One of the more unusual sports media job sagas in the last while involved Doug Gottlieb, who left CBS for a position at Fox in March, but interviewed to be Oklahoma State’s head men’s basketball coach just one day after officially joining Fox. Despite the school conducting a wide search and spending $15,000 on a consulting firm, they wound up just promoting previous assistant Mike Boynton in the end, leading to Gottlieb joining Fox as intended. He spoke to Jason Barrett on the Barrett Sports Media Podcast this week about that saga, about how confident he was he would get the job, and about how he felt when he didn’t get it. That part of the interview starts around 48:20:
Barrett asks “How mentally and personally taxing was it for you, and how do you feel about the way the whole process ended?” Gottlieb responds “It was unbelievably taxing,” then goes through how he wasn’t expecting the job to even come open again (which it did thanks to Brad Underwood leaving for Illinois after his first year, one day after the team’s NCAA tournament loss to Michigan), how he felt he finished second in the previous search and had a good chance at getting the job this time, and how he was fielding calls from former players, donors and fans and trying to line up a staff (including his brother, Oregon State assistant coach Gregg Gottlieb) and even eying potential recruits. He then talks about how his wife was trying to mentally plan for their move to California to join Fox while also considering what they’d need to do if he got the Oklahoma State job, and at 51:10, talks about how both of them thought he had this job.
“It suddenly got very real to her,” Gottlieb said. “It became, not everybody, but almost everybody said ‘This is a formality. It’s going to happen. To go from zero to 100. …And then to the…I was literally, I landed from Oklahoma, driving from the airport to my radio show, and I got a call like ‘Hey, you ain’t getting it.’ And then they hired somebody completely unexpected. The air didn’t slowly come out of the balloon; somebody popped it, and I was in a million different pieces on the sidewalk. So, it was a lot.”
From the outside, perhaps the most remarkable part of the Gottlieb-Oklahoma State saga was that he would pursue that job so quickly after landing a new media job with Fox. Gottlieb told Barrett (51:55) that Fox Sports president of national networks Jamie Horowitz was fully in support of him interviewing with Oklahoma State, though, in a way that not everyone at CBS was when he did the same thing the previous year.
“One of the best things about it was the Fox guys were incredible,” he said. “Not everyone at CBS was incredible the year before when I talked to Oklahoma State, I talked to a couple of other people about their jobs. But I wanted to make sure that they knew before it became public. I said ‘Listen, this is a conversation, I have no idea where it’s going to go.’ Not everybody at CBS was…they were like ‘Hey, you work at CBS, why would you consider another job?’ At Fox, they were like ‘Dude, you have to go after this job. You have to interview. If you get it, fine. You’ll always have a home here. And I hadn’t even worked for them yet!”
“They were announcing Wednesday, and on Tuesday, Oklahoma State called me on the way to my radio show, I was flying out to LA after the show, and they were like ‘Hey, can you come and interview Thursday?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, shit. Is Fox going to want to fire me? Jamie’s going to have my ass. But Jamie’s a former basketball player, and he’s like ‘Dude, you’ve got to go, get that job.’ Jamie Horowitz claims he wanted to be my head recruiter, but I have a feeling he would have been buying kids, which would have gotten us in NCAA trouble.”
Gottlieb then went on to talk about the roller-coaster of emotion he went on.
“But no, in all seriousness, the emotion…I didn’t expect it, I was also not working the NCAA tournament, which was really hard. I left what I thought was a utopia at ESPN, I was very happy there, for Selection Sunday, the Final Four, and I knew it was happening long before the world was happening, I wasn’t going to be working it, I was going to Fox and all that other stuff, but it still sucked to watch it, you know? And people texting you ‘Where are you?’ …So all that emotion, it was a crazy couple of weeks.”
There’s a lot of other interesting stuff in that podcast, including Gottlieb blasting SI’s Richard Deitsch (20:05-23:30) and how Gottlieb sees his time at CBS as “a missed opportunity on both ends” (23:45). But the inside story of how the Oklahoma State interview went down, and how supportive Horowitz and Fox were of Gottlieb wanting to interview there, particularly stands out. Gottlieb also says at the end of the interview (54:05) that he’s not sure if he’ll be coaching or in sports media in five years, but eventually picks sports media because “To this point, no AD has the nuts.” We’ll see if he gets another look on the coaching side going forward.