Huddle Up with Gus
Huddle Up with Gus

Episode · 2 years ago

Kevin Rabbitt

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

CEO of NEP Broadcast Productions joins the huddle, Kevin talks; playing against the Fab Five in college, his path to a CEO, and bowling with Venus Williams. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

I am former NFL quarterback, gusts frau. I played quarterback fifteen years in the NFL. This is my show called huddle up with gusts. Each week I team up with my longtime friend Dave Hagar and we talked with guests about how sports shape their lives. Pro Athletes, business executives, community leaders, everyone has a story to tell about sports. We invite you to huddle up with guests this week in the huddle. He was an all American kid growing up in America's heartland. His competitive and hardworking athlete loved sports. Focused and determined, he always kept designing the ball, basketball, that is this ball. Or dribbled his way into junior college, posted up at rice and then made a fast break for Harvard, where he earned an MBA. He now runs one of the most powerful sports media companies in the world. Please, welcome to the huddle, Kevin Rabbit. We're here at the Beautiful Energy Innovation Center and we're bringing into the huddle today a special guest who, you know, just one of the largest companies in all of America. Do anythink Dave, quiet giant? Quiet giant. I like that. I like that. So joining us today in the huddle is Kevin Rabbit. Kevin, thanks for being with us. We really appreciate you coming in and getting in the huddle and talking and tell us a little bit about your life and I'll sports shape that. Glad to be here well. Thank you. So, you know, one of the things we like to do is ask those kind of early questions. A lot of people don't know because, you know, a lot of people can look at your bio and see all the accomplishments you've had, but what we'd like to do is get into really how you started your life and like what influenced you. WHO's that first person or first idol or or what influence you to really love sports? Yeah, that's great. I grew up in Kansas City and, as really say, sports was my entire life, so either playing sports, watching sports, talking about sports, and really the two people that had the biggest impact where my father, who was it was a college basketball player and won the NAI National Championship in one thousand nine hundred and sixty four, and that was always kind of a focal point of knowing that he did that and and and how much fun that was for him and how proud he was that and then my older brother was three years older and you know, essentially that's who I compete against every day. You know, I think it's such an advantage to have an older sibling that kicks your butt on a regular basis and sports, and I didn't even play against kids my own age until I think I got, you know, Middle School. Just played on his teams and I got to play against him and we had a big thing in our neighborhood that whatever sport you played, so basketball, football, baseball outside, the winning team got to go in our basement and they got to hit a certain put a certain song on the jukebox. That was we are the champions by Queen, and you get to sing it to the losing team. And so I still have nightmares my brother like saying, you know, no time for losers and pointing at me. So that was that was actually that was actually a big, big it's little use that as motivation. Yeah, I sure do. When it was great when I got to the stage where I could beat him because I got to sing it to him. Oh yeah, and things and he no long wanted to play with me anymore. So, yeah, so they do you do randomly? Just send him that song and say hey, remember when I kicked your but he knows that. So yeah, well, Kansas City such a great sports town. I mean you must have fallen all the local team absolutely then the royals were great than Kansas City kings were around that time. You know. Now on the Sacramento Kings. I was remember being at the game when Darryl Dawkins broke the backboard in Kansas City and chocolate thunders. I get Thart. They couldn't. They couldn't figure out how to get a new basket in there. So and they didn't know what to do with the fans. We got to get you walk down the court and get a piece of the glass and they were figuring out what what to do. Yeah, so George Brett was always my my favorite athlete of all time. I got to know him and my my adult life and he's not disappointed. He has the competitor that that he comes across in baseball. When you're playing golf with them or any other sport, he always wants to win and he usually does. Usually fust like stories to him. Sure. Oh, yeah, yeah, I don't think. I think those for a different podcast. Yeah, so one thing I always like my father and I. We collected cards together. Did you click cards or anything like that? Yeah, we did be big when we were younger. Yeah, baseball cards were especially so we know we had, you get the whole set. I remember getting one thousand nine hundred and eighty and tire set and just stuff. Got Those somewhere and then we would, you know, collect random ones. You know that we would trade then across the neighbor kids and it was it was a big part of growing up. So did your parents did they? You know, sports different now, I mean you have kids and it's so different, like it's a so everything's regimented and you got to be here like so, when you were kid and you had to play a little league or whatever it was, your parents always go to your games and where they always supportive. And Yeah, they were. They were at every game all the way actually through college. I think they made made most games. I mean they were, they were sports a big part of their life as well and they have, they've been big supporters of me and...

...but you know, I would agree. It's very different now. I mean, and you know, when we grew up, you have, you played for sports. Right, every season was something different and you know, you didn't specialize at age nine and into a particular sport, and I think it was good for your body to play different sports and muscles, to develop different ways, if your mind, to have less burn out. And Yeah, for sure. Yeah, like one of my favorite things is growing up was we would just go and we'd rade our bike from house to house and get kids and we'd go to the local field and we just played. Yeah, you know, and that's what I regret is I don't see kids doing that today. Did you? was that a big part of what you guys grew absolutely, I a man worth thinking entire summer. What I would do is either myself and my brother or my next door day or Ross, it was my brother's age. We get our bikes, ride down to we called it a country club, but I think it was a glorified meal park right has a small membership to it. We play. We'd play tennis all day, probably play, you know, three four hours a tennis, go swimming for a little while, come back, play Ping Pong in the basement and then go to your baseball game that night. And that was you would repeat and pick a pick a different sport. Maybe it's whiffleball, the next day if it was raining outside, my extor neighbor and I we would we would have tournaments and ping pong where I, my right hand, would play his left hand. Then Myley Leftan will play his right hand and you hope to both right hands won. So there be a championship. Right. And speaking whiffleball, it's funny now, even an age forty nine, driving around different suburbs of Pittsburgh, I'll go that looks like maybe a good whiffleball field. You know, it's still think. I think that all the time. And there's there's a house on the field club the corner, corner lot on the cone. It's on eleven. That's got a straight uphill and it'd be a perfect whiffleball field playing up hill. Oh yeah, so Keith Kat Chuck gotta, He was played in the NHL for a long time. They they called him Big Walt Right. So every year he has a home. He's from Boston and so they have a home out in the Cape. Every year that he has a wiffleball tournament and he invites different people there and you know it's one of those drinking tournaments, but it's whiffleball. So you know, if you think you can't hit a woof of ball when you're sober, yeah, imagine when you're you're have a little fun with such a hockey players. It didn't share. Still the umpire. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So you know, understanding like how we all grew up. And so what was that one moment from when you were a kid that you remember sports that it really stayed with you? Was it whether you were playing or watching somebody or seeing a championship? What was that? Yeah, I remember. I think there's probably two. So one was I was in it was in fifth grade. My Dad reminds me of this all the time, playing in great American Basketball League, so the local wreck basketball league, and I remember we had lost to this team earlier in the seasons, our only loss, and we're playing them in the championship and cold, snowy day I had cut the tips of my finger of my gloves off so I can shoot before the game outside and in get ready, and I remember my dad saying, you know, it's okay if you guys don't win this game, Sai, don't worry, Dad, we're going to. We're going to win this game, and I remember, I think that was my all time high on my life. I got thirty five points. I think I'd like the first sixteen points of the game and and just remember in retrospect. You remember kind of how hard you worked and then you got reward for for working in want and desire to win. And then a little bit, quite a bit later in high school we always had really good high school teams. You know, we have three to five division one players on our team and thost years. I started from sophomore year on and we never could quite get to where we wanted to be. And then my senior year we went undefeated and won the state championship on a buzzer beater of three pointer at the Buzzer to to win state in the state of the large class of Kansas. And Wow, that group of players, you know, three of US went on to play Division One, other two. We're great role players and then we had a six guy that that played any I. But that group will be friends for life. We get together once or twice a year still and it's like we have even left each other because it was a group that worked all summer to try and achieve something that had we had fallen short, even with kind of more talented teams in the years before. I think the crowds and high school Kansas were tremendous. Ran They they were outstanding. Yeah, and we were. Our High School had, you know, over twozero kids, but you know, we would probably have two thousand fans for for every game. Wow. And then, you know, you get to the State Championship. It's probably seven, eight thousand people at the game. What arena did you play? The State Championship and poorious State University. So it's a division to school. Yeah, when we won, this is an interesting store. When we won, I passed the ball to write over the half court line. took named Greg Gurley, who in a plane at Kansas. GREIG caught it turned shot a three pointer at the BUZZER. We win by we win by two points. We were down by one at the time. All of our fans, our student section, jumped up at the same time because they're excited and they land on the bleachers and the bleachers collapse. So people were flowing onto the flow, onto the court.

No one really got hurt, but it was it was amazing. We still I still watch that video and you see people jump in these just flowing on onto the court because they the bleachers collapsed, right, and that's what started. Like all the fans were using the court as an accident and their fans are started. Now it's a you see it all the time, right, bum, Russian, and you would win a state championship or National Championship, right, right. Wow, Kevin, we're going to get a little bit about your high school experience. We've all had different high school experiences. Dave, you know, we don't like talk about his anymore because as they're kind of crazy. They were limited also athletically, but a good fan you were. Yeah, we so we had Ryan Fitzpatrick on a few weeks ago and so dave was from Tucson. Ryan's from Gilbert, Arizona, and so they had a little bit of, you know, Arizona arrival here in Pittsburgh. So I was kind of funny. How real short, the worst homer job e ever seen from a referee was in at one that I thought we were still I find it finished atom by at Gilbert. The raps were from Gilbert ever seeing like it. So when you got into your high school, you like so we all make that transition from like eighth grade to high school. It's it's tough for a lot of people, you know. So what was that like for you when you went from you know, you we're all playing sports with all your buddies and else and you're in high school and some things change, something stay the same. For me was a good transition. I remember, I think probably my worst athletic year ever was eighth grade and I hadn't grown and other kids have grown. I remember just being on how I went from being good to being, you know, not very good, and so I think at the high school I saw this kind of a new opportunity to re establish myself in sports. I Played Two sports. I played soccer and I played and I played basketball and I played, you know, don't even seek this happens man anymore, by playing a freshman team, but both. You know, when I when I was a freshman, end up having great coaches and both of those that really helped me develops. The best thing, I mean, I think I was disappoint I wasn't playing Jav on these but played freshman and that was probably the best part of my development. And then from sophomore year on I started varsity after those. So that was that. That transition was really about. I think too, great freshman coaches that that really helped me develop in both those sports and that's important to because there's so many people who are disappointed if they don't make the say the GV, not varst year, whatever. Sometimes you gotta play, you got to get minutes and get better, and that's what Ken did. He you know, if there wasn't a freshman team, you may have sat the bench as GV player and absolutely and I think I think just getting reps in or whatever you're doing is more important than saying you're on whatever team you're on right and also having an influence like a great coach that understands it could communicate. Coaches make such a big difference in kids lives in high school and we see it all the time if they don't have a good coach. You guys were just talking about Fox Chapel. You know, if if there's not a good coach, then sometimes things can happen in a different way, that that people don't want to go out right and if you have a good coach then you want to go and play. And it seems like you had that that kind of experience. Certainly did. I had great coaches again, both freshman coaches were outstanding and they were not going to full time teachers. One was a had been a college soccer player and one was had formerly been a coach but had and they came back to coach those teams because they really wanted to and they had a big impact and that I was fortunate to have great varsity coaches throughout as well my younger brother as a high school coach now out. So I just have a lot of respect for for folks that, you know, spend that amount of time trying to shape, you know, kids, young kids lives and deal with parent issues and other things that they get in the way as well. It just trying to coach. And just a disclaimer, both Kevin and my kids both could and Fox Chapel and they're all great coaches, which I would absolutely relieve that we when established that we have this great thing called editing days. So they don't like that, we can take it out. But I was just trying to make the point that my kids didn't want to play certain sports because they knew that the coach at central wasn't somebody they wanted to be around, because other kids talk and great coaches, you know, usually develop great players because they understand them, they know how to deal with them, they know how to put them, you know, through the ring of like my high school coach was my wife's father and Harry Cook, forty two years and Harry was tough as they come in football, but everybody respected him and everybody wanted to play for him. So coaches come in all different shapes and sizes and can make a real difference in it, in a kid's life. Absolutely. So you went through a little bit about your you know you're one of your greatest moments was, you know, you guys win the State Championship, but you didn't get there because you were just there. So talk a little bit about that hard work he had to put in all the time. Yeah, I mean it was. Basketball was always my favorite of the sports, so I worked at basketball year round. I love soccer, but you know, soccer I didn't I don't think I put as much time into and so, you know, is ongoing routine that I would do. You know, would be, if it is in the summertime, it would be an hour and a half to our rouutine of hitting ball, handling,...

...shooting and then, in addition to that, addition to that doing weightlifting and other conditioning and and when it was in season or or still school year, it would be a shorter version of that, but that was a big part of it. And then as a team we all got together and we would we would meet at someone's house and we would do workouts together. We would meet at the gym and do work out together. We play in the same summer leagues and then in the pure form you know, not what it is today, we played a a basketball to certainly me and in the other two guys that Played Division One. At that point in time Kansas City was probably the hottest that there's been in basketball and they've written articles about this in the Knsie Star where there's I think there was like two thousand, two hundred and twenty five division one players when I was when I was a senior coming out of coming out of the high school area there, and we we won the Kansas side State Championship and ranked Nashally in USA Day. Another team won the Missouri side and they were ranked Nashally in USA Day as well, and so we would we did two different AU teams that were from Kansas City and we both teams were all friends, but what teams toured around and we played I think thirty thirty five games in the summer against you people like Penny Hardaway and Sean Bradley and Wow, and that was a big moment for us because we all realize I think we went I think we played thirty one games. Think we're twenty eight and three. One of our losses was to the other Kansas City team. We lost to tie US ad me. We lost in Travis best, but we had beaten anfredy hardaway, we had beaten shown Bradley and that was kind of a moment where we all realized that we could play, you know, the sport at at a bigger level, not just not just Kansas City in high school. So Sean Bradley being seven six, like, how did you guys fare inside against that? We certainly didn't have a seven six guys. Our biggest guy was probably six hundred and ten. Yeah, and I'm going to play at Navy, but I remember I was going down a bass break and he was the only one back, Sean Bradley was, and so I was just going right out of them. I didn't know what's going to do, so I just jumped as high as I could, put the ball over my arm this way and threw it up over my head and my hip only got to his hip. I hit his hip and they called a foul on him in the ball went in. So it was that it was a computer luck shot, but it was a man as. We're gonna to play decond footage. Yeah, to find that footage and just post like posterizing Sean Bradley. But you know, you were talking about like soccer. Like when I grew up here and outside of Pittsburgh, I didn't really know what soccer was. I mean you kind of knew it was, but nobody really played it right, right, and so for you to even play soccer in high school, I don't even know if our high schools had that much around here when I was growing up. You know, back in the S. all right, she's on. They did. It was de sent but yeah, I don't know. I don't think anybody really wanted to play soccer here because it wasn't big. Yeah, it's already for mud right, yeah, it can't. Soccer was pretty big and can't see the time we had indoor soccer team the Kansas City comments. It was you know professional team and they had generated a lot of excitement. But yeah, I think soccer that point in times kind of like Lacrosse today right now. I'd never seen Lacrosse and it's all over now. Yeah, it's my kids played. They love it that. They didn't want to play baseball because they you know, two slows. Well, they were growing up in St Louis. It was slow and there's a lot of St Luis's huge baseball town and everybody wanted to play baseball and so they were one of like twenty kids on the team and they play two innings and they'd sit and then they played lacrosse and found out, Hey, I can hit my brother with this stick. Then he fell in love with it too. Yeah, it's you from one. Yeah, they got a two for one. So you probably growing up in Kansas City. You Dream as a basketball players probably play Kau, I would imagine every kid that grew up in Kansas. Yes, when did you start getting the feeling, hey, you know what, I might be able to play in this next level? That was probably after my sophomore year in high school. And I had mentioned my father was a college basketball player. My Golden Life had always been at that point in time to be a division one basketball player, and I don't know one really put that goal in my head, but that's what I wanted to be and certainly would would hope to have played at Kansas or Kansas State was great at the time as well. I've gotten that that point in time, Long Krueger was a head coach at Kansas State and I've gotten to know him. And is that like a Mitch Richmond? Are? It's Richmond, Steve Henson. I've got to know all those guys and I remember saying to coach Kruger one time we were golf and I said, you remember when you passed on me and it didn't take me? And he goes, Kevin, I stand by that evaluation. Still you might have got their team, GPA. Well, yeah, we don't need to talk about that. Would either. But you know, and I think that when you when you have those aspirations. For me, you know, the first letter I ever got was from University of Michigan to play football and I was like Oh yeah, I'm going to Michigan, but it didn't happen, you know, and then I start getting some other letters and understanding it. So were you get recruited by a lot of people. How did that work for you? Yeah, it was. I mean and again, since our team was so good, you know, Roy Williams is almost every one of our games. He had up taken, you know, my buddy to play for him, and so you got a lot of exposure. But yeah, I was recruited kind of broadly. So organ was recruiting me for a long time. They...

...came to a lot of games, a lot of Ivy League school so Princeton and Brown and then and then some of the Missouri Valley schools would come and watch as well. But I wasn't I don't think there was anyone that just said that they had to have me on their team, and so it wasn't like I was widely recruited, but certainly had a lot of exposure with a lot of people coming to watch me. Did Pe Krill ever call you or yeah, people will did. Yeah, and they got named Jan Van Bredakoff was is was his top assistant. That's been a lot of time on the on the phone with him. Okay, well, that's pretty interesting. So now you're a senior, right, and you got all these schools to choose from. So now you pick rice. I didn't pick rice originally, so and I end up not having a ton of choose from. So I organ dropped off at the end. They didn't. They didn't offer me, and so Princeton Brown both wanted me to come and and my my parents said, you know that that'd be great if you want to go there. And I really wanted a scholarship though. I didn't want my parents have to pay for school, and so I turned both of them down and Pete Kurill actually called guy named Wayne Zok who was a head coach at Monmouth College in New Jersey and used to be as assistant, and said you should take Kevin. So he took me side on seen at that point in time, based on Pete Ruel's recommendation, and so I played. I went to Monmouth college my freshman year. No Northeast Conference. Robert Morris always our big rival. Yeah, we were good. We think we won nineteen twenty games that year. I got mono, though. I got sick, and so I didn't I played in the first game against St John's. I didn't play any other games after that and at that point in time I realized that maybe I should have thought about an ivating school from an education standpoint. As much as I liked him onmouth, I was thinking I think I could kind of got a a little bit higher academic school. And Rice had always recruited me and one of my best friends a year below me had decided to go there and and so they said Hey, if you if you're instant coming still we we'd love to have you. So I was. I left Monmouth and I didn't want to sit out again. I just had a red shirt year. So I committed to rice and then I and then I played for one year and a junior college. Now while Marshalltown Community College, Ten ten Division One basketball players living in a motel on the middle of Iowa. The motel was called the in like budget at Motel, and basically all as we did was play basketball and every once while go to class. I'd spend on anythingskidting. Surprisingly in Marshalltown I were both my parents are from Marshalltown, marshalltown high school. Yeah, so I know marshalltown. Know that your parents are from Ile. Yeah, my dad went to Grenelle and yeah, but well, the my budget motel was right across the street from the beat club, the one night club. That was. That was right there as across highway thirty. So well, it was near the movie theater, because I remember we'd that was what we had to do, was good to the only thing to do. One showing was the one movie and we'd watch it, and so it was a it was a long way to get to rice, but then I played three years at rice after that. So we went through kind of your early years. Now we're into your college years. You just kind of you guys had a great connection of Marshalltown and where you were at a Juco and and then you go to rice after that. What was your experience like it rice? Yeah, that was that was a great experience overall. You know, Rice at the time was in the southwest conference, right, so it's Texas, Texas, am, Texas Tech, Tcu, smu, Baylor, so all Texas schools, all rivals, and we were good. We were we were just we had just kind of come through a period where they had been one of the worst teams in the conference. I got there, they had finished in the top three the year before. We thought we're going to win it my first year and we got send up getting second, and we I think the only school across my my career. Those three years we're losing record and it was Texas. Tex We had had good teams, right, and for me personally, I played a lot. So I was the backup point guards of sophomore was starter after that. But it was all pretty humbling experience to write. You start to realize, you know, how talented people are. Mean Texas had three point guards that played in the NBA and they're all playing together at the same time and so you yeah, and so you it's pretty humbling that you realize how hard you have to work just to compete with people. And you got to find ways to go on the court by doing things that you know everyone was a score before, right, and you got to find other ways to go in the court, by play in defense, by running the team, by playing harder and everybody else. Arkansas was in the conference. They had just left by the side by time I got that. Okay, so it just taxi schools of that point. You were a few. Got To admit you have to dodge the forty minutes at hell then I we did. Yeah, it was just what a great environment because everyone of you, again, everyone of these schools were were rival so I think we sold out every conference game, you know, and that would have other than TC. I think everyone's sold out there their buildings every time. Yeah, that's great. So a lot of transitions you made when you were younger and playing with all your buddies and understanding, because even in high school you you mentioned, you had a lot of talent on your teams and so you probably had to figure out all those different things that you were talking about. It right.

So all that experience you had growing up and play with all that talent probably helped you a lot when you were at rice. It helped a time. Yeah, and in you like. But time I got to rice again, I was not going to be the League score, but I you know, got going back and playing with you know, when I was a kid, playing my older brother. Right, I wouldn't going to be the League score and whatever we're plan if I'm playing with all the kids are three years older. So you to figure out a way to make a pass or get a steal or to do something if you want to get picked on a team and largely away. Mike, College career was right. If I was going to be on the court, was going to be because I was running the team as an extension of the coach. was playing great defense and hit open shots, but but knowing the personalities everyone else in the team, getting the ball the right people the right time. You know I was going to say. I was going to ask you guys. Did participate in March madness. We we end up making the NIIT. We were unbelievably disappointed. So we went even finishing sack fishing second that point in time. Yeah, and so we thought for sure we're going to get at large bid. We didn't. We went up to Wisconsin and played at Wisconsin the first round the unit. They had Michael Finley at the time. We beat them. Then went to Boston College and lost it bill curly. Yeah, that one thing. I didn't mention. My fairy first game at rice. This is this is a it was a big moment. I I forgot this one, but we played the opening game of the ESPN. It was given how good we were at that time. We played the Fab five when they were sophomores on the opening game of ESPN. So cancels played Georgia the first game and then we played. We played the fat five in the where the rockets arena in Houston wow, and we had a down almost the entire game. They end up beating us with about six or eight and that was that was my first my first entree into too rice basketball. So you were on jailmen rose and I was yes, so I I guarded him and I apply it played, you know, fifteen twenty minutes that game or something like that, and America came in at the end and and I'm face guard. Um, when they're up, I like for he goes, Oh, they brought you and found me. I said, I'm gonna steal the ball from I probably said a little more directly. Yeah, and you know, we're JEM back and forth. I found he made two for those, but give you a wink afterward. You've played against some of the greatest talent ever in college basketball, which has got to be a great experience. Probably can't for you can't forget those memories. I mean that's just amazing. Absolutely. I mean, and you know from from your sports career, there's a there's a camaraderie right, even if the someone was a competitor, there's a kind of mutual respect. If I run into someone now that I played against, it's always fun to catch up and there's that kind of mutual respect and camaraderie and but the talent level that that I got to play against was was unbelievable. That is great. So then, okay, so it's your senior year. You finished basketball. What was it? What was like? So now, like your college careers over, what we're what were you thinking? What was that next step in your mind? What were you going to do? Yeah, I really had no idea. So I was getting married. So my wife was an all American track runner at Rice, and so we hear faster news. Yeah, at least. So two times around the track, necessarily on the on the on the straway straight away. But yeah, and so we got married and I end up just taking a job with the late consulting because I thought it was a great way to learn some busy of the skills and it was a one of those analyst programs you got work for a couple of years and you go if you get your NBA, and so that I did that. It was actually really enjoying. It was learning, learning lots of things, but I got the bug to coach and so I decided to go back and become a college basketball coach and where did you do that? Would you go? And Texas State? It was called Southwest Texas the time. So Small Division, one school. I was the I was the third assistant. I was making a whopping salary of six thousand five hundred dollars a year and and I was our head coach. Was a great guy. He was one of the two youngest head coaches in the country and we had unbelievable talent. We had got named Jeff Foster, who played for the Indiana Pacers for fourteen years. Yeah, it's amazing how much better yours a coach when you get the leading rebound in the country and your team right, right, and and then there we made the NCA tournament. We went in of all things, get to go back to Kansas City to play and Kemper arena for the first round of the NCA tournament. Well, well, that's cool, is it? Where's that? Seeing Angelo now it's said just south of Austin. So it's in San Marcos, thirty thirty minutes south of Austin. So okay, WHO's worked out? Welks, my wife got to drive up to Austin. She was an accountant. So open my six thousand five hundreds wasn't going to cover right. So we RTE. We need it. We needed her health. They're right. So once one question always had about basketball in this because you see, like even in the NBA, you know there's four or five sometimes, well, a team what like I understand, like the assistance in football. Yep, I don't understand. Like what? What? So what was your role as and it's third assistant in Yeah, and basketball. It's the way we were. There's there's more resources now for divisional schools. There's more than just three assistants. But really, so one of the assistants would focus on the big guys,...

...one of the assistants would focus on the guards. Since I was a guard, I helped him with the guards. We just scouting for games. So all the scouting reports we divide equally amongst the three of us. So we just did every third game we would develop the scouting report and go over with the head coach then review it with the team. But I got a lot of the things that no one else want to do. Right, making sure kids are going to class, making sure they kept their grades up, making sure that that they that they behaved. And I wasn't that much older than right I was only a couple of years out of school, so I was able to connect with all the players quite easily. Would not recruiting. H third at that point. I'm a third assistant. Could not recruit. So you can. You could recruit several uls. That was a rule. Yeah, you can recruit on campus, which couldn't go on the road. You could only you can only have two assistants go on the road at the time. Yeah, so I've telling you about my son gunner. He's at William to marry and he's a student assistant with the football team and he's on twitter and social media like helping the coach with the kids and who we know come to William and marry all that stuff. So I don't know if that's considered recruiting, but he's doing a lot of the work. Well, you. I would write letters to kids, I could, I could make phone calls, but I couldn't be off campus evaluating kids. Can Yeah, you did one to do that anyway. That's why I never wanted to coach college football, was because of the just recruiting and driving and going house to house, a lot of dinners people's dining room tables and absolutely good. Yeah, I remember and coach Raider recruited me from the University of Tulsa and he came and my mom put on the biggest spread for him, right, and I'm like, mom, what do you do? What these coaches comment? We got to cook for them, right, you know? And so its coaches loved your mom. Oh, yeah, you might. I still talk to coach Raider all the time. He's like, man, remember that million mice? I I don't remember, coach, but the most pretty good, good evert. But so, you know, one of the amazing things to me is that you've been through you know, people see where you are today, but you know, it took a lot of work, like all these transitions really helped you probably to get where you are today. It to me. That's why I want people to understand, is that we go through all these things in life and it's teaching us some lessons that we're going to carry with us, just like your basketball and you're young, carried with you too, rice and probably all the other things you learned. And one of the things that athletes really have a hard time with is that they don't understand that the skills that they have acquired in business, because they've played a sport and dealing with whether you're the leader of the team or the you know, the guy that you're one of the players, but you know you're just trying to be a part of it. So you know, explain to that how that kind of got you to where you because I know after that you went to Harvard Bid Business Schools did. Yeah, so I left coaching went to work for the Houston Rockets running their arena football teams. I was in the business side of sports at that point in time. YEA, and so it kind of got the bog. I knew I wanted to be able to run a business, and I make the link here between sports and a second but and so I said, well, I need I have a lot harder kind of business skills as well in addition to the leadership skills and things I had. And that's why I went to Harvard and, you know, really honed in on things that I hadn't learned before, on finance and in strategy, and kind of got some hard skills to go along with it. But I still say to this day the the best education I ever got was being a point guard in basketball because, similar to being quarterback, you have to know the personalities of every player that's on that team. You have to know if they they need to be yelled at or if they need to be encouraged. You know where they like to catch the ball, to make shots. You got to know what they do on every play, in addition to yourself, and you got to be able to communicate really well, as you have leadership skills, communication skills. And then one of the skills that I think is in this happens in football, happens a basketball, is fast decisionmaking, using high quality kind of analytics, with the data in front of you to make a fast decision. That transfers to business as well as well as anything that you don't have to make a decision in ten seconds or thirty seconds in business, but you can still make a decision in a day or a week instead of bleoding it linger on forever. Just fast decisionmaking is something I learned in sports that I would that I would say is one of the most valuable skills that come across. Right executive decisionmaking. You know, there's a there's that term and and I think it is you're right, because sometimes if you're in a big meeting and you know, you can't let this get away. You got to be quick on your feet, just like in football. You know, I got to know if they're blitz and I got to know what guy to throw to and to make that first down or whatever that is. And and it all translate. And a lot of time as athletes don't understand. Yeah, I think it's certainly think it translates to man. Might Remember Willis Wilson was our head coach at rice and into the game playing Baylor. He can call a time out, he explains what play we're going to run and I had enough for enough for spects match ball. Come like, coach, we can't even run that play and practice, we're not going to. We're not going to, going to, we're not going great. We're not going to win the game with that play because, like, what do you want to play? I'm like, everyone thinks we're going to go to Adam or Tori. Scott's wide open it. Scott's going to hit a jump. Here I Scott, you can have the jumper. Yep, I'm at the jumper. We ran the play to Scotty. Get the jumper. Thank God, because it worked out that way. But that is that type of situation where you've got to be able to speak up and willing to speak up concisely, say, with logic or with facts, on what the what the right thing to do...

...is. Yeah, that's exactly the same in a business meeting. Know it really is, because I've been transitioning into business over the last couple of years and it was difficult transition for me because I've only known sports. I've coach Sports, played football for twenty five years and coached it, and so the go into the business world and then go to meet somebody that's the CEO of this company, it was was difficult to try to tell him what's on this paper and I got to got to show him. So it took a long time for me, but it's just like when we were kids, right, right. The only way I got to know how to play football and basketball is going out in the court with all my buddies, or going out in the field or, you know, putting the bikes down and saying, Hey, we can't hit it the right field. Today we're only allowed to hit to left because we only got four guys play right. So those things have and real cool. What do you say? That's there's a probably a lot of athletes and struggle once they're done playing that have the gift of being able to do you guys have been able to transition. They just don't really know how to tap into it or it's you know it's there because it's natural from them being a point guard or a quarterbod and I think that it comes back to like you had some phenomenal coaches, it sounds like, and a good coach when you're young could teach you things that stay with you for the rest of your life, right, and some coaches just don't see passed the court and good coaches will see pass that and they know that a great experience that they teach you can carry on with you through the rest of your life. One of the things that I always did at rice, I saw a lot of my teammates not doing this, which it was always amazing to me, is I really got to know the alumni and the donors and they were coming to games, they would go on trips with us, engage them and one of the one of the guys that I got to know on a trip that we went to Japan. He hired me from my first president role and was just through that connection of getting to know him while was that Rice. So he saw the leadership skills, he saw in firsthand and was willing to be a mentor and got me, got me a huge break in my career. Yeah, that that's I mean. I don't think I've done enough of that. I mean I played for seven teams, played all over the country and I still regret not meeting more people. Right because I was dealt with my coaches and my family, but I didn't do enough functions to go out and meet more people. Because the opportunities in front of you and if you don't grab of it, then it passenger by her like. Why? Think about that too. I went to school Arizona and I did not play sports there, but even people who I was friends with in fraternity's and I just met social and stuff. I didn't advance those relationships where now, when I think about it and I know where they're they came from and what they're doing now and stuff, I'm going. Why wouldn't I? You just have said something, you know, in passing, like Hey, I'm going to give you a call or whatever, instead of let it go. And now those guys are had a movie studios and stuff like I'm going. That would have been a good clee. Don't all have Kevin's intuition with that like that's weird. I was so worried about just playing football. That's what I love to do and right. And you don't think about that, you know, you don't think about the future and seems like you well, you said you had it, you had a clear future in the NFL, though I did not have a clear future in the NBA. So, though it wasn't clear, I was more necessity there. I had no idea it was going to go there. I mean until, you know, I started getting some calls from some of the pros, but you know, I was seventh round pick. got invited to the combine just to be the guy who throws the football every day, you know, and I was more and happy to go do that. But I really never thought I was going to be in the NFL for fifteen years. But you know, you just when you get the opportunities, you got to take the advantage of them absolutely. Now we've been through, you know, most of your life. Now we're getting into your professional career. You graduate from Harvard Business School. What was your next step after that transition? The next step is I went to work for a global consulting from Colbatia Company and and I I knew that I was not going to be a lifelong consultant, but I knew that Bain had a great reputation of helping people kind of leap frog their careers into companies. And what I do. I wanted to run businesses. So I was at Baine for exactly one year and my client have to be in Las Vegas that produced trade shows. They asked me if I would come on board to be their head of operations. So I did that and then over the next three years work my way up to be the CEO. It was Ziones, about a five hundred million dollar company that was a public company that we the time period I was CEO we almost doubled it and made it a worldwide business. Well and from there. So we lived in out in Las Vegas and three days of sunshine and lots of Golf. It was. It was a great place to live it. But I really wanted to work with a private equity owned business because I really like the way the private equity is aligned as shareholders and think about things a little longer term. And so I made a really odd move. So instead of designing and setting up trade shows, I went to work for a company called three day blinds that manufactures and sells window coverings to consumers. Right. So it was a direct marketing business, be to s business that was coming out of bankruptcy, but it was owned by one of the really large private act from called TPG Tys, a group, and we turned that around and I got...

...that growing and then one day I got a phone call from a recruiter. He said exactly this. He said, Kevin, I've been trying to fill this broadcast television role for a year and everyone tells me I need to speak with you, but you run a window covering company. Why and the Hell Am I speaking with you? And that's a lot. Good to meet you and nice. Tell me, tell me, tell me with the businesses. They tell me the business. I said, well, people tell you speak to me because it's very similar to what I did in trade shows. I mean completely different technology, but essentially all of your employees. We're a broadcast television business that helps bring a live content to air for big networks. All of our employees are sitting out and by the dumpsters and a parking lot somewhere right by arena, hard to communicate with. You have really high value assets and you need to get kind of asset and people utilization in order to in order to win, and you need relationship based selling. In have those type of skills. And I said that's the same thing I did as in, by the way, you have nowhere to grow. You're the largest player in the US and you're there's no way you're going to grow any further in the US. So so I came and interviewed and I met with woman named Deb Honkus, who's our founder. Yeah, she and I hit it off. She's lower borough, not really. Yeah, because it is any p then a Pittsburgh company the whole time, whole time. Yeah. So deb was one of the founders and they in she is created the largest player in the world in this space, and she is. She's been in a fantastic partner with me, and so I took over for her and we've just been growing ever since. We're down and I got you back into sports. I'll be back into sport. Yeah, and we a lot of international travel now. So we're in twenty two countries now and you know, we're substantially larger than we were when when we started this. Wow, that's just that's amazing. So tell us a little bit. So when you went back and you had to work your way up right, like a lot of people start like that and start and they have to push through the company to get to where they want to go. What was that part like for you? Did there at the last Vegas Company work and yeah, so that was it was interesting because I had been it had been a consultant for the company for a year and my job in the consulting side was to be out in the field and understand the field of operations, and so I dealt all these great relationships in the field. So when I came in I felt like I had a real big head start and I knew what we needed to do, but I was able to leverage those relationships in a way that it was great for me great for the company. And and then I moved into a sales roll and then I moved into a chief operating off their roll and then, fortunately, one day my boss came to me and said, Hey, congratulation, you're going to become seat you on the where you going? He's right. I'm running the parent company. That was it was ended up being. You know, a lot of things. It's just a lot of luck that goes into things. Right. You could, you can control how hard you work, you can control how prepared to make yourself. You can you can hopefully go get results, but you've got to be in the right place at the right time, as true in sports or and or in business. Is just a lot of kind of good bounces that go your way and that's been a big part of my career as well. Was it them coming to you to move up, or was it you saying how did you make that transition? Because I always want that. Like I always say, that kind of career development is, you know, more than fifty percent on the employee, you know. And so how mine worked was I when I was a consultant, I went to the CEO and he he said what do we do next, and I said, well, you hire me to be your head of operations and I know all we need to go do because I just did this work and I have all the relationships within your company. So he did that. He said now we need to grow. How do we do that? And I'm like, well, the last work we did was this new sales work which we went down. They own and I'm the one that led that work, so you should hire me to be your head of sales. And so it was. It was a credibility that I had with him, but it was also is also you're not going to get something and in no one's going to be looking out and saying, Hey, what Kevin needs to go do next. You got to be looking out for your own career right now. You got to be, you know, have the have the skills in which to be able to go to that and be prepared to be someone to tell you know or not yet, but I think you got to be a servant, as it was my view. Is there someone now that you still kind of lean on for advice or on a professional level? Maybe Emily at home? You? Yeah, no, I I'm a member of organization called Young Presidents Organization, Ypo, and you know, it's made up of cteos and presidents of certain sized businesses have to be under fifty in which to which to join the organization. There's like twenty six thousand cteos in this organization around the world, but the chapter here and Pittsburgh is about a hundred people and there's a group that I get together with of nine people that we get together every month and have real conversations about how do you real confidential and in hard hitting conversation. How do you make the company better? How do you how do you make yourself better? You make yourself a better husband, better father, and so that's a group I really lean on a lot. Then I've got a number of...

...mentors that I've picked up along the way that I still count on a lot. True, still friends with some of your buddies from Harvard and rice and absolutely, you know, it's been fun to watch both quite close with all of them, but it's been fun to watch a lot of my Harvard classmates and things they do. And and you you see peloton bikes. That was it was a good buddy of mine that founded that business and it's a great story, isn't it? Like, yeah, it's his is his idea to me and it's amazing what it's what it's done a but there's a number of folks that I'm quite close with from both places and it's fun to see them in decision make, whether they're partners consulting firms or CEOS of businesses or you know doing something in sports and again that network and that camaraderie is is still there as well. You just like a team, your classmates in school. You got to know what the other really well and you always kind of willing to drop whatever you're doing to help somebody out. So how many years have you been with any P now? I'm almost on eight, now on eight. Yeah. So out of those eight years, what has been your best sports memory that's been able to overtake you? Pretty much, good, you can. Yeah, usually, how you go anyway, it could. So the what I would say is the two that I don't miss any any year are the masters and Wimbledon, and those are, you know, iconic venues. Both of them World Class Service, the top of their game and their respective sports. Those are who I go to on a regular basis. So you were master's issue. When I was not there for the win, I was I was there, there, there on Friday, Thursday and Friday. I was amazing. But the one I think I like the best, which doesn't happen every obviously, is Rider Cup. The Rider Cup this the atmosphere is unbelievable. You see it on TV if you're been to one. So it was so different than the other in your other golf tournament, both in terms of the crowd, but also you see the pressure on the players when they've got teammates and they you know. Yeah, and so that's probably my favorite one that I go to. And then the Olympics are always high up there as well. I always wanted like. So they go from a sport it's individual, now they're on a team, and how does that affect them? Like, you know, because now all of a sudden, if you're losing the match, you just not losing, your whole team's losing. So that's the whole jer country, yeah, and your country country. Yeah, I think right. I think some of the players have a harder time that than others, right, I mean, and you got to be a good teammate in some if you've been an individual sport your whole career, you're not necessarily a great teammate, right. Yeah, you're competitive against the guy you need to make the put for your team and you're going. Well, I think that's how they it's a big part of how they pair up the the players together, and the Paris, right, is who can play together and who can compliment each other. Well. I think that's what's you know, there's so much made of the writer Cup captain each year. Who's who it's going to be? It's not just random picking up players. You got to know it's a bit big job. Yeah, now we're going to come into our no huddle segment, our last saying with it with Kevin here, and we're going to fire some questions Adam and and get him the answer them real quick. All right, Dave, shoot, all right, Kevin. If you could treat places with any athlete ever throughout time for one day, who would that be? George Brett. Can see royals when he was trying to hit four hundred. That was quite a what do you end up? Three? Nin Hundred, ninety? Yeah, wow, yeah, I have his rookie card. It's one of my favorite cards ever. It means just have that one month was as well. Yeah, that's a great that one and Roberto Clamayo's are my two favorite. The Yankee Stadium Tantrum to is one of the classic find our game. Yeah, that was yeah, what about your biggest pet peeve? Yeah, I think similar in sports or in business. Id you slept several terms. Lack of Hustle in sports or laziness in business, if someone just doesn't care enough to to go be part of the solution. Well like that. Yeah, a lot. I could be irritating. So you mentioned you've played against a lot of a great athletes, but who's the best player you've ever played against? Yeah, it's probably surprise you. It was travis best. So I played against Michael Finley, the Fab five penny, Hardaway. All those guys were outstanding, lot better players than me, but travis best was the only guy that could tell me what spot he was going to get to that spot and shoot it over me and still make it. And he did that. It did it. Yeah, that would do it. That would do it. What do you think the most overreated things, the most overtything in the sports world is today most overright thing, I'll say broadly potential. So when someone says someone has potential, I always think that that's that's overright. I tell me, tell me WHO's gotten results in the past and who works hard and who's going to WHO's going to go be determined? Well, you know, off side note, Harry, my wife's Dad, it could high school football here in PA for forty two years and he would tell every kid all the time. You know what it potential means, at least now with plants. For me, he doesn't means you're ain't worth the shit. That's what he used to tell is all that that you got to do something. So you've been all over the world, I mean travel, with your work and everything. What's your favorite vacation spot like? Where do you want to go? Where do you want to take your family? Sydney, Australia by far. It's my favorite place to go for...

...work. It's my favorite place to go vacation. It's just an amazing place. What do you like about for those haven't been there, way I would describe it is it's got more beautiful than San Francisco. It's got to kind of the weather of southern California. has got the beaches of a why, it's got English speaking, you know, as primary language of Australians. Were a lot of fun. They like Americans and it's just a unique looking city with a lot of fun things to do. How about the most famous person in your phone? Most it's probably Venus Williams. She's on my board. I still get excited when I get an email or attacks from Venus, even though I talk to regularly. Yeah, it's probably it's very exciting. Have you ever rallied with her? I have not rallied with I bowled against her and we've determined where two of the worst bowlers of all time. Oh Yeah, put the bumpers up. We should put them up now. We both could talk a lot of trash to each other. We just couldn't execute on the trash toll. Right. How about your favorite stadium that you've ever been into? Favorite Stadium, I would say, as a venue, still it is. It's Wimbledon, yeah, which is not just one stadium but yeah, but the whole the whole complex. Yeah, yeah, when you can have an all cups in great service, great experience, you just feel different when you go there and have a PIMS and watch the tennis and Tennessee even my you know what, I played a lot, but it's not even your top of my sports list, but I still love that venue. Might see the queen to for yeah, my leaf favorite stadium to play in ever was Kansas City. I played there as with the redskins. Yeah, and we're get all getting ready to play and they sing the NAT first time I've seen the national anthem. Yep, and at the end they just go cheese. So it's the home of them. So the brave I went those chiefs and then all of a sudden the stealth bomber flew over, like right over, and all our whole team. I'm looking at everybody's like it's gonna be a long I've had I've had others tell me the same thing. That said that even though they were warned, they when they do the chiefs, that they just feel it. It just goes right through it. It's pretty amazing feeling. Wow. Um, okay, last one. How about the loudest stadium you've ever played in? Loudest Stadium Ever played in? You know, I don't really remember loud stadiums because those are easy to play in my mind. I remember the quiet at stadium ever played in, and that was TCU, and I remember I was bringing the ball. Of course. Sorry to answer the question differently, but ever bring the ball to court and the guy in the front rows having a conversation? Hey, rabbit, you build the house. It was a great break. You had last possession and it's so quiet there that you do you hear that one more so the loud loudness is great. You just you just feel you feel like you're part of the game. Yeah, it's like you have headphone on almost you just you just tune it all out and you just play. Well, we really appreciate you coming in and being a part of the huddle and letting US pepper you with a bunch of questions and and hopefully our fans get out of it and a few people understand, you know, maybe how they get to where you are someday. Well, thanks for having me. It's great. All right, appreciate it. Thank you all right. Thanks having thanks. All right, that's no huddle and we're going to break it there and we'll let you all know when we when we get back next week.

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