ESPN's corporate layoffs that were reported to be in the hundreds were given a disheartening public face on Wednesday when it was reported by John Koblin that longtime stats guru Howie Schwab was one of the longtime ESPN employees cut loose by the company. Schwab had been with ESPN since 1987 when he started as a freelance researcher. He famously moved in front of the cameras with the trivia show Stump the Schwab and had appeared on air as recently as last month as part of UNITE's Schwab Tournament. Ironically enough, UNITE and its staffers are also reportedly on the ESPN chopping block.
I had a chance to talk to Howie Schwab a couple weeks ago for this profile piece in the lead up to the UNITE final. Schwab was everything you wouldn't expect from his TV persona - soft spoken, genuine, and very complimentary of all the college students that participated and got the chance to visit Bristol. In fact, he noted that his favorite part of the entire experience was the time off the air showing the finalists around the ESPN campus and spending time taking to them about a future career in the business. Most of all, Schwab spoke of his joy of working at ESPN - from stats research, to Stump the Schwab, to his work with Dick Vitale, and even MCing the ESPYs red carpet.
After the news broke, Schwab posted this message to his Facebook page, which received numerous positive comments from in and out of Bristol. If you visit the link, you'll see several recognizable names leaving their condolences and well wishes.
Several current and former ESPNers also made their thoughts known on Twitter:
Seeing Howie Schwab in the hallways at ESPN with his jersey du jour and a big bag of chips was always a delight. #thatsucks— Michelle Beadle (@MichelleDBeadle) June 12, 2013
Sad that HowieSchwab was let go at ESPN. To me he was ESPN. He gave me a shot when no one else would. He's much more than just a trivia whiz— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) June 12, 2013
Sad that my buddy Howie Schwab was part of the cutbacks due to financial decisions. Howie has been a great help to me - wish him the best!— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) June 12, 2013
We hung with Howie Schwab Monday in North Carolina. He was with Vitale. Great guy. Always helped the @dpshow when we all worked in Bristol.— Paul Pabst (@PaulPabst) June 12, 2013
Another anonymous source who worked in Schwab's department at ESPN sent us this e-mail:
"I didn't have too many personal dealings with the Schwab but I worked in his group (Stats & Information) for five years.
I never heard one bad thing about him. He was regarded very well both professionally and personally.
So, you're right, his on-air persona was much different than his actual one.
Very sad day for that place. Twenty-six years. Thanks for the positive coverage of him. He deserves it."
The numerous testimonies to Schwab show the impact this move will have both inside and outside Bristol. Schwab was the ethos of the most redeeming qualities of ESPN and worked there for 26 years, most of which were spent well away from the limelight. Just two weeks I talked to him about how much he loved his work at ESPN. Now, he's gone.
Given his following and popularity after being on "Stump the Schwab" Howie Schwab will become the public face for these layoffs and the people who have given decades of service to ESPN only to be laid off due to their high salaries. It's nothing but unfortunate.
"They'll also whine that 'rights' fees are high,"
And they out-bid for everything. Most of the time against themselves
My cable bill is astronomically high thanks almost single-handedly to ESPN. I would say that 70% of that monthly bill goes to ESPN, so how hypocritical of them to whine about 'financial difficulties.' They'll also whine that 'rights' fees are high, but ESPN still clears a gigantic profit in spite of that.
Hate to say this but people get let go all the time for no reason. It's the way of the world these days. I survived it and found a much better job and he probably will also.
You're happy that a guy that serviced ESPN for many decades, and was one of the last decent people left at the network got laid off. Yeah, you're a decent human being.
ESPN fires the ONE St. John's fan they have working for them. F*** ESPN, Schwab will find a home on Fox. Go Johnnies!
I wasnt that big of a fan of his tv persona but it seems like he was a different person in that interview with awful announcing.
Much respect, though, to a guy who loves sports for the right reasons. Not for the money or the noterity but because he LOVES it.
Also, Eric Crouch was another Heisman winning 3rd string NFL qb why didn't he too get the Tebow treatment? Did he not find God??
They will replace him with another "expert" NFL analyst that played for the Patriots. Seriously these guys have to get sick of talking NFL 24/7 365, right??
look at all the talking heads they have there that just don't belong like Skip Bayless , & the overpaid washed up sides of beef football players that they pay trim the fat on some on air persons who need to go away
Honestly, who needs stats on SportsCenter when you can just show athlete's tweets every five minutes? Further down the toilet in Bristol....
Sounds like you, sir, did not read the article, which outlined that he put on that persona in front of the cameras for the sake of the show. Sounds like he was actually a pretty nice guy and just a big sports nut like most of the rest of us, just with a much better memory.
Funny that a creep like Skip Bayless makes $1 million a year and it's a guy like Schwab who gets fired. Corporate greed sucks.
It's not like he was worth anything to them. I mean, seriously, just a cocky sports nut, doesn't make him more important.
I find it shameful that hundreds of ESPN employees can be laid off, while I have yet to see even one of the high-priced, high-profile employees say word one. Maybe it wouldn't make a difference, but they have a voice and they should use it. They are all cowards.
@John Alexander That's not exactly a fair argument as Tebow has a body of work, taking a Bronco team that would've finished at or slightly below .500 to a Divisional Round playoff team. Crouch barely accomplished a thing.
Neither are hall of fame caliber, don't get me wrong. But Tebow deserves better at a place where he can truly fit. He was never a fit with the Jets. That was a train wreck from the get go.
Back to subject, please. Definitely sad to see Howie let go. For those of us hoping for a Stump the Schwab reboot, this kills all hopes. Except perhaps a spinoff, 'Stump Skip Bayless'.
@Matt Pelc or ask viewers to tweet their suggestions to pro athletes on how they can improve their game. That's what I want to know. What does Joe Sixpack suggest some Red Sox pitcher should do between starts to elevate his pitch count.