Howie Schwab’s heart does not pump blood.
Instead, the 57-year-old Long Island native has St. John’s athletics coursing through his veins.
Schwab, who rose to fame as ESPN’s resident sports information expert for nearly 30 years, graduated from St. John’s in 1982 with a degree in athletic administration, long before the days of dorm halls and the D’Angelo Center. His fondest memories of Queens do not sprout from idling around campus, but emerge from the frenzied nights working for the Torch and other student-run media outlets, such as WSJU, the campus radio station.
“I remember going on a Monday night to Providence to a game, and then coming back and sitting in the office at four in the morning typing a story, and then at eight o’clock going to class without any sleep,” Schwab said. “And that was fun.”
After graduation, Schwab built his reputation as the ruler of research over a 26-year career at “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” where he eventually became as beloved by viewers as he was by his colleagues. Schwab almost single-handedly started ESPN’s research department, according to former Sportscenter host Dan Patrick.
“When we were doing Sportscenter, in its heyday, and [Schwab] was doing research, before research departments,” Patrick said on his radio show. “I remember when there would be a home run, and Howie would get the information. You could hear him running because he always had change in his pockets.”
Schwab worked his way to the other side of the camera, appearing as the “Couch Potato” on morning programs such as First Take and spawned his own trivia show, “Stump the Schwab,” a game show that pitted three contestants against Schwab’s wealth of knowledge.
The popular, yet short-lived, program was hosted by famed ESPN broadcaster Stuart Scott, who passed away in 2015.
“Stuart was a great, great human being,” Schwab said. “We had so much fun on the set. I remember one time Stuart did almost like a gymnastics thing on the set. They ended up getting a stand-in who was a gymnast and they did this little bit as if I did a cheerleader routine. It was hysterical.”
The decades of wearing multiple hats for one of the most recognizable brands in the world crashed to a halt in 2013, when Schwab was one of the hundreds laid off by ESPN. The company has done the same to similarly-popular personalities such as Ed Werder, Marc Stein and Jayson Stark
He had harbored strong feelings against ESPN for years, but Schwab said that he’s ready to move on.
“I had a great time [at ESPN],” he said. “Unfortunately they made changes in their philosophy, and most of their moves have been financially motivated, and so be it.”
The unceremonious exit left Schwab in the lurch. He bounced around between freelancing gigs, creating his own blog and podcast, reunited with Patrick as a consultant on Sports Jeopardy and even served as the statistics assistant for college basketball guru Dick Vitale — or getting back to his roots.
Now, though, Schwab is making his return to the limelight as a college hoops analyst for ESPN’s main rival, FOX Sports. He’s already back to pumping out the brainy content that one would expect from “the Sultan of Stats.”
Case and point: his “College Hoops Stock Report,” a short video that dishes out basketball knowledge like a financial adviser would about shares and equity. It’s erudite in concept, and even more so in production, which Schwab says takes a plethora of factors into account, just like the rest of his duties at FOX.
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) November 28, 2017
“[I’ll] basically be discussing teams that should be in the tournament, teams that are going to sweat it out, breaking down everything,” Schwab said. “I watch a lot of college basketball. It’s fun to be able to enjoy so much college basketball.”
As Schwab settles into his new role, it would be easy to lose the Red Storm in the middle of the madness. He’s moving out to Los Angeles with his new wife, Suzie, and will be surrounded yet again by a world of information.
But just as he’s shown throughout his entire career, there are things that just stick in Schwab’s brain, and one of those things will always be St. John’s.
“I love rooting for St. John’s sports,” he said. “I’m really proud of St. John’s.”