Scott D. Pierce: Trevor Matich can thank Steve Spurrier for ESPN gig
ESPN football analyst Trevor Matich credits Steve Spurrier with helping him land a job with the worldwide leader in sports. And not because the two were friends.
Matich, who was the center on BYU's 1984 national champions and went on to a 12-year NFL career, started doing a couple weekly radio segments for a local station when he joined the Redskins in 1994.
"That turned into a lot of radio, and not just about football," he said. "That turned into some local TV stuff. And then, when I retired, I had an offer from Fox."
He did some NFL games for Fox, a lot of Conference USA games on Fox Sports Net, then moved to CBS for a year. Matich was doing Redskins pre- and postgame shows for the D.C. Fox station when Spurrier was hired as head coach.
"He is one of the greatest college coaches of all time, in my opinion," Matich said. "In the NFL, not so much."
Spurrier went 7-9 and 5-11 before resigning.
"In the second year, I was so mad at what he was doing I just started lighting him up on local TV," Matich said. "And ended up with some really great quotes and some really great moments."
Like when he said, "The Redskins would be better off if their head coach were a ham sandwich. A ham sandwich has no personal agenda and would at least do no harm."
Spurrier, Matich said, "wasn't happy about it, but it was good TV. So I made a highlight tape and drove up to Connecticut to spend 90 seconds with the guy who is the gatekeeper for those tapes. Walked into his office, talked to him for 90 seconds, handed him the tape and left. And that tape is what got me hired."
It's 330 miles from Washington to Bristol. But Matich didn't think twice, equating it to how he came early and stayed late at football practice.
"To me, it just made perfect sense to drive six hours each way from D.C. to hand a guy a tape so that it didn't end up in a box with 500 others that he'd get to sometime before Thanksgiving," Matich said.
He still does Redskins pre- and postgame shows on local cable in D.C. on Sundays, then travels to Bristol on Mondays to "do eight or 10 hours of tape study looking for 2 minutes of tape. But the right two minutes. I don't want to call a production assistant and tell him, 'OK, I need Penn State's quarterback throwing an interception over the middle.' I need to know what the coverage was, what his feet were doing, where his eyes were."
The BYU alum said he was "excited and a little terrified" when the Cougars declared their football independence. He sees them becoming "a lot like" Notre Dame in the way they're perceived.
"A lot of people want BYU to win, and a lot of people will wail and gnash their teeth if BYU even scores a touchdown," Matich said. "And if BYU loses, the BYU haters will be out in full force. Either way, like with Notre Dame, there is a deep passion on both sides of the fence.
"Ultimately, that's good."
Whereas BYU officials insist they looked at going independent for years, Matich said he just sort of fell into broadcasting. But he's made the best of it even winning four local Emmys for those Redskins pre- and postgame shows.
They're in a closet with all his other awards and memorabilia.
"I'm single," he said. "What am I going to do, make a monument to myself that I can look at? Say, 'Wow, I used to be great.' Now I'm going to go have some HÃ¤agen-Dazs in my jammies and watch reruns of 'Green Acres.'
"I'll leave that stuff in the box until there's somebody who cares enough to bring it out."
SCOTT D. PIERCEcovers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. His sports on TV column runs Wednesdays. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce; read his blog at sltrib.com/blogs/tv.
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