KU's home football opener is right around the corner and now is as good of time as any to get…
Sam, I Am
As part of Fox College Sports' efforts to feature a more interactive broadcast, you can follow Steele on Twitter and ask questions @SamonFCS. Interesting tweets or questions will be used during the broadcast.
Kevin Flaherty: "First off, can we get some background? Where did you go to school, and how did you get to this point? Is this your first game on Fox?"
Samantha Steele: "I was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ in a family of six. I went to Central High School where I played volleyball, softball, track and tennis and my dad coached football and basketball. As a kid, I always thought Ahmad Rashad had the coolest job so I figured if I moved to NYC after high school maybe I'd be able to do something like that (naïve right?!). After two months, I landed an internship at ABC Sports Radio where I interviewed guys like Kasey Kahne and Dennis Rodman (now there's a father's dream) and seemingly everyone in between. When I moved to TV, I helped in the research department for John Saunders, Craig James and Aaron Taylor/Doug Flutie on the college football studio show. Sitting around in the green room Saturday after Saturday talking ball over chili and brownies (fellas can eat!), those guys gave me the confidence that I could do sideline reporting. So what I'm saying is, if you don't like me… blame them.
"For school, I went to The King's College in NYC, Arizona State University and finished at Liberty University in Virginia. Start the flake chants now. I liked to think of my college degree as more of a journey than a destination (thank you Oprah). I will say, the journey would have been shorter if I knew my old friend Sallie Mae was going to turn on me.
"While at Liberty for two years, I was the host/reporter for all of the Big South football and basketball games aired locally on the Flames Sports Network and nationally on MASN and Family Net. I learned by trial and error, but the crew, coaches and Athletic Director made it a job about getting to know people, not just reporting on injuries and changes in coverages.
"This will be my third game for Fox, but my first college football game on FCS. I covered the Junior World Championship in Canton, OH this summer where I got to hear Mexican coaches yell at their corners in Spanish to jam Team Japan's Jumpei Yoshimoto… all 5'5'' of him."
KF: "What have been your early impressions of the Jayhawks?"
SS: "Obviously, Todd Reesing is special. Fortunately, I think Kansas fans are aware of this and know how much they will miss him when he's gone. I'm also really impressed with Kerry Meier. I love an all-around athlete and it seems like the guy can do it all. More than anything, I love that Coach Mangino has developed a real program, a system, at Kansas. A lot of coaches can come in and win some games, but Mangino seems to be building for the future and winning in the meantime."
KF: "What do you think are some of the greatest traditions in college football?"
SS: "That's the thing about college football; everyone thinks his or her traditions are the greatest. It's about the fan, the community and the school. At King's, we didn't have football, at ASU the tradition was looking good and at Liberty they always opened up the game with a prayer and then flames shot up over the tunnel… it was like a little mixture of Heaven and Hell. Guess you had to be there.
"I worked at a sports camp one summer with a lot of Kansas students when I first learned about Rock Chalk Jayhawk. At first I was skeptical, mostly because I didn't know what the heck it meant, but after doing some thorough research (on Wikipedia, of course) I discovered that this chant was used in wars since 1899. Can't really argue with that!"
KF: "What do you feel you bring to the job?"
SS: "Sideline reporting isn't exactly rocket science (shocking, I know). This is not to say that it's an easy job, because it's not. When I'm working, I try and think of what it was like watching games my whole life. I always joke with my friends that whenever sideline reporters came on, my dad and brothers treated them like commercials… it was either mute or talk amongst yourselves. I'm less concerned with getting across a perfect report than I am making fans feel like they're a part of the action. Everyone knows the head coach thinks his guys are working hard and are going to turn it around in the second half. I think it's more interesting to tell fans that their left defensive tackle babysat twin girls all summer and got bulldozed by his d-end on a stunt in practice yesterday."
KF: "How about your personal life? What hobbies do you have, etc?"
SS: "Working in college football doesn't give you much time for a personal life. There are always changes in schemes, players, and coaches and plenty of film to watch. I bought a bike with a basket this summer so I go on little adventures whenever I can, but it's 115 degrees in Phoenix and the sun wins every time. I also like Jim Gaffigan. Look him up."
KF: "I understand you're a big college football fan. Was there any moment that stood out in making you that way?"
SS: "I love college football because of the struggle, the competition and the pageantry of it all. I feel like you can tell a lot about a player or a coach by the way they win, the way they respond to pressure and how they handle themselves when things don't go well. Plus, who doesn't love a big hit on a Saturday afternoon?!"
KF: "What do you feel are some storylines to watch this year?"
SS: "Having grown up in Pac 10 country, I know what it's like to have the whole country suspect of your defense. When you run the spread and score a lot of points, the skeptics are inevitable. I think one of the biggest questions for the Big 12 North this year is whether or not they can keep from making opposing QB's highlight reels. Bring the pressure, man up in coverage and make the open field tackles. (Easy for me to say, right?) For Kansas, I think you have to shut down teams in your first six games in order to get ready for the last six. The last half of their schedule has to be one of the most difficult in the country. In what could be his last year of football, I'm looking for big things from Jake Sharp as he works to establish a running game and prove that MJD and Darren Sproles aren't the only undersized backs who can be game changers."
KF: "And last, but not least, if you're picking somebody to protect you in a dark alley, do you pick: Godzilla, King Kong or Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing?"
SS: "How about I just stay out of dark alleys and let Reesing stick to the gun slinging? Although maybe I'll keep some of the O-line around just in case."
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