Stillwater News Press

OSU Sports

March 27, 2010

Doug Gottlieb helped Oklahoma State reach the Elite 8 in 2000. Today he discusses basketball as ESPN's resident Cowboy

STILLWATER, Okla. — Ask Doug Gottlieb where he’s from and he always has the same answer.

“I tell them all the time: I was born in Milwaukee, I was raised in California and I grew up in Stillwater,” Gottlieb said Friday in a short break between being on ESPN’s SportsCenter and taping a piece for ESPNews on the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball tournament. “I feel like it’s almost like ground zero of my second life.”

Gottlieb has become one of OSU’s notable recent alumns, having fashioned a career on ESPN that has him both on the radio and on TV seemingly 24 hours a day.

The path to Stillwater for Gottlieb — who played basketball for Oklahoma State for three years from 1997 to 2000 — wasn’t always smooth. But as he tells it, it certainly was worth the trip.

Gottlieb played high school basketball in Orange, Calif., and was one of the most highly-recruited point guards on the West Coast.

He chose Notre Dame and started all but four games his freshman season. Following his first year in South Bend, he was expelled from the school for stealing a credit card from a roommate.

He says the biggest mistake of his life helped lead him to the best possible situation for him to grow up: Oklahoma State and then coach Eddie Sutton.

“I wanted to go somewhere where basketball was king, and at the time it was,” Gottlieb said. “I’d be lying if I said I knew before I got there that I’d enjoy it as much as I did.

“But I’d never spoken to anybody who didn’t say, ‘oh, you’re going to Stillwater. What a great town that is.’ There’s a misconception that it’s way out in the boonies and five hours from anywhere. You always want to go and play at a place that you can play and be successful and I got to play for a guy who was an absolute legend.”

Gottlieb thrived under Sutton, leading the Cowboys to three straight NCAA tournaments — including the Elite 8 in 2000 — and led the nation in assists as a junior and was second as a senior. His 947 all-time assists currently ranks him 10th in NCAA history.

After playing two years professionally overseas, Gottlieb realized his dream of playing in the NBA was coming to an end.

So he turned his attention to a new love: the media.

Gottlieb had worked in the sports radio market in Oklahoma City since graduating from OSU, and his big chance came when ESPN hired him in 2003 to co-host its GameNight show. That led to hosting his own radio show on ESPN. That led to television and his current job as one of ESPN’s lead college basketball analysts.

Gottlieb also writes for ESPN The Magazine and has a daily blog on ESPN.com

“The thing about this job, there’s not anyone who knew me in Stillwater that would say, ‘yeah, I could never see you doing that,’” said Gottlieb with a laugh. “I like that I do radio, I like that I write. I like that I do stuff with television.

“There’s not a job in the world I would rather have.”

But living on the East Coast — Gottlieb and his family lives 20 miles outside of Bristol, Conn. — hasn’t faded his memories or love of Stillwater and Oklahoma.

He and his wife Angie, a former OSU Pom, and their children still make at least one yearly return to Oklahoma to see family and friends.

“Some families, there’s the question of which family should you go back and see on vacation,” Gottlieb said. “With us there’s no question. We always go back to Oklahoma. It’s a pace of life we like. My wife’s whole family is from there. I feel like a part of me still resides there.”

And Gottlieb himself might be a resident today had he followed his other dream: coaching.

“I’ve just always thought that if you give me an opportunity, I’m going to take advantage of it,” Gottlieb said. “Whether it was in basketball, in coaching or being on TV, I always envisioned myself either playing in the NBA, doing what I’m doing now or being the head coach at Oklahoma State.”

It’s a pretty safe bet he found the right choice.

Twelve years ago Gottlieb arrived in Stillwater a California kid who was paying for a mistake he made in Indiana.

A decade later he’s as much Oklahoma as anybody. And proud of it.

“I remember everything about it,” Gottlieb said. “I remember my first Lights on Stillwater, I remember living in Bennett Hall, I remember so fondly every distinct aspect of my three years as a student that there’s no question it was the best three years of my life.”

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