the best hitter I have ever seen, but watching him night after night it’s clear that his excellence extends beyond what he does with the bat.  While not fast, he might be the smartest baserunner I’ve seen since Roberto Clemente.  He wins games by taking the extra base, and that surprised me.  Maybe he is just on a great run of luck not getting thrown out, but over the last seven weeks, I’ve been stunned by his smart aggression.

All NFL teams are not run like the Colts – There is no denying the consistent excellence of the Colts over the last decade, but there is also no denying that their treatment of the media is more than a little off-putting and unnecessarily paranoid.  The Rams are the opposite.  I stood next to Rams GM Kevin Demoff for a half-hour the other night talking about all kinds of things, and it struck me more than once that doing the same with a member of the Colts front office would be almost unthinkable.  At one point with Kevin, I excused myself because practice was ongoing.  He said, “No, no, stick around.”  I have great respect for Bill and Chris Polian (and like both), but it’s nice to know there is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to dealing with the media.

It’s hard to argue with the success the Colts have achieved, but I believe the same results (or better) might be gained by relaxing a little bit and enjoying the company of people who want nothing more than to help build the popularity of the franchise.

Working and writing are not compatible – I would love to write more often, but it’s impossible.  To those of you who enjoy this website, I apologize for not being more active here, but as I get more and more settled, hopefully I can find the time and energy to write things worth reading.



Bob Knight Gives Speech in Indy on Same Night as Tom Crean’s in Bloomington by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

Former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight gave a speech benefitting a charity last night in Indianapolis.  Tom Crean addressed Hoosier fans at the IU Auditorium last night.  Coincidence?

My guess is that it is.  As arrogant and bitter as Knight can be, I doubt he asked the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Indiana to make sure the event featuring his presence was held on the same night Crean spoke.

It’s unlikely that Crean decided it would help his attendance and hurt Knight’s if both presentations were held simultaneously.

The media coverage for the events gave a clear edge to the old man, who hasn’t deposited a check as an employee of Indiana University in over a decade.  TV news stations covered Knight in their newscasts last night and this morning.  The Indianapolis Star put Knight on the front page, and the top item on the online sports page.  Crean?  I’m still looking in the Star for any mention.  Would it have killed the Star’s IU beat writer Terry Hutchens to attend the Crean speech and get quotes from fans afterward if nothing else?

The reason for the edge to Knight is obvious.  Of the two, who is likely to say something newsworthy?  I’ve neverread an inflammatory quote from Crean.  I’ve never heard Knight speak when he didn’t say something brutally honest, angry, intolerant, and/or crazy.  He’s also incredibly entertaining.  Crean?  He has the discretion Knight continues to lack.

At the Knight events I attended as a student, there was always an air of drama.  No one knew who he would bludgeon, or what hopeless dumbass would ask him the wrong question and prompt the typical hilarious scorn of the beast.  Poking the bear in the red sweater was always a losing play.

I can’t imagine Crean attacking anyone.

Crean’s speech featured a lot of rah-rah stuff about how the Hoosiers are improving, and will be tougher.  Knight blasted the NCAA and Notre Dame.

Going to a Crean speech is like attending a Journey concert.  He is going to play the hits in a very predictable way.  Knight is like Judy Garland back in the 1960s.  Is going to show up at all, and if so will she be trashed?  If present and sober, she might be magical.  Knight is as thoroughly unpredictable as any performer since Garland.  People might not know who he’s going to blast, but it’s likely to be some agency or person who bloviates with regard only to hear himself speak.

Last night, Knight busted the NCAA and Notre Dame, according to Jeff Rabjohn’s account in the Star.  Knight chided the NCAA for allowing one-and-done kids to pass six hours in the first semester and never attend a class in the second semester, yet play a full season and win a national championship.  The NCAA tries to penalize schools who might engage in that kind of work without reward scenario for kids with the Academic Progress Rate scores and penalties attached for poor performance, but as long as the APR penalties attach to the schools and not the coach, what the hell does he care?

The Notre Dame shots were earned by not joining the Big Ten, which Knight strongly advocates.  He said there are some dumb “Catholic boys up there”, who don’t understand how their recruiting would change if they affiliated.

Crean spoke about the Hoosiers being more fit and tougher.

That Knight wins that battle for the media spotlight isn’t hard to understand.  Crean joins a list of speakers a mile long who don’t rival Knight for creating drama and tension.  The list of men more interesting and entertaining for sports fans to listen to for 90 minutes is very short.



NCAA Investigator in Tennessee Deserves Bonus by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

The NCAA D-1 Committee on Infractions released findings of major violations against Chattanooga for impermissible texts and phone calls to recruits.  On one hand, who really cares what Chattanooga does?  They’re not exactly tearing up the college athletic world.  On the other, this is the second piece of big news from the NCAA in a week originating from eastern Tennessee.

Knoxville and Chattanooga are separated by 112 of I-75 interstate highway, and if the NCAA investigators work regions, the guy traveling that part of the country is earning his money and then some.

Tennessee is in deep trouble for all kinds of impermissible, but in particular for photographs showing two big time recruits being photographed at Bruce Pearl’s home during unofficial visits – a big violation because there is no wiggle room for Pearl to claim ignorance or scatterbrainedness.  There is no doubt that every coach knows what is supposed to happen during unofficial visits, and Pearl willfully violated them by inviting kids to his house.

Chattanooga is different as they have been trying to get their compliance department up and running effectively for four years, and they self-reported for too many calls and texts.

I’m not sure whether NCAA investigators roll on to college campuses dressed like the Hoover Boys in the south as racial motivated murders were investigated in the early 1960s – like Gene Hackman and Willem Defoe in “Mississippi Burning”, but with Mark Emmert taking the reins of the NCAA as the replacement for Myles Brand, I would be on the lookout for a bulked up and aggressive investigative staff on college campuses.

At worst, the NCAA is going to make a very public example of someone.  The best we can hope for is an NCAA that dig deep and at least puts a scare into the renegade schools that ignore rules in an effort to feather their own nest.

The person doing the work on I-75 between Knoxville and Chattanooga is kicking ass and taking names.  Corruption in college athletics has been around as long as college athletic themselves, but maybe the tide is turning.



Indiana Basketball Recruit Austin Etherington on Why He Chose Indiana by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

It doesn’t take long after meeting Hamilton Heights senior Austin Etherington to figure out this 6’6″ kid from Cicero, Indiana, is honest and smart.  It takes about as long watching him play basketball to see that he is very competitive and loves the game.

There is something very likable about this kid from the small town part of Hamilton County.  Austin tells the truth, looks a man in the eye when he speaks, and is pretty damn smart.

After I stopped videotaping our talk, I lectured him on using the media to build his brand.  So many athletes have no idea what an opportunity there is for them to craft an image in the minds of the public – many of whom are hiring managers.  I told him, “Every microphone and camera is a portal to thousands of ears, and to sit in a corner avoiding that opportunity is wasteful and lazy.”  He looked at me through the entire speech, and in the end I thought, you just wasted five minutes telling that kid something he already knew.

Not that he tried to spin things to make himself look like a saint, genius, or role model.  He just answered questions and revealed part of who he is, which is exactly the right way to build an image.  It must reflect reality, or the image seems forced and phony.  Etherington is not phony.  He knows it, and was polite enough to listen to stuff he already knows.

Indiana basketball fans are going to love this kid.  He loves challenges, knows and attacks adversity, and believes brotherhood is important in building a team.  Tom Crean has been criticized a little bit for offering Etherington as early as he did, which is nonsense.  After watching him play several times and talking to him, I think anyone who didn’t offer is crazy.  He’s 6’6″, can jump, defends hard enough to frustrate Rivals #2 ranked player L’Bryan Nash into punching him in the back of the head during a tournament last summer, and can flat shoot it.  And more than just being the sum of his parts, he’s a basketball player.

There are a lot of kids who play basketball, but not that many basketball players.  I’m not sure this makes any sense to anyone but me, but Etherington moves and plays inside the game.

This is a kid who’s home burned to the ground a year ago, is proud to be an example to younger teammates and his two younger brothers, and has a burning desire for Hamilton Heights to win their first sectional in nearly a decade.

Here’s what Etherington has to say about choosing Indiana:

Here’s a video with some highlights from Etherington and his team at the Adidas tournament played at North Central High School in July, 2010:



Carmel Assault Update – Keep Kids Safe Only Agenda Here by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

So the Carmel Schools administrators are unhappy and believe my motivation in writing about the ongoing bullying issues in schools and on buses is jealousy and bitterness toward the city of Carmel.  They call me “slime” for writing about how special needs kids among others are being tormented by bullies as Carmel Clay Schools reshape and expand upon a bullying policy in a handbook.  They seem to genuinely believe that will make a difference.

The frustration is understandable, but their decision to project that angst toward the messenger brings them no closer to a solution than the words in a policy manual that exists only as a prop to wave as administrators placate easily convinced parents that something is being done.

No doubt the issues plaguing Carmel Clay Schools regarding bullying are not unique to their experience.  There are kids misbehaving elsewhere.  Because of the ongoing basketball bullying cases against four former players who tortured a younger player, and the posts I’ve written as a result, parents and school officials in Carmel seek me out to share information about kids being bullied without any action being taken even after those incidents being reported.

Parents of former Carmel students have also stepped forward to share examples of the same behavior throughout the last 15 years.

Rather than being critical of someone who is writing about a problem that certainly exists, it would be more productive to look closely at their own actions, and try to improve the failed solutions they have enacted.

Parents are right to demand a safe environment for their children, as well as a method of speedy redress when that is not provided.  If administrators don’t want a dozen parents and several educators seeking a portal where their grievances can be heard, they should do a better job of acting upon what they hear.

Kids who bully, assault, harass, and threaten need to be shown serious consequences not only to instruct them, but discourage others from engaging in that behavior.  “Kids will be kids”, is the worst brand of inactive pablum imaginable, but would actually be an improvement compared to the proud idiocy released in statements from the superintendent’s office.

If the Carmel Clay Schools administration feels unfairly singled out, do something positive about it.  Bury this ill-founded pride, and start looking in the mirror.  Lead the area in educating kids.  Teach them to look at others as human beings.  Finding methods to introduce empathy into their lives would be a great step in the right direction.

The source of my relentless discontent came from a conversation I had with a Carmel basketball player who said the four kids didn’t even realize what they were doing was wrong because it was part of the culture of Carmel High School throughout their experience.  The players accused of battery and criminal recklessness were stunned that they would be punished for what they did.  That’s a cultural problem, not simply a kid issue.

The culture needs to change, and the pain of change must be outweighed by the pain of maintaining the status quo.  If somehow, what has been written here has ratcheted up the level of pain, good.

The camera of the community is on Carmel.  The administrators can resent it or embrace the challenge.  Just don’t whine about it.



Kravitz & Eddie Talk Notre Dame Football and Whether Brian Kelly Is the Right Guy by kentsterling
September 23, 2010, 9:00 am
Filed under: College Football, Kent Sterling, Media | Tags: , ,

by Kent Sterling

Kravitz & Eddie at this time is not available as a daily product for sports fans, but I still like listening, so I got them together to talk sports and talk about a variety of things – in this case Fighting Irish football.

Eddie is an unabashed fan of ND, having worked there for a few years in media relations.  Kravitz is an impartial and canny observer of sports as a columnist for the Indianapolis Star.  Together on 1070 – The Fan for more than two years, they became the best liked and disliked sportstalk show in Indianapolis.

Polarity is a good thing in media.  Being disliked is meaningless as long as enough people like the host(s).  Hate from listeners, viewers, and readers is not the enemy of the media.  Indifference is.  Love them or hate them, few were indifferent about Kravitz & Eddie.

Six months after their last show during their initial run ended, Kravitz & Eddie are still generating a tremendous amount of passion among sports fans.  The question I’m first asked when people find out that I used to run the programming on 1070 The Fan is why Kravitz & Eddie are no longer on.

Here is their take on Notre Dame.  It begins with me asking Eddie why he’s so quiet.  Usually, Eddie has plenty to say.  During the previous answers to my questions, Eddie was downright deferential to Kravitz.  That happens about as often as a total solar eclipse.

With the Irish at 1-2, the optimism of Irish fans and the believe in Kelly is fascinating.  Having tolerated two decades of mediocre reigns from Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham, and Charlie Weis, maybe Irish fans are just tired of negativity.  Maybe they are overwhelmed by Kelly’s behavior, which is a stark and welcome contrast from what Weis displayed during his run.  Arrogance accompanied by failure gives birth to discontent followed quickly by rage, and that so when Kelly replaced Weis, there was a wide collective smile across St. Joe County.

To this point – three whole games into his run as the Notre Dame football coach – Kelly has been even-handed, pleasant, accommodating, and organized.  He’s going to get a pass based upon his personality for this season.  At some point soon, they need to pile up wins and return to a BCS bowl.



Interview With the Ohio Mascot Who Tackled Brutus by kentsterling

by Kent Sterling

That video makes me laugh hard every time I watch it.

He’s been all over ESPN for a couple of days now as the Ohio mascot “Rufus” who made a mad dash from the sidelines and tackled the Ohio State mascot.  Now, the kid in the Rufus suit, Brandon Hanning, talks to us about his decision to do something both brave and pointless in a measure worthy of a Delta House pledge in “Animal House”.

Kent: How much work is involved in being the Ohio University mascot?
Brandon: It wasn’t much, I just had to occasionally go to games through out the year.
Kent:  Were you fired?

Brandon:  I was going to quit after the Ohio state game, but if wasn’t going to, then yes I would be fired.

Kent: If you were fired, did they tell you specifically why?

Brandon:  They did call and tell me that they didn’t appreciate me not informing them that I was no longer a student, and to never come to another athletic event. Never told specifically why

Kent:  Was there any hesitation as you started your sprint toward Brutus?
Brandon:  No. I knew I’d be mad at myself if I didn’t do it, and there was no stopping half way into it.
Kent:  Did you ever pause and think, this might not be my best idea (why or why not)?
Brandon:  No. I had done this before in buffalo, and had not received any warnings then. I figured case scenario would be being arrested for assault, which o thought was highly unlikely to happen.
Kent:  What turned you so far against Brutus that you would dedicate so much time and effort to your one shining moment in the middle of the Horseshoe?
Brandon:  I never had anything against Brutus. I just thought it would be funny and I would get the most attention if I did it to Ohio state. I didn’t spend every waking moment of the year planning this either, I just came just came up with the idea a year ago, and it happened to fall through.
Kent:  What has been the most fun aspect of your fifteen minutes of national fame?

Brandon:  Probably watching (ESPN’s) Sportsnation vote me a hero over a jerk

What a kid.  In front of 100,000+ people who he knew would boo his ass, Brandon charged the obnoxious and sanctimonious Brutus.  He missed on the first effort because Brutus was being supported by some do-gooder male cheerleader, but kept after it and finally wrestled him to the ground in a flourish that we don’t get to see much outside of old Warner Brothers cartoons like “Foghorn Leghorn” and “Road Runner”.  Brandon is like a real-life Yosemite Sam.  He’s a rootin’ tootin’ fearless doer of daring deeds in the name of all the little guys out there who are sick of the Buckeyes and their high and mighty traditions.  Or he’s a nut who wanted some pub.  Either way, job well done.

Nice that Ohio University gave him another opportunity – this time as a former student – to sack a mascot after he had done this at Buffalo last year.