GOTTLIEB FINDS NICHE WHERE HE GOT START

PETE DOUGHERTY STAFF WRITER
Section: Sports,  Page: B2

Date: Friday, October 9, 2009

SCHENECTADY -- If Doug Gottlieb comes across on ESPN Radio as someone who knows Siena basketball coach Fran McCaffery well, it is because he does. McCaffery was an assistant at Notre Dame and helped recruit Gottlieb, who played for one season in South Bend before transferring to Oklahoma State.


Gottlieb, 32, now is among ESPN's roster of college basketball gurus, although he tackled all sports topics Thursday as he did his radio show from the WTMM (104.5 FM) studios at Regent Communications. He was in town to emcee Thursday night's Coaches vs. Cancer "Basket Ball" at The Egg.


Ironically, WTMM doesn't air Gottlieb's show, usually because "Sound-Off With Sinkoff" is in the same time slot, though Thursday the conflict was baseball playoffs.


Still, Gottlieb is heard often on other shows and platforms on ESPN, especially during college basketball season. That was the theme for most of the questions I threw at him minutes before his radio show went on the air.


So Fran McCaffery was the guy who got you to South Bend?


"Franny was the guy. He was a conduit to the coach when I played there for a year. We remained close even afterwards. I think the world of him, and I'm so happy that he finally got back to being a head coach."


Siena benefits from your association with him, because they seem to get some national publicity because of you.


"I try to help him out. I tell people all the time, it's a lot easier for me to go into my boss and say, 'Hey, do you want to get this guy on?' if you're winning games. With 25 wins, it's a pretty easy sale."


What is it about you and your dislike for Syracuse?


"I treat everybody kind of the same. If it comes across as negative, it's because there are elephants that are in the room that a lot of people believe, and no one else is willing to say. For a long time (Syracuse) didn't play anybody on the road.


"Most sane, rational Syracuse fans will say, 'I don't really like what he says, but at least he says what he thinks.' That's valued. It's helped me create a niche to at least on some level have a voice in college basketball."


Did you ever think what you've been able to carve out for yourself in 10 years would be possible when you got out of Oklahoma State?


"Not in 10 years."


Was that a dream of yours?


"I thought I'd be a head coach by now, but this kind of just happened. I listened to Jim Rome a lot as a kid, listened to a guy named Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton in San Diego as a kid, so I thought I could do that. Anyone who knows me growing up is like, 'You've found the perfect job. I never saw you fitting into the NBA, so this makes sense.' "


There's more job security in broadcasting, isn't there?


"Not necessarily. At least in basketball you have stats to back you up, you have the score. My argument, when I was arguing with coach (Eddie) Sutton for playing time, was, 'Forget what I do shooting the ball. What's the score when I'm in? What's the score when I'm out?'


"In radio, it's perception-based. There are guys who I think are really good that get stuck behind guys who aren't very good that are going very good stuff. ... I've got a new contract, so things are pretty good. If they change management, they change their idea of what they think is good or I say something dumb, you can be out tomorrow. I don't walk around nervous, but I'm very respectful not only of the prominence of my job, but the limited number of jobs that are like mine."


Pete Dougherty is the Times Union's sports TV/radio column. He can be reached at 454-5416 or by e-mail at pdougherty@timesunion.com. Visit his blog at http://blogs.timesunion.com/sportsmedia.


BOX:


Sound bytes


1 Chris Berman proved once again this week that he isn't the second coming of Vin Scully. He worked the first two games of the Rockies-Phillies series for ESPN Radio, but he just doesn't possess the skill to paint a picture for listeners. He should stick to his strengths, which are TV and the NFL.


2 NHL Center Ice, which provides coverage of virtually every game (include those otherwise blacked out in the Capital Region), is offering a free preview through Oct. 24 on Time Warner digital cable and DirecTV. Usually such previews are only for a week. Hockey fans who don't want to pay the full season price ($163.80) should take advantage.


3 Siena is moving its men's basketball games to WGDJ (1300 AM). The negative is a weaker signal than what WROW (590 AM) provided, although the station is planning a power upgrade. The positive will be hour-long pregame and postgame shows. Those who can't get the signal will go to the Internet anyway.Weekend's best


Today, 6 p.m.: Major-league baseball, AL Division Series, Minnesota at N.Y. Yankees (TBS). So do Yankees fans turn down Chip Caray to listen to John 'n Suzyn? Hardly. Let's hope the network provides good pictures.


Today, 9:30 p.m.: Major league baseball, AL Division Series, Boston at L.A. Angels (TBS). Don Orsillo, who calls Red Sox games for NESN, may be the best of the four TBS play-by-play men for the Division Series.


Saturday, 8 p.m.: College football, Florida at LSU (CBS-6). The Gators need a healthy Tim Tebow to survive a Saturday night in Cajun country.


Sunday, 4:15 p.m.: Pro football, New England at Denver (CBS-6). Did John Elway come out of retirement? The Broncos are a surprising 4-0.


Monday, 8:30 p.m.: Pro football, N.Y. Jets at Miami (ESPN). "Monday Night Football" has had a run of big ratings, but postseason baseball may chisel into the audience slightly.


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