The Schwab got stumped

By By Natalie Dicou

By Natalie Dicou

There I was, making the most of my Christmas Break, sprawled out on the couch, engrossed in a “Stump the Schwab” marathon on ESPN Classic when I found myself utterly appalled.

Let me back up: The Schwab, if you’re curious, is the greatest sports trivia specialist the world has ever seen.

He’s like “Jeopardy” phenom Ken Jennings, but instead of state capitals and Russian czars, he knows Joe DiMaggio’s batting average for every year he played and probably the brand of jock strap he wore.

Schwab comes across as a below-average man in nearly every other regard. “Nondescript” is about the only word I can think of to describe the guy. He’s white, middle-aged and is not the least bit charming. Sadly, he is only slightly more attractive than Gregg Popovich.

To his credit, Schwab, though rather lifeless as a TV personality, has parlayed his vast sea of knowledge into a game show in which he is challenged each episode by three cocky sports enthusiasts who think they have what it takes to outwit the famed Schwab.

The contestants, strangely enough, are always essentially the same person–blandly jockish Wall Street types of varying height. As a rule, the shorter the contestant, the more bitterly competitive.

Schwab is rarely beaten. He knows all. If it happened in the NFL, he knows. If it happened in college sports, he knows. If it happened in 1910, he knows. Hell, if it happened at the Canadian National Dodgeball Championships, I wouldn’t bet against “Schwabbie”–that’s what host Stuart Scott calls him. The point: He knows his s***.

It got me wondering if Schwab is some sort of sporting idiot savant–the type of guy who can’t tie his own shoes but can rattle off the names of Heisman trophy winners like he’s reciting his ABCs.

This is all leading up to why I was so appalled.

So, I’m on my fourth episode and the question to start the show (it starts out easy and gets more difficult) is: Name the 16 winningest NBA playoff coaches of all time. I’m thinking, wow, that’s a pretty easy one. This should be no problem?

The four players–Schwab and his challengers–take turns thinking of coaches. The names pour out.

“Lenny Wilkins?Phil Jackson?Red Auerbach…Pat Riley?”

If Schwab or a contestant can’t name someone or answers incorrectly, that player is disqualified.

After about 10 or 12 names, the guys start to scratch their massive heads.

I’m sitting there thinking: It’ll come to them. These dudes know everything about sports. I mean, seriously, they’re statistical freaks. They’ll say Jerry Sloan.

Not one guy said Sloan.

The Schwab himself was stumped! On Jerry freaking Sloan! A guy still in the league! It’s not like he coached in the ’60s! He’s still coaching!

With the exception of the last couple of years, Sloan has led the Jazz to the playoffs for nearly two straight decades.

After it was clear that all four guys were stumped, Stuart Scott said something like, “Ever heard of a guy named Jerry Sloan?”

The contestants slapped their heads. Duh.

Poor Jerry Sloan. He’s the fourth-winningest coach in NBA history and he can’t get any love. Not even from the great Schwab.

Sloan has spent his career toiling in the tiny NBA market of Salt Lake City. If he had coached the Knicks, he’d be a legend.

Underappreciated in his time, Sloan–whose weathered face resembles that of a hardened soldier–should and will be named Coach of the Year for the first time in his career at the end of this season.

Maybe old Schwabbie’s not so smart after all.