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Crawford serving it warm at BGSU

ESPN’s Jay Crawford, who is the co-host of “Cold Pizza”, will be here today to emcee the student kick-off event for Building Dreams: The Centennial Campaign for Bowling Green State University, and he will speak at 2 p.m. in the Falcon’s Nest of the Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

Crawford, who is a 1987 graduate of Bowling Green and native of Sandusky, Ohio, will be here to talk about his time at BGSU and how it prepared him for his career in broadcasting.

Since graduating from BG, he has worked in Hartford, Conn., Columbus, Ohio — where he first stepped into the spotlight to many students here while working as a sports anchor for WBNS-TV — Tampa Bay, Florida and in Kentucky before working for ESPN.

Crawford took time to reflect about his days at BGSU, his path through the broadcasting world and what it is like to work at ESPN.

Adam Hritzak: What do you remember most about your time at BGSU?

Jay Crawford: I had a blast. I spent a lot of time at the ice rink because I took hockey [and] I think I took it every semester I was there, even though it only counted once or twice. Just the whole experience of college life, making new friends from all over and just getting out and trying to meet as many different people as I can.

AH: Did you cover sports while you were here?

JC: Yeah, I worked at WBGU and WFAL. I just did sports. I wrote a lot of sportscasts and did a talk show. The beauty of it was, it was student-run, so you could make as many mistakes as you wanted to and it was all a learning process.

AH: How much do you still follow BGSU sports?

JC: I follow them a pretty fair amount. I hit the Web site on a regular basis. I’m a huge baseball guy … so I keep an eye on the baseball team. I just check in general, like the football team. I ordered the college football package; so every chance I could get, I would tune their games in. I try to be in bed every night by 10:30 p.m. because I’m getting up at 2:30 a.m., so I was very disappointed the night of the Toledo game. I go to bed at halftime feeling pretty good about things and I wake up the next morning … and start sifting through my papers to see the Bowling Green score and I saw they lost. I couldn’t believe that Toledo came back that way.

AH: How would you describe your time working for WBNS in Columbus?

JC: It was a great time to be in Columbus because I think the [Ohio State] football team, the five seasons I was there, lost like nine times and four of them were to Michigan. They had some great teams and you’d be pretty hard pressed to find a five-year period where they had that good a record with that much talent. I made a lot of close friends. Guys like Kirk Herbstreit and Ryan Miller are still very good friends of mine. Columbus is pretty much always going to be home to me in one way or another.

AH: You left Columbus to work as sports anchor and director at WFTS Channel 28 in Tampa, where, during your stay, you covered the Tampa Bay Buccaneers run to Super Bowl glory in 2002. What was that experience like?

JC: Covering that team was probably the most fun I’ve ever had covering a team. Getting to cover a Super Bowl is, for most, a once in a lifetime thing if you’re lucky. Those guys were just a great group of guys.

AH: How did the job at ESPN with “Cold Pizza” come about?

JC: They [ESPN] had called me about a job maybe two years prior and they didn’t know where the show was going to be. They knew it wasn’t going to be in Bristol [Conn., home of ESPN], but they didn’t know where it was going to be. I was having a blast in Tampa, Fla. I loved Tampa [and] the weather, and I didn’t really want to leave, so I had said no to that job. They called me a year later and I had just signed another five-year contract to stay in Tampa. I went up a second time to New York City and looked around, and the more I listened, the more intrigued I became about [the show], and then it finally sounded like it was the right thing to do. If I was going to do it, this was the right time, and I started in September of 2003.

AH: Did you envision the show to take off as well as it has?

JC: That’s been a really nice, pleasant surprise to have the success with that show that we’ve had. This is the first time I’ve ever been a part of something that was brand new. We came in and we just basically built it from the ground up.

AH: With the show “1st and 10” that you host as well, you get to work with one of the more colorful television personalities in Woody Paige. What’s it like working with him?

JC: He’s a nut job, but he’s a lot of fun. We laugh more off the air than we do on the air and it seems like we’re constantly laughing on the air. He’s a great man and a lot of fun.

AH: Is there a favorite athlete or coach you’ve interviewed?

JC: There’s way too many to even think. Jon Gruden was a lot of fun just because of his intensity. I like the ones that are more light-hearted. You just never know where they’re going to go. We had Victoria Secret models on the show one day and they were plugging some makeup kit. I asked one of them if she’d put lip gloss on for me and she said, ‘No, I have a better idea. Why don’t you put it on for me?’ That was one of my more fun moments on the show. My hand was shaking like crazy as I’m trying to put this lip gloss on this Victoria Secret model.

AH: Is there any advice you have for college students who want to work in the sports field?

JC: Be persistent. The ones that persevere, the ones that aren’t afraid to hear no, aren’t afraid to have doors slammed in their face, those are the ones that will get the good jobs. Put yourself in a position to have several job offers to where you can choose. Don’t give up and be persistent.

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