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The Underdog Podcast

Author: Kyle Decker & Calvin Blackmon

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Underdog (n): A competitor thought to have little chance of winning a fight or contest. The goal of this podcast is for us to share stories of failure & triumph through thoughtful & engaging conversation.

Everyone has an underdog story and we want to hear yours.
53 Episodes
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From a small town of 2000 people in Eastern Kentucky on the border of West Virginia, Dontae Wright lost his mother unexpectedly during his Freshman year of high school. While also not having a father and essentially raising himself, Dontae used sports as a catalyst to overcome racism and other adverse moments in his life.   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
College football, SEC games, Big 12 games – but held corporate jobs as well two total years as a professional football player – 10 in NFL & 2 in USFL Broadcasting started as a side hustle – what advice would you give? Find something you are passionate about. Look inside – if you are going to make the jump commit to it. Even though you like what you are doing still have to find a way to get it down – set a high bar. Preparation in your career – thirst for knowledge. You earn confidence when you feel like you are prepared. 8 hours of Bengal’s programming a week outside of the game. The best coach he ever played for – Paul Brown and Forest Grey
In this episode, we recap our first year! That’s right we have made it to 1 year. Enjoy some of our favorite moments across our first 49 episodes. This has been a long journey of learning and growing and we hope to see you continue along this journey with us.   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Coach Fickell is a firm believer in finishing what you started. He believes in building a team with a core group that speaks the same language. He also talks about the impact Coach Jim Tressel had on him and the importance of consistency and authenticity.   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
After a 23-year coaching career, winning more than 85% of his games and 3 National Championships, Urban Meyer is arguably one of the greatest college football coaches in history. In this episode Coach Meyer talks about his leadership philosophy E+R=O, how he would address the world if it were his team during the pandemic, and having an Above the Line mentality.   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Currently the defensive coordinator at UC – quickly rising to the top. Former OSU player – born and raised in the 937! Huber Heights Wayne – won a lot of games in high school be was raised by a military father.Played for 2 national championships at OSU – could On three teams in 1 year – knees hurting – found the enlarged heart and retired from NFL. Those failures are what make you who you are. Called coach Fickle to get feedback before he foundCoach Fickle recruited him and told him he didn’t want to coach – I don’t want to be away from the game. Talk them out because it’s a selfish profession – a lot of hours – time away from family – he has 6 kids and his wife is a single parent while he is coaching.Why UC? He wants to be a head coach – he can get the chance to be a head coach at schools such as Kent State or Purdue.Jim Trussell – work where your butt is – work as hard as you can. Coach Trussell - “He did a great job of making everyone feel important.”Learned more about coaching & leadership by failing.George Floyd – what is your message to the players and what is UC’s approach – Sent a message to his unit to maintain humility – have empathy. We don’t have to agree but we do have to have empathy. Do research to understand. Kids these days want to understand why. The greatest motivation is love. Love is also a decision. He even dishes on his predictions on the 2020 UC Bearcats Football season.    Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
After blowing out his knee the last game of his senior year, Ryan Kelly didn’t know what the future had in store.  Two things he did know was that resilience and character would see him through!  Having the foresight to maximize his opportunity, Ryan is now one of the youngest and greatest leaders in his profession.  Football fan or not – you’ll love this episode!   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
In 1972 a little boy was born and immediately put up for adoption. This week’s guest might have the most dramatic and heartwarming story we or anyone else has ever had the pleasure of sharing. Our guest, Deland McCullough was adopted and raised in Youngstown, OH.  Football wasn’t just a thing to Deland, it was the thing that allowed him to escape all hardships he was facing. In true underdog fashion, Deland wasn’t the star athlete from the beginning. He worked hard and had passion. Heck, he even enrolled in the Navy because he wanted out of Youngstown so badly. His break came when he was recruited by Miami University, more specifically, Sherman Smith (remember that name, it will hold great importance later).  Deland continued to be the underdog fighting hard to earn his position which ultimately leads to a record-breaking career for him at Miami.   He met adversity yet again when he went undrafted in 1996. He joined the Cincinnati Bengals and in true Deland spirit was fighting for his position until an unfortunate knee injury resulted in several surgeries. He recovered and joined the Philadelphia Eagles, but never saw any regular season playing time. He made his last attempt in the Canadian league with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers before retiring as a player. He had no idea who his father was when he started his coaching career in 2000, but always stayed in touch with his mentor, Sherman Smith. He finally reconnected with his biological mother in 2017, only to find out that his father was his mentor, Sherman Smith. Yes, the same Sherman Smith who recruited him out of Youngstown, OH. Can you imagine his disbelief?  Now a very humble running backs coach for the Kansas City Chief’s, he leads with control and confidence. He is very invested in the people that make up his teams. Success comes in many forms, but for the NFL the crowning achievement is the Superbowl Championship, which Deland can name proudly add to his resume.  He is also a proud husband and father of four young men; One of which is following in his footsteps and making his way at Miami University. We are so grateful for the opportunity to share this story with you, Underdog Nation!   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is former GM of both the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals. Currently, Jim Bowden is an MLB Analyst and Insider for CBS Sports HQ, writer for The Athletic, Talk Show Host for SiriusXM’s MLB Radio, and Fantasy Alarm.   Born and raised in Massachusetts, Jim shares how his love of sports and a little bit of luck landed his first job with the Pittsburgh Pirates.    In his words, “getting rid of my mouth and getting a third ear” is what led to his success. Early in his career, he was challenged with tasks outside his skill set or knowledge base, but he figured it out by asking questions with an authentic desire to learn. The hours, days, weeks, even years that lead to his first go-round as GM was spent doing just that, learning.   Jim has been able to sustain his success because he is always preparing for plan B. He was one of these first GMs to leave baseball and switch to the broadcasting side of the sport offering fans a unique perspective on the game.   He even dishes on a few very unique family traditions he and his sons have completed every year for the last couple of decades.   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week, Joe Oliver needs no introduction to all of our baseball fans and of course Reds nation! Joe had one of the most pivotal at-bats in the Cincinnati Reds history, clinching Game 2 of the World Series ultimately leading to the 1990 World Series victory! Joe caught over 12,000 documented innings between the major and minor leagues, not to mention all of the countless practices and pull pen sessions. After his 19-year career, Joe took 13 years off to raise his children and be a family man. Joe talks about everything from the culture of the 1990’s Red’s team to coaching and his professional future. Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is Merril Hoge. Some may know him for his time in the NFL as a running back for both the Pittsburgh Stealers and the Chicago Bears. Or for his 20+ year career as an ESPN announcer, but we’ve come to know him as our daily inspiration. If you follow him on social media, you will understand. He spent almost 8 years in the NFL before his career came to a screeching halt. Improper care of a head injury forced him into retirement. Although his love for the game continued as an on-air analyst for ESPN, his life was forever changed. Now he uses his platform to inspire others through times of adversity including another difficult time in his life, kicking cancers ass. We are sure this episode will inspire you to take advantage of the life you should be living.   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
For those of you who don’t know him, we promise you won’t be disappointed! Gary Owen’s life has provided him with a ton of content to say the least. His comedic approach to overcoming adversity is something we should all lean on right now! Growing up in a trailer park in Cincinnati, OH, he joined the US Navy after graduation and served as a Master-At-Arms before starting his career as a comedian. He speaks openly about his family affairs and the many struggles he has had to overcome throughout his life. Gary was named “Funniest Serviceman in America” after only one year of doing stand-up and won a contest to be named “Funniest Black Comedian in San Diego.” He has made appearances in several films, had a show on BET, The Gary Owen Show, and released several comedy specials namely his latest #DoinWhatIDo released in 2019. Take a break and laugh with us a little. You deserve it! Follow Gary on Social Media: Instagram: @garyowencomedy Twitter: @garyowencomedy Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast  
Our guest this week is head football coach, Chuck Martin.  With the odds stacked against him, Coach Martin left a success team at Norte Dame to take over an 0-12 Miami University program in 2014. Coach speaks to his decision informing host, Kyle Decker and Calvin Blackmon (both former Miami Redhawks football alum) that there is a fine line between courageousness and foolishness. Although financially he took a hit, three things that went into his decision: Miami’s tradition – the Cradle of Coaches & the opportunity to turn around one of proudest programs in the country His drive to be a head coach again His family – Oxford really suited his family When he started preparation for his first season it was the hurtles off the field that were most apparent. No one was talking to each other. He spent the first 1-2 years working on structure with weekly meetings and coming together on a central goal. Coach Martin himself was a two-sport athlete and admits that he played because he loved the game and looks for that same passion in his coaching staff and new recruits. When it comes to adversity, he embraced the unpredictable pandemic by challenging his coaches to figure out how to support the athletes. He encouraged his coaches get creative with Zoom meetings. Focusing on safe workouts at home and community service. They started a reading program and pushed the team to get out of their comfort zone by connecting with those in isolation at a local retirement community. He also jumped right into recruiting.   The 4 things Coach Martin looks for in a recruit: Find kids that want to play Love for the game - You don’t always win Interest in getting a Miami education Lastly, a desire to be coached We think these four points go beyond the gridiron. Thank you, Coach Martin! Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is Megan Duffy head coach for Marquette University women’s basketball team. She reminisces about high school days with our host, Calvin (they both attended Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in Dayton, OH). Her love for the game started young. Her high school coach put her in situations regularly where she wouldn’t always be able to find success allowing her to grow her leadership skills and develop her grit. Her senior year her team was number one in the nation and she tore her ACL. This devastating injury opened her eyes to the mental side of the game.  She ultimately went on to play college ball at Notre Dame and continued to work hard at not only her skill but her leadership.  She was recently named Big East Coach of the Year. She is now coaching young women on and off the court on how to leave their MARQ.   Apologies for the sound quality issue. We had a failure with our main recording and had to resort to the zoom recording audio.   Follow Megan on Social Media: Twitter: @CoachMeganDuffy Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is the head football coach, Neal Brown. Currently, he calls Morgantown, West Virginia home, but that isn’t where his journey started. After graduating from college, he was unsure of where his professional career would lead him. He accepted a grad assistant position at the University of Massachusetts, his alma matte, and knew within months that coaching was what he needed to be doing. Recent events led to a tweet by Coach Brown: Be a Light which was inspired by a song written by country artist, Thomas Rhett. It includes a screenshot of the notes he took on his phone regarding the death of George Floyd and the topic of social injustice. Coach Brown explains that his message to the team was simple: Hate can’t win. Coach Brown developed a program called the 5th Quarter. This program concentrates on the development of the young men off the field. It includes a focus on character, leadership, and career development as well as discussing real-life (financial literacy, personal branding, cooking), and responsibility (current issues and community engagement).  We love that Coach Brown believes football is more than a sport; he believes it is a tool he was given to be able to develop young men.  Follow Coach Brown on Social Media: Facebook: @NealBrownWVU Instagram: @nealbrown_wvu Twitter: @NealBrown_WVU  Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week, Chris Herren has been sober since August 1, 2008. He had his first drink at the age of 12 and was addicted to drugs by the age of 18.   Growing up Chris’s desire to fit in lead him to the partying scene in high school which he recalls as just, “doing what all the other kids were doing” or so he thought. Surprisingly, through the drinking and the drugs, his natural athleticism and his fear of failure are what pushed him to make a career of basketball. He worked hard to made it to the NBA, he had a wife and kids and almost lost it all. After being arrested, overdosing and a few other tragic events that unfortunately are common in the life of an addict, he finally hit his rock bottom and started to work towards getting sober. He is now a motivational speaker using the brand name Herren Talks allowing him to share his story and generate raw necessary conversations. He is also the founder of the Herren Project which helps individuals and family members find treatment or support. He is also proud of Herren Wellness which is a holistic residential treatment facility focused on assisting men and women with recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, we encourage you to reach out using one of the resources listed below. Please, get help. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it National Helpline 1-800-622-HELP (4357) Social:  Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/chrisherren24/ LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-herren-333381178/ Twitter – @c_herren - https://twitter.com/c_herren @HerrenTalks - https://twitter.com/herrentalks @herren_wellness - https://twitter.com/herren_wellness Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/c_herren_/  https://www.instagram.com/herrentalks/ YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYtRxEKlfIL9MRWcj_TGblw Website - https://herrentalks.com/about/ Herren Wellness - https://herrenwellness.com/
Our guest this week is Brian Zachary Pillman, the son of the late Brian William Pillman the American Professional Wrestler. Brian faced adversity at the age of 4 with the death of his father. He was raised by his Aunt Linda and “Uncle” Mike who he gives praise to for helping to shape his life. Brian took the traditional route by completing his formal education and accepting a corporate job, but he felt he needed more.    Follow Brian on Social Media: Instagram: @flyinbrian41 Twitter: @FlyinBrianJr  Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
First-generation college graduate, Joe Coniglio has fought his way to achieving a successful football career. After graduating from college, he wasn’t sure exactly where his career would go, but it was his desire to find his passion and purpose in life that allowed him to embrace every situation. Joe is currently the Outside Linebackers and Defensive Recruiting Coordinator at Kent State University. He believes the past and future success of his team starts with their head coach who brings a clear vision; Flash FAST is what they live by. Fun – team bondingAccountable – player lead team – coaches must show up and be the standard – mutually invest in each other to create the brotherhoodSmart – take care of each other on and off the fieldTough – must be willing to fight & grind Joe also discusses extreme ownership, how change is always possible, relationships, and embracing where you are. There is so much depth in this episode, you may need to pause, rewind, or listen again!   Follow Joe on Social Media: Linkedin: Joe Coniglio Twitter: @CoachConiglio51   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast
Our guest this week is 25-year Austin Hatch who will undoubtedly stop you in your tracks and encourage you to be grateful for everything you have.  He survived not just one plane crash, but two. Tragedy struck during both crashes ultimately resulting in every single member of his family dying. It is a true miracle that he was able to survive. He discusses the road to recovery and how he was able to persevere. While he does admit to suffering from survivors’ guilt, he chose to focus on controlling what he could control to make it through.  Austin went on to play basketball at the University of Michigan and is now a motivational speaker. He wakes up every morning with one goal; To make his family proud. Follow Austin on Social Media: Twitter: @AustinHatch30 Linkedin: Austin Hatch   Follow The Underdog Podcast on Social Media: Twitter: @UnderdogPod Instagram: @underdog_pod Facebook: The Underdog Podcast  
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