STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is becoming a talk show host.
The Hall-of-Famer is not giving up his day job as coach of the 11-time national champion Huskies, but has added a side job interviewing sports figures, authors, actors, and anyone else he finds interesting for a new podcast called “Holding Court with Geno Auriemma.”
”I just enjoy talking about things other than this, my team, my job,” Auriemma said. ”So I thought this would be a great opportunity to see how many different conversations I could have that are maybe a little bit different than what you would get in a newspaper.”
So far, he’s recorded three podcasts, including chats with Tiger Woods and Charles Barkley. The first episode, with Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving of and former UConn star Sue Bird of the Seattle Storm, was released last week. Another with Woods was released Friday.
Auriemma chats with the point guards for more than an hour about everything from basketball (recruiting enticements, becoming a first-round pick, Irving’s decision to come to Boston) to Irving’s recent questioning of whether the earth is actually round.
The 63-year-old coach, who is known for his acerbic sense of humor, gets into that topic by saying he might not have emigrated from Italy as a child had he realized, like Irving, that the earth was flat.
”I hope I can ask questions that maybe someone might not want to ask,” Auriemma said. ”You know, ‘Tiger you were the greatest player that ever lived in the year 2000. So, hey, I’m the best player who ever lived, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to change my swing. You want to explain that?”’
Auriemma said he’s hoping to get on athletes for future shows. The idea, he said, is to explore what makes successful people tick.
UConn’s players and former players say they aren’t surprised their coach is branching out in that direction.
”He’s a freaking celebrity and everyone wants to talk with him,” said star forward Katie Lou Samuelson. ”It’s kind of how he is. He gives these speeches all the time and what he says is actually what he believes. So maybe I’ll listen to it, at least when my favorite guests are on.”
Auriemma’s podcast was launched, by coincidence, a day after former UConn star-turned broadcaster Rebecca Lobo started a podcast of her own with her husband, sports writer and author Steve Rushin.
Lobo said Aurimma’s sense of humor, his intelligence and his curiosity make him a natural for the podcast world. But she noted that his tendency to be outspoken also could get him in some trouble.
”But that could be what makes this good, right?” she said. ”He’s is just so interesting that I think the podcast will be really interesting.”
Lobo’s podcast “Ball & Chain” deals with the humor of marriage, family and relationship issues. She said, while their podcasts are very different, there could eventually be some crossover with her former coach.
”I don’t know if he’d ever want me on his podcast, but I could totally see having him and Kathy (his wife) together come on ours to talk about marriage and one another’s annoying habits,” she said.