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A Conversation with ESPN's David Pollack

We sat down with ESPN's David Pollack at Chick-fil-A Media Days on Monday afternoon. It was extremely informal, but we got some great insight on his perspective on ESPN and College GameDay, the playoff system, and Johnny Manziel.


Good Bull Hunting: I know you watch a lot of film and study a lot of talent. How do you expect this game is going to flow? Can you talk about what to expect from A&M and Duke in this game?

David Pollack:

[On Manziel:]

Well, first of all, you expect anything with Johnny Manziel. I'm expecting craziness. The thing with Johnny, is I think he likes a big stage; I think he'll have a big stage. I expect him to play really well and I think he's healthier than he's been in a while so I expect him to do great.

[On Duke:]

The one thing I love about them when I watch them is that they're a bunch of guys who understand what they're supposed to do and how they're supposed to do it. You can't say that about a lot of teams that have great talent. The offensive line is very well-coached. They use their hands right; do all the little things. That's one thing that's gonna be fun to watch: it's like soldiers vs. improv.

GBH: A lot of people really enjoy the broadcasting y'all put together this year.

DP: Really?

GBH: Yeah! You and Jesse and Rece have good chemistry together on air. Can you talk a little bit about putting that team together and how important it is to have that chemistry?

Does a hundred pounds of flour make a big biscuit? -when asked if they make fun of Jesse Palmer's wardrobe

DP: I think it's cool because (and we talked about this after the Las Vegas Bowl we did together): we genuinely like each other. And that's what's really cool about it. I came in last year as the new guy, and just kind of learning where to be; what to do, what not to do, a lot of it too is learning your teammates too. I can look at the depth charts and things, and I know where Jesse's gonna go. I've learned over the last 2 years that he's gonna get all the stats, he's gonna get all the numbers. So I think my job is to be a little bit more spontaneous, a little bit different. Rece steers the ship and keeps everybody driving in the right direction. But we have so much fun with watching tape and just kicking around thoughts...we have a blast. I think people have fun when they watch us because we're just a bunch of knuckleheads: just three friends sitting around watching a game.

I think it's cool because we genuinely like each other. -on working with Jesse and Rece

GBH: I think that's a good point because as fans we appreciate that. That's exactly what we're doing when we're watching games. One of the things that gets me as a fan is that sometimes you'll have an announcer criticize a college player. First off, the kid is in college, and second off, if they were a player they probably weren't as good as this kid who's playing. So it's refreshing to have you as a three-time All-American, and Desmond (Howard) on GameDay, to get your perspectives because you've been in the spotlight. How has it been working on GameDay?

DP: It's been awesome. Been really cool too. I think one of the things you miss most about football, and every athlete will tell you when you hang up your cleats is you miss the locker room. You don't miss two-a-days, dude. I don't miss the hundred degrees two-a-days, sorry. I don't miss beating my brains in against another guy in practice over and over and over again. But you miss the camaraderie. You miss bustin' chops in the locker room with your boys. And so it's cool to have that again. After my Thursday night game, I fly Friday to GameDay, we meet all day, we do dinner, and we're just bustin' chops. And then Saturday we do the same thing: we do the show, then we watch all the games all day on the bus and we just bust each others' chops and make fun of each others' picks, and it's kind of like having that feeling of friendship and closeness you had when you played football.

GBH: So do you give Jesse any grief about the skinny ties?

DP: Does a hundred pounds of flour make a big biscuit? Of course we do. Oh my God, we crush him. We consistently crush him. I tell 'em all the time: if I don't want to talk, all I gotta do is put a quarter in Jesse, 'cause that sucker will go for days and days and days. No, there's nothing out of bounds. We bust each others' chops.

GBH: Earlier this year on GameDay, you kind of had one of your quotes taken out of context. Can you kind of talk about the learning experience around that? You're being honest, but sometimes it's taken out of context. Is that a challenge?

I think you learn how things work; how people respond. -on College GameDay

DP: I think it's an extreme challenge. I think that one of the things fans appreciate is that you'll be honest; that you'll be an open book. But sometimes when you do that you open yourself up for criticism, and I think you have to be willing to take the good with the bad. I think you learn how things work; how people respond, and I'm just gonna give you unfiltered, unbiased...whatever. And sometimes you're gonna like it and sometimes you're not.

GBH: And fans appreciate that. Along those lines...that controversy stemmed from the college football playoff and selection committee. And this year it's pretty much agreed that this year if we had the playoff, Alabama would be back in the playoff after losing to Auburn two weeks before. If you had to pick four teams in the playoffs this year, other than the two in the national championship game, who would they be?

DP: I think you have to put Alabama in there. And that's the thing: if you look at this BCS situation, you know what's amazing? Auburn has more SEC championships in the last four years than Alabama does. Alabama has one SEC title in four years. Think about that. But what they do, they're dominant most of the time, they do have games where they trip up, but they perform at such a high level that they continue to stay near the top, even if they lose. Thing is, everybody starts falling by the wayside, then it becomes "how did you lose?" And they lose on a 108-yard missed FG return. Or they lose in overtime to LSU 9-6 when they've missed four field goals. So it's tough, and I think they'd be back in there. And I think Michigan State would possibly be that fourth team. They had a lot to prove to me when they went up against Ohio State. I wanted to see them beat somebody, because they hadn't beaten anybody of quality all year (neither had Ohio State). So I think Michigan State would be up in there, Baylor would be up in there fighting for that fourth spot, but I don't have any doubts about Alabama being in there.

GBH: You played in the NFL for a few years, and you've watched a lot of film on Johnny. What do you think his pro prospects are now with offenses like (Chip) Kelly's in the NFL?

I'm a Waffle House guy. -David Pollack

DP: I think it will be interesting to monitor because his height is obviously a knock against him. I don't think he throws great on time. I don't think he's one of those guys who's a rhythm guy, three step drop, put it right where he needs to put it. But he's the best I've ever seen at improv, and the only player I could ever compare him to is Mike Vick for his ability to make people miss. He throws better than Vick: better touch, but not as much on his arm as Vick. I think he's going to get into a new system and I think how he learns it, how he adapts to it, he's going to continue to have to learn to throw from different platforms because of his height, but I think he has to get better throwing on time and being more scripted sometimes. You can go off the reservation: you can go crazy and make that big play, but I think you have to make those little plays too that sustain drives. And another thing is you have to cut out those red zone throw-it-up picks, but as far as his prospects, he's probably one of the more intriguing guys you'll see come out because he's got an uncanny ability to make people miss: it doesn't matter if it's a safety, a corner, it doesn't matter who it is. The 360 whirly-derby double-spins, I mean it's just...I've never seen a player that creative.

GBH: One more thing we have to ask: are you a Waffle House guy or are you an IHOP guy?

DP: I'm a Waffle House guy.