Few people have had as decorated a playing career at the high school, college, and NFL level as Chris Spielman. The former Ohio State linebacker has served for the last decade as an ESPN college football analyst and he was kind enough to spend a few moments with us today to talk about the upcoming bowl season that starts tomorrow. You can view the entire bowl schedule along with announcing assignments here.
But Spielman's story is about much more than football. In 2009, he lost his wife Stefanie after a courageous battle with breast cancer at the age of 42. Spielman wrote a highly acclaimed book in 2012 about that journey and in Columbus, the Stefanie Spielman Fund has raised millions for breast cancer research. In addition to a conversation about the bowl season, the Big Ten, and his alma mater, he also opens up about becoming an author and the meaningful work of the Spielman Fund. If so moved, you can donate to the Spielman Fund here, it's truly a great cause.
AA: Your passion and intensity were hallmarks of your playing career, how do you channel that as a college football analyst?
Chris Spielman: I have the same attitude as when I was a player, it's a privilege to call college football games. I have so much respect for the players, coaches, and fans that it's my solemn duty to tell the truth and what I know is right and wrong and what I believe. Sometimes coaches or fans may get upset with your opinion, but I'd put my opinion up against anybody and challenge anybody to show me where I'm wrong. I did that as a player. Show me where I'm wrong and I'll fix it.
AA: Outside the BCS, which bowl matchup are you most looking forward to?
Spielman: Since I'm doing the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, the one I have the most interest in is Michigan-Kansas State. I think it's an interesting matchup, the fact that Michigan struggled at the end of the year and then turned it on against Ohio State. And although he may not be the most interesting guy in the world, Coach Snyder does a wonderful job of coaching and it's amazing how whenever they lose players they keep coming back and coming back. It's probably the one I look most forward to, but I watch them all. I'm one of those guys that will sit there and watch bowl games no matter where they are, when they are, I'll find a way to get to a TV and check in on most of them.
AA: How important is the bowl game for Michigan and Brady Hoke after having a down year, but playing so well against Ohio State. Can they use this as a springboard into next year?
Spielman: It's very important for them, and I know a lot of people are restless for Coach Hoke. They just have to figure some things out. They really struggled against MSU and Nebraska offensively, then they got back on track against Ohio State. He can get it turned around, and they have to get it turned around.