More than 20 years ago, when I started college at Syracuse University, I quickly realized there were dozens of young men like me, from around the country, who chose to attend the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at least in part because it’s the school that Bob Costas attended.
I chose the school for other reasons too (several friends from my hometown who studied broadcasting and journalism had gone there and had terrific experiences). But, like several of my classmates, and many hundreds more before me and after me, I believed I had a chance to be “The Next Bob Costas,” a term heard often in the halls of the Newhouse School.
When I started school, Costas was only 38 years old, but he was already a legend. He left school early for his first job (as only athletes themselves usually did), calling play-by-play of pro basketball games in St. Louis. He later donned the prestigious NBC Sports blazer and was their lead NFL studio anchor, Saturday baseball play-by-play announcer and landed every other high-profile assignment. Also, before sports radio was ubiquitous, he hosted “Costas Coast To Coast,” a weekly national sports radio interview show that was a “must listen” for sports media geeks like me.
As he proved last night with his interview of former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky and his attorney, Costas has a one-of-a-kind command of the English language and extraordinary ad-lib skill. He is still versatile and can be an announcer, host, commentator and, as he proved last night, an interviewer with journalistic ability on par with any newscaster.
Reading the many reaction pieces online today and hearing much reaction on the radio, even in this age of instant criticism, it appears unanimous – Costas cemented his stardom in that memorable interview.
I distinctly remember, just before classes started soon after I arrived on campus, a peer advisor telling me that “the sportscaster I’m interning for this year at Channel 5 really is ‘The Next Bob Costas.'” The name of that local sportscaster, just a few years out of school, was Mike Tirico. Today, Tirico is one of the most solid, versatile and respected sports broadcasters on the air. He may be the closest, but he’s not “The Next Bob Costas.”
Today, even in a very cluttered media world, only Bob Costas retains that title.