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Marty Smith, ESPN College Football Reporter

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
September 26, 2023 8:49 pm

Marty Smith, ESPN College Football Reporter

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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September 26, 2023 8:49 pm

Marty Smith joined Zach to discuss the release of his new book, "Sideline CEO" and who the best team in the Big Ten is. 

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One year upgrade requires financing, qualifying, device and upgrading in good condition after six months with half paid off. We continue this Zach Gelb show coast to coast on CBS Sports Radio. Let's head out to the guest line right now and talk to the author of a brand new book that is out. Sideline CEO, leadership principles from championship coaches and the author is Marty Smith. Of course, the legendary ESPN correspondent, kind enough to join us right now.

On the Zach Gelb show on CBS Sports Radio. Marty, first off, congratulations on a new book. Appreciate the time and how are things going? Zach, thank you, brother. Good afternoon.

I appreciate you giving me the platform, man. Everything's wonderful. It's college football season in the south, baby.

It's God's time. It's the best time of year. Everything's great.

Very busy. We got great college football season underway and a ton of storylines. And I'm so grateful that all of these amazing leaders and coaches gave me so much of their time to be able to put sideline CEO together and hopefully impact some lives of the folks who read it.

Yes. So you've been involved clearly covering college football for many years and you're great at creating relationships when you've talked to these coaches for so many years and now they assist you in helping out with the book. Did any of these coaches kind of surprise you? And did you learn some new things about them?

I learned a lot, actually. You know, it really is kind of a who's who, Zach. It's, you know, Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney, Mac Brown and Roy Williams, Tom Izzo, John Calipari, Doc Rivers. Patty Gasso just won her seventh national championship with Oklahoma softball.

Kim Mulkey just won her fourth national championship with LSU women's basketball. So, I mean, Kirby Smart is in the book. It's just it's a it is a group of leaders who achieved and succeeded at the absolute pinnacle in very high pressure jobs where you either win or you're gone. And the pillars in the book really that each of them really dive into all of those little nuances that really make great leaders and ultimately leadership comes down to influence.

It's not power. It's can you move people? Can you pull, push, bring people with you, especially if they don't believe they're capable of doing so themselves? And so all of those individuals gave me so much of their time. And I feel like the readers can can take a lot of this and inject it into their daily walk, no matter their profession. I've done so as a father and husband, much less a professional.

And so it is a very insightful, vulnerable book full of wisdom. I saw an interview that you did recently and it was really moving and very touching. And you were talking about your mother who passed away in 1998 and then also your father in 2008. You brought up what we do and the jobs and the people that we kind of impacted and touch. I've had a few friends, unfortunately, that have lost their parents at a young age. And I have the utmost respect for them, how they're able to move on in this difficult thing that we call life on the platform that we're on right now.

On the radio. You never know who's listening and you always know you can make an impact. I'm just curious with what you've had to do for a long time now. Just what kind of advice do you give to someone that unfortunately has lost a loved one, has lost a mother and a father at a young age? Well, first of all, it's hard to ever get over it. Yeah, I was very, very young when I lost my mom.

I was 20. And then basically when my mother passed away, she had breast cancer. We lost my dad spiritually, too.

He lived physically for 10 more years, but spiritually he was hollow. And it is very difficult. Your normal is never what it was with that blase fare, blissful, very naive approach. I grew up in a home with two parents that we never questioned if they loved us. And I mean, we went to church and it was Friday night lights and the whole thing, like Beaver Cleaver, man. And so when that normal is shaken to its core, you have to really grow up fast, but you have to figure out who you are. And that's a difficult thing to do. And I mean, look, I'm 47 years old now, Zach, and I feel like I've only really learned who I am in the last few of those years.

Being truly self-confident and not beholden to outside perspectives that might influence the person that I want to be. Because when your parents go, I say all that, when your parents go, you lose a compass. And it's a compass that you don't even know is there, especially dudes with their dads. Roof's leaking, call daddy. Truck won't start, call daddy. He's always got an answer.

And if he doesn't, he knows how to find it. And then all of a sudden that's gone. And so you've got to figure it out by yourself.

And that's an old bleep moment when you've got to figure it out by yourself at 30 years old. And so I would I would just tell those people, carry their spirit unabashedly in everything you do. I've been grateful that I've been able to do that. I wish that my parents could see some of the things that I've gotten to experience and witness and do. But I just try my very best to. I still every single day I'm seeking my father's favor. I lost him 15 years ago.

I know this could be a tough question to answer, but just based off what you said, Marty Smith, who is the Marty Smith that you found out about yourself the last few years? I think it's someone that wants to be a servant leader. It's someone who wants to be present in every relationship, in every moment, certainly for his wife and for his children, who wants to be authentic and and care about other people in a way that is a light in the world. And time is our most precious resource, Zach, and it's hard to give it all the time. But if someone wants it and you can impact their life with a smile and you can impact their life by saying hello and asking about their day, you can you can quite literally change their life. And I'm not too busy for that. And so that's the person I want to be. I want to be.

I want to have open ears and a closed mouth. I want to ask you about your life and and really be alike. ESPN is not my purpose, man. ESPN is a platform for my purpose. And I feel like my purpose is that light.

And and I'm so thankful that I have the platform to try to be that for other people. I'll tell you, I think I saw just a genuine moment of you a few years ago. I think it was a few years ago you were walking past a young reporter who's doing a stand up, a recorded stand up.

But you're right. It's the most obnoxious thing to do in the business because you try to get it perfect that it's not live. And when you do things live, you just go right through it. That moment and you just take in what, 45 seconds, a minute out of your day to talk to that young reporter. I thought as someone in the business, that was a pretty cool moment, Marty. Well, thank you.

I appreciate your kind words. And first of all, that young man's name is Jack Patterson. He's a reporter down in Columbus, Georgia. At the time, I did not know this. That was his first assignment. Wow.

Really? A cameraman for years. He had been kind of like the utility guy for his station for years.

But that was kind of the first time that they sent him out on his own and said, all right, man, go show us. And I could see the frustration building in him. And I've been on I've been doing television now for two decades. I hate tape stand ups to this second because of your point, Zach. You want every word to be perfect.

If you fumble one, you've got to do it over again. And I just don't know why, man. I felt led to just tell him, hey, brother, take your time.

Everything like I hate it. You're doing a great job. I can tell you have great spirit and you're going to get it.

Just take a deep breath and you're going to get it. And I had no idea he was had any intention of disseminating that moment. But my word. What came from that and the response I woke up the next morning. I'm like a five thirty five forty five riser every day. I got up the next morning around that time and I had hundreds of text messages. And the very first one I saw is from Shane Beamer, who South Carolina football coach with whom I grew up.

We played every sport against each other from like seventh or eighth grade on. And we're very close friends today. And it said it is so wonderful that the world gets to see the Marty Smith we've always known. And I was like, oh, Lord, what did I do? Did I. And and he had tagged or excuse me, kind of copied, included the link to Jack's tweet. And I went, oh, my goodness gracious, a lot.

I cannot believe this. But what that like it is a forever bond between Jack and me. He's a wonderful young man. And I'm so grateful that he had that moment. Like the the the confidence that came.

I hate social media because I think most of it's crap. But that was one of those moments where all these thousands of people infused his life with all of this joy and affirmation and confidence. And that is beautiful. Marty Smith here with us. His new book is outside and CEO leadership principles from championship coaches. Let me get to a few college football things before we let you run. You know, the seesaw ride of college football season. Alabama loses to Texas. The sky is falling and they don't play well up against USF.

They go back to Milro. They get a big win up against Ole Miss. What do you think the ceiling is for Alabama this season, Marty?

Very high. I was never one that ascribed to the sky is falling. You know, Alabama fans and Ohio State fans and Clemson fans. They have such high expectations that it's either college football or bust. College football.

Excuse me. I'm in college football playoff or bust. And it's just sort of an irrational approach because of the continued sustained sustained success that they have. I think that's a really good football team that they can stay healthy. Now, their offensive line play has not been good. Their quarterback play, they're still figuring out, figuring it out.

But Tommy Reese, look, Zach, the second half of that game against Ole Miss was a halftime coaching adjustment clinic. They adjusted to what Jalen does very well. That is design quarterback runs. That is running the football downhill, imposing your will, taking some play action shots off of that run game.

And it worked. So defensively, they are nasty, bro. Now, they do have a couple of injuries that are concerning, but I think that they still have a very high ceiling. I do. The games this weekend inside the SEC, Georgia, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss. What's the one that stands out to you the most, Marty Smith?

Well, we are going to Kentucky hosting Florida. And I love Mark Stoops. He's a great coach. Not only is he a great coach, he's a phenomenal dude. I mean, like, just that hard core, that whole family. You know, they have that rural Ohio steel belt, rust belt, just Midwestern sensibility, tough blue collar kind of way about them.

And I love all of them. And he's built that within the Kentucky program. At a basketball school, he's made football very relevant. I love their quarterback.

He's, you know, Devin Leary, still trying to work his way into Liam Cohen's system. But, boy, that kid can rip it. They have good wide receivers, a solid offensive line. They've got some good guys on the defensive side of the ball. But Florida's a better dude than people think they are. They lost the season opener to Utah. I was talking to my colleague, Jordan Rogers, about that game. And he goes, when he went back and watched the tape, and I did too after he told me this, it was a two or three play game.

I mean, they didn't, the score was not terribly indicative of how well Florida played in that game. So, this one to me that we're going to in Lexington has a ton of juice. And I can't wait to get there, man. It's a noon kickoff.

Our show leads directly into it. They're going to be lathered up. I love what Coach Stoop said in his press conference yesterday, that he has great confidence in the people of Kentucky that they can get up early and pound them cold beers and be ready for that one. Before we let you run, we all know the Pac-12 and its final season has been awesome so far with Washington, Oregon, USC, Washington State, Utah, and a bunch of other teams. Clearly, you've got to talk about Colorado.

I know coming off a big-time beatdown up against the Ducks this weekend. Tell us about what Coach Prime, Deion Sanders, has been able to do in three, four games so far in his tenure at Colorado for not only just the university, but for the game of college football. Remarkable. One of the hardest things to do is walk into a culture that is irrelevant and flip it.

And he did it instantly. He walked in there and made it very clear from the jump, what is is not what was. And what is going to be is not what is. We're coming, and I'm bringing my luggage. And he went in there, and it's so fascinating to me, Zach, because you've got to look at it on a fundamental human level. What do all of us want? We want hope and we want belonging from middle school, high school, cliquish relationships, all the way until we meet Jesus.

We want hope and we want belonging. And Deion has given that not just to the program, not just to the university, but to the individual souls on that roster. And it's awesome to watch. And I just marvel at it because, you know, and I've done a few interviews this week where people look at Dan Lanning's commentary and Ryan Day's reaction after the Ohio State win.

They all believe that's the Deion effect. I don't know yet if I agree with that. I'm not saying it's not, but I'm not saying it is yet either.

I know this. It's like if you're a four or five star recruit and you have the standard modus operandi programs on your list, Bama, Georgia, Clemson, Ohio State, Florida State, Texas, if they're what's on your you're looking out west, man. You're looking out west to Boulder. You're looking out west to Southern Cal and what Lincoln's doing.

Because that's good. I mean, like it's big boy stuff. And with Deion leading with love like that, all those young people are just like, man, I want to be a part of that thing. Last thing I'll ask you before we let Marty Smith run on the Zach Gelb show on CBS Sports Radio. When I look at the Big Ten, I know Ohio State beat Notre Dame this weekend. I thought Notre Dame, though, should have won the game. I think Michigan's better than Ohio State.

I'm a Temple graduate. I'll say nothing nice about Penn State. But I also think Penn State is better than Ohio State this year with the Buckeyes. How would you rank those three teams right now, Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State?

It's funny. I was doing a show in Columbus the other day and they asked me who was going to win the Big Ten East. And I went with Michigan. I think Michigan's the best team out of those three.

They're the most complete. And, you know, look, and right now it goes through Ann Arbor. I love McCarthy. I think he's such a baller. I love Blake Corum. He is such a tough downhill runner. I love Jim Harbaugh. He's got it humming up there. Now, I will tell you, brother, Kyle McCord showed me a lot on Saturday night in South Bend, Indiana.

Showed me a whole lot. I love Aller up there in Happy Valley and I love James Franklin. All three of those teams are going to make a – I mean, like, I'm an SEC guy, right? I always maintain that the SEC West is the most difficult division in sports. I'm not sure it's not the Big Ten East this year.

How about that? Sideline CEO Leadership Principles from Championship Coaches. The forward is by Tim Tebow. The book is by ESPN legendary correspondent Marty Smith. Marty, wonderful conversation. Appreciate the time and good luck with the book. Thank you for your spirit, brother. I appreciate the platform.

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