NCAA March Madness: CBS Sports’ John Schriffen Talks Tournament, Greg Gumbel

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While you’re watching the NCAA Tournament, make sure to pay attention to CBS Sports’ John Schriffen.

He knows things! 

You can catch Schriffen at today’s West Regional games between No. 4 Florida State (27-7) vs. No. 13 Vermont (27-6) and No. 5 Marquette (24-9) vs. No. 12 Murray State (27-4).

You can also catch him in the South Regional game between No. 6 Villanova (25-9) vs. No. 11 St. Mary’s (22-11).

A graduate of Dartmouth College, Scriffen has had stints at News 12 and ABC News before landing at CBS Sports.

Schriffen recently discussed year two covering the NCAA Tournament and his inspirations in broadcasting.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: You’re the new kid…

John Schriffen: Yeah.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: How does it feel?

John Schriffen: It feels great, I mean everyone has welcomed me with open arms and given me some really good advice about what to expect, what to look out for, so I can’t wait to get going.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Tell me a little bit about your background.

John Schriffen: So I have a sports background, I played baseball when I was at Dartmouth college. I did radio for the school and then I transitioned into news, I was on Good Morning America with ABC News and then I’ve recently come back to CBS sports in the past three years. So I cover college basketball, college football, NFL, and I’m excited to get the call-up to be on the tournament now.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: You’re young, it’s an old man’s game. How have you been able to blend in with some of the people who have been doing it for years?

John Schriffen: I think the biggest key is to listen, you know when you get on a game with Bill Raftery who’s a legend in the business, you go out to dinner the night before with him and you just listen, you just sit back and take in the stories and get the advice from him, and learn from so many of the people who’ve been in the game for so long. I think a lot of young people make the mistake of wanting to prove themselves and what they can do right away… I think once the light goes on and the camera goes on people can see what your ability is. But before that, it’s up to you to soak in the knowledge from the all the people who’ve been there before you. And I think that’s what I’ve done and that’s what’s been able to help me in my career.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Who did you grow up liking, in the broadcast game?

John Schriffen: Greg Gumbel and the Gumbel brothers… they were my idols growing up I mean, guys that looked like me, guys that were you know polished, were front and center. Those were two of the guys I always wanted to be like… and it’s now an honor to be working beside. Actually I did Missouri Valley conference game the other night and Greg Gumbel was in studio and then threw it out to me on site and I threw it back to him for the first time in my career. So it was like, a kid moment for me, a dream come true.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: What was the best piece of advice you ever received? Throughout, I guess, your childhood.

John Schriffen: So when I was in college, I did an internship at PTI (Pardon the Interruption). And the Executive Producer of the show, Erik Rydholm, he said to me, “This may sound silly and it may sound basic, but never do a job just for money.” And when you’re in college and you’re seeing your friends go on to do big time things; investment banking, doctor, lawyer, whatever it may be… it’s hard to not want to go right after money right after college. What I’ve found that that was the best piece of advice, because once you realize that and you follow what your passion is, and you truly go after what it is that you want, success will come and the money will come. If you follow the money right away, you’ll find yourself in a position where you might not love what it is that you do and you’re just following something just for the money.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Before CBS, where were you?

John Schriffen: So before CBS I was at ABC News. At ABC News it was awesome because I was able to do news-stories but I also did a lot of the crossed-over sports stories… which was great. Like when I was in Houston I got to do the NBA All Star Game, I covered a lot of the cross-over. I did the Aaron Hernandez story, that unfortunate story… and so I got to do a lot of the sports stories that crossed over into news and so that was kind of my role when I was at ABC News.

Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Why I ask is because, I feel like a lot of times people wanna dive right into sports, how is your experience in news (breaking news, trending news) helped your ability to cover sports?

John Scriffen: For sure, so when I got out of college I actually started my career in sports… I was a sports anchor at News 12 in the Bronx, and it was great but I was the fourth sports anchor in a department of four people. So I was low man on the totem pole and it was a time when local departments were basically cutting back. But I had a great news director who said, “There’s something there, I wanna keep you in here but it might not be in sports. Would you try out news?” So I tried out news and I loved it, and the great thing about covering news or being able to cover news is that just like sports, it’s unpredictable.. anything can happen. And when you do news for a long time and you’re used to being thrown into situations where the unpredictable happens, you’re kind of used to handling any kind of situation that’s thrown your way. And that’s what helped me I think in my career.

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