An old Japanese proverb says if you wait by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by. Wise words, but we didn't feel like waiting. So we sent him an email instead. Luckily, Bob Kravitz was kind enough to write us back.
Bob is the featured sports columnist for the Indianapolis Star. He is also the co-host of Kravitz and Eddie airing weekdays from 3 to 6 pm on 1070 The Fan. Bob showed genuine class and agreed to answer 18 of our questions. It probably helped that he had no idea who we were.
1.) You were recently forced to write 8 consecutive columns about Purdue. How are you coping?
I'm heading to Purdue detox shortly after the Final Four. C'mon, it wasn't eight in a row, was it? If Purdue is the best column eight days in a row, I'll write it eight days in a row. I have no IU loyalties, except maybe to the hockey team and the J school.
2.) Being the main sports columnist in a one paper town gives you a giant bulls-eye on your back. What is it like having a job where no matter what you write (or how well you write it) a lot of people will hate you?
Being disliked is part of the job. I have very thick skin, which might be a hereditary thing. I come from a long line of thick-skinned people. What's important is that people are paying attention. They agree, they disagree, as long as they figure it's worth reading, that's what matters. My wife and kids like me. Generally.
3.) You have covered Elway and Manning. What do they have in common?
Elway and Manning. Aside from the fact both are great, they're very different guys as far as their public personas. (I'll never claim to know either guy on a deep or personal level). Elway was more of a guy's guy, didn't worry about how he was perceived, and as a quarterback he was mostly reliant on his athleticism. Peyton is more of a stickler for the details, very public-relations conscious, and obviously, as a QB he's all about the preparation and the mental part of the game. John was more than happy to grab beers with anybody and shoot the shit. Peyton is far more guarded. Maybe that's a function of living now in the internet world and having people with cell phone cameras around.
4.) You've met Tom Crean. Is he closer to becoming the next Billy Donovan or Billy Gillispie?
Crean is more Donovan than Gillispie. Not even a question. Gillispie had no people skills and lived his personal life recklessly, at least as far as I can tell from reading what's been written. Crean is a regular guy, wife and kids, very centered. He's charmed the pants off the fans and alums, which Gillispie failed to do. And he's brought in a Top 10 recruiting class for next year, which doesn't hurt.
5.) Wouldn't a team who wins 12 games despite averaging just 79 yards a game on the ground have to be considered overachievers?
A team that has Peyton Manning, Joe Addai, a highly paid offensive line and several top wide receivers is underachieving at 79 yards per game on the ground. That's horrendous. That's what doomed them this season. It's a testament to Manning that he was able to put together an MVP season when he had absolutely no running game.
6.) When you first arrived in town could you have envisioned a day when the Colts owned the city, everyone hated the Pacers, IU couldn't win 10 games, and the Boilers were advancing deep into March?
Well, when I got here, the Colts had already come off two pretty good season, and with Manning, it was just a matter of time before they made a run at a Super Bowl or two. As for the decline of the Pacers, no way you could have seen that coming. Same with IU and the brilliant decision to hire Kelvin. The Purdue success isn't that surprising. When I got here in the summer of 2000, the Boilers were still a very good team under Keady.
7.) Finish this sentence...The future of the Indianapolis 500 is _______
The future of the Indianapolis 500...is in Indianapolis. I just can't see them staging the race in Des Moines. Hell, I don't know. I think it's unclear. The race will always have gravitas and be the king of open-wheel racing, but it will not return to its old glory until the entire sport returns to prominence. And I don't see that happening in the near future.
8.) Do you think Tony Dungy is over-hyped? (Either as a person or as a coach.)
I think Tony Dungy is worthy of every kind word that's said about him as a coach and a person. I publicly wrote that I disagreed with his decision to come back, but that doesn't make him any less of a person in my eyes -- as if that matters. And I don't think it diminished me in his eyes. We've talked about it. Reasonable people can disagree.
9.) 10 years ago, the argument for multi-class basketball is that it would raise the general level of play in the state by encouraging success and subsequently participation. After a decade, how would you evaluate that claim? Is basketball in Indiana at the high school, and subsequently college level better or worse after 10 years of class hoops?
I'm gonna pass on that one, mostly because I wasn't here during the single-class days.
10.) Sell us on the Indy Star. Why should every Indy sports fan read it first thing in the morning?
Why read the Star? Well, what else are you going to read? Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of options. I wish we had two newspapers, even three. I wish we had a bunch of columnists, like we did in Denver. I wish there was more to choose from, more voices, more choices. The Star isn't the paper I want it to be -- nobody on the journalist side of things likes all the financial and personnel cuts -- but I think we do a decent job with limited resources.
11.) Was Lucas Oil Stadium a mistake?
Yes. Worse than building it, I hated the way the taxes were forced down our throats without any kind of public input or a vote. This city has bigger problems. If you can't pay for teachers and cops, you can't pay for a retractable roof.
12.) More people attend Indians games than Fever games on average. Far more people attend Indians games per season. Do you think the Star's coverage of the two teams is proportional to the fan interest?
First, I'll say I think we've shoved the Fever down people's throats, and if I had a say in it, we'd cut back on coverage. As for the Indians, I don't know that it's all predicated on fan interest. I think people go to the Indians the way they go to the zoo. It's a great experience, but I'm not sure people care very much whether they win or lose, who's on first, who's on third, do they have a left-handed middle reliever. I can only control what I write, and I would say that I've overemphasized the Fever and given the Indians short shrift. I'm hoping to change that in the coming summers.
13.) You questioned publicly Bob Sanders' effect on the Colts run defense and whether he wins games. How did Bob take that? Also tell us, what is the best way to prevent a zombie attack? Do you favor a shovel, a shotgun, boarding up the windows, finding a gypsy to undo her voodoo curse, or something else entirely?
I sensed that Bob didn't particularly appreciate the column. He was very short with the media the next couple of weeks. Whether that was because of my column or because of something else, I don't truly know. Just an observation. As for the zombie issue, if he seeks to consume my cerebellum, he might walk away hungry.
14.) You were right about Ron Artest. That really isn't a question, but I needed to get that off my chest: You were right about something.
I was also right about Kelvin Sampson. I was also right about dumping Edgerrin and drafting Joe Addai. I was also write the past three years in writing the Pacers wouldn't make the playoffs. I was right that Marvin Harrison was playing his final season as a Colt. I was right that Dungy wasn't coming back after this past season. I was right that Gene Keady was done and he had to be replaced with younger blood. Readers only remember when you're wrong. So I'll remind you when I'm right.
15.) Indy has a crowded sports radio scene from 3-6. Why should 1070 The Fan be the #1 preset on my dial?
Why 1070? Because we need the ratings. Actually, I'm thrilled that we have this radio competition in Indy. Wish we had it in the print press. The more voices, the better. With our show, I'll just say that Eddie and I come from two different directions and have a lot to say about things. We have our weaknesses, and as two radio novices, we're working hard to learn how to do a quality sports talk radio show. Remember, this is new to both of us. I did a little radio in Denver, but nothing like this. I think we give you some things that JMV doesn't. And I'm sure JMV's fans will tell you that JMV gives you things that Eddie and I don't. But that's great.
16.) Multiple choice: Jason Whitlock...
A. is a brilliant writer and social commentator
B. wishes he had your job
C. would be the most hated guy in town if he worked in Indy
D. needs to get over it. Jeff George ain't comin' back.
E, most of the above. Great social commentator, an important voice, but not a drop-dead great writer, in my humble estimation. I don't know if he wants my job. He makes a boatload of money in KC and does a lot of national stuff. The only lure here is that he's from here. Guess you'd have to ask him about that. We've never had that conversation. He definitely would be the most hated man in Indy. He'd also be the most read man in Indy. He's very polarizing, which all great columnists need to be. And yeah, on Jeff George, jeez, give it a break.
17.) Do you think Polian stares at you and Phil B. freezing your asses off outside the Colts complex while filming those video podcasts, and rubs his hands together with glee at your discomfort?
Podcasts. Did you have to bring up podcasts? I think Bill is too busy calling his national chums like Clayton and Mort to worry about two nobodies like me and Phil B.
18.) We have to know: Why are you the way you are?
How am I? Seriously.
So there you have it. Many thanks to Bob for his honesty, time, and generosity in doing this piece. Without him, we would certainly have a lot less to write about. He has given us a lot of fodder for discussion over the years, and I'm sure we'll have a good time with our readers discussing his thoughts here as well.Note: Bob had a follow up comment on one of his answers. Check it out here.