Colin Cowherd has come a long way since beginning his professional career as a play-by-play announcer for the Las Vegas Stars in 1987. He was named Nevada Sportscaster of the Year five times while at Channel 3, before moving in the early ’90s to Tampa, Fla., and then Portland, Ore. Cowherd, 46, and based in Bristol, Conn., is now one of the biggest names in sports talk radio, hosting The Herd With Colin Cowherd five days a week and co-hosting SportsNation with Michelle Beadle on ESPN2.
Do you miss Vegas?
I’m married now, so I spend a lot of time with my wife and family. In Vegas, where my career took me seven hours a day and my life took me 15, now it’s just the opposite. But I prefer it this way. Social life is fine, but I get bored with it. I will say that when I was in Vegas, it was really fun being single. The women were beautiful, there was a lot to do and I’ve always liked the looseness of the city. You’ve got a lot of weirdos, flakes and freaks, and it’s fun. There’s the saying about whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. I’ve always felt the opposite. Whatever happens in Vegas, tell everybody. Whatever happens in Dayton, Ohio, keep to yourself because nobody cares.
Why is your radio show is so successful?
In order to cut through, you have to be different. And if you’re different, you’re going to get a lot of negative feedback, and positive. I always tell young broadcasters, “You want to matter? Then get hate mail.” If you get hate mail, it means you’re cutting through. It means you’re pissing people off. It means you sound different. So I’ve always had my own style, which is brutal honesty. I’ve never spent too much time worrying about hurt feelings.
You have a reputation for having little tolerance for those who disagree with you. Do you think it’s warranted?
When somebody calls the radio show on his car phone who is a fan, who has an agenda, who’s not objective, yeah, I’m not going to give him much. He’s got very little rope. The minute I think he’s being a fan, he’s going to get cut off. There’s a never-ending supply of people who call the show who have an emotional attachment to a team. Well, I don’t. I’m just working around data, preparation, three hours of research. Can you imagine walking into a restaurant and thinking, “I know more about this stuff than a chef does?” In order for you to come on my show and knock me off the pedestal, you better come in fully armed, because I am. I’m ready to go to battle and I’m not going down easy. If you’re offended by someone who argues, I’m not your guy.
Do you ever see Las Vegas landing a major professional sports franchise?
I don’t, and I’m not sure it’s necessary. Vegas is not Milwaukee; it has a very active nightlife. It’s not even Phoenix, which is a fun city. Vegas doesn’t need pro sports to be interesting at night. There are a couple of things to remember, and one of them is: Very few people that live in Vegas are from Vegas. It’s not St. Louis or Philadelphia where 70 percent of the people that live there are from there and have been rooting for the same team forever. You can’t build a team on a fan base of the visiting teams. It doesn’t work that way. The other thing is: A lot of the affluent people in Vegas who would buy season tickets are working at night. No other city in the country, other than maybe New York, has that many people working at 7:30 at night, which is your typical starting time for an NBA or baseball game.
What do you think about the NFL’s stance on Las Vegas and betting?
Everybody bets the NFL. It’s always been interesting to me: Only 4 percent of all the money bet on the NFL is actually at Vegas casinos. People are betting in Hoboken [N.J.] and you have two teams in New York, so I think we tend to look at Vegas, and people are frightened of it, but it’s a tiny, tiny percentage of sports bettors, especially with the Internet, who are actually in Vegas or betting in Vegas.
If you could change anything about Vegas, what would it be?
Vegas needs to mature as a city; the economy needs to diversify. And that would go a long way in helping Las Vegas become a professional sports city. But when I go to Vegas, I don’t want to go to games. I can go to games anywhere. When I go to Vegas, I want to gamble. If there were games in Vegas, I would never go. I can’t go to casinos in Milwaukee, Denver or Chicago, but I can go to games there. If I was in Vegas, even if the Lakers were in town, I wouldn’t go. I’d rather go to a really cool casino.
Who do you have winning the World Series, Super Bowl and college football championships this season?
Super Bowl, I’ll go with the Baltimore Ravens beating the Atlanta Falcons. World Series, the Philadelphia Phillies beating the Texas Rangers. College football, I think Boise State is going to meet Ohio State for the national championship, and I’ll go Ohio State, 21-17.