One half of ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning," Mike Greenberg also anchors "SportsCenter" and has written a New York Times best-seller ("Why My Wife Thinks I'm an Idiot"). Now Greeny adds another title to his resume: game show host. Starting Monday, Dec. 17, 8 p.m., he presides over ABC's six-night gaming event "Duel," which pits 24 different contestants in a head-to-head tournament for a jackpot worth as much as $2 million.
MF: There seems to be a glut of game shows on TV right now. What sets Duel apart?
MG: I can tell you in all sincerity, it is completely unique. It is nothing like any game show I've ever watched, and I've been a fan of game shows all my life. One of the first and foremost differences is that one person, and only one, is guaranteed to win the money. How many people actually win a million dollars on "Deal or No Deal?" Someone will be walking away with well over one million dollars. Not only will one win it, but only one can win it. It sets up a single elimination competition, like March Madness, and establishes a heightened level of competition between the contestants. Another unique element is the poker element. It combines the trivia with a World-Series-of-Poker-esque strategy.
What kinds of trivia questions were asked? Is there one in particular that stumped even you?
Runs the gamut from pop culture to US history to geography to science. There's a little bit of sports, which maybe they did for my benefit so that I'll feel comfortable. I would say the overwhelming majority of them stumped even me. I would suggest to you that I didn't know almost any of them. The questions are tough!
The show has 24 contestants, 24 different personalities, like a punk rocker, a beauty queen, and a Harvard grad. From that eclectic pool, who surprised you the most?
Everybody surprised me. Contestants choose who they want to play, and all you know about that person is what they do for a living. So you just might pick a belly dancer, who you don't find out until you've chosen her to compete against you, has a 4.0 GPA and is on the verge of completing her PhD in nuclear physics! The people who cast the show did a great job of picking contestants who shatter a lot of stereotypes. It's a lot of fun to see.
You're a sportscaster. An author. Ever in a million years dream that you'd be hosting a game show?
Well, I don't know if I thought I would, but I'm thrilled to do it. I love game show; I watched them religiously when I was growing up. My only request was I asked if I could carry a skinny microphone like Gene Rayburn used to on "Match Game," but the producers thought it wouldn't go along with the high-tech, glitzy set. So my only disappointment with the "Duel" experience is not being able to carry that skinny "Match Game" mic. My favorite game show of all time is "Match Game." I loved "Family Feud" with Richard Dawson. I love "Jeopardy" to this day. I loved "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" I like game shows where it takes some intelligence and talent to win. No disrespect to shows like "Deal or No Deal."
Random question: Which Mike in the Morning (you or Golic) would win in a duel?
Oh my god, that would be like Bobby Fisher playing chess with Jessica Simpson. Let the record show this will be the only time Golic is compared to Jessica Simpson.
I wanted to get your thoughts on a couple of intriguing sports "duels" coming up. For each college football bowl game, could say a few words as to what you think will happen, which team you think will win, that sort of thing?
Duel #1: Arkansas vs. Missouri, Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1, 10:40 a.m., FOX)
I think Missouri's anger plays a role. They should have a huge day because they got so completely screwed in not getting to play in a BCS bowl game. And Arkansas—who knows, with Houston Nutt leaving, and the new coach coming in under such incredible controversial circumstances, as it is with Bobby Petrino, I don't know what to except. But to me, Darren McFadden is the best player in college football. I'll pick the team that has the best player on the field, so I'll go with Arkansas.
Duel #2: Florida vs. Michigan, Capital One Bowl (Jan. 1, 1 p.m., ABC)
The fact that it's Lloyd Carr's final game should provide a lot of motivation. They've had such an up-and-down season, they can erase a lot of the bad memories by playing tough in a big game. But Florida has Heisman winner Tim Tebow, and the Gators are the better team, and I'll be surprised if the better team doesn't win.
Duel #3: Sugar Bowl: Hawaii vs. Georgia (Jan. 1, 2008, 8 p.m., FOX)
I'm thrilled to see Hawaii get a chance to play in a BCS bowl. I think it's good for college football that a school like that gets a shot. But they're not as good as Boise State was a year ago, and Georgia is better than Oklahoma was a year ago, so I don't think we'll get another miracle finish.
Duel #4: Fiesta Bowl: OU vs. WVU (Jan. 2, 2008, 8 p.m., FOX)
I really think West Virginia is going to have a tough time bouncing back. You wanna talk about blowing it? That was a team that had set up as set up can be to play for the national championship. My gut feeling is those teams don't bounce back and play angry, they play deflated. Oklahoma is a team that thinks it should be playing for the title, and I think ultimately they'll win.
Duel #5: The BCS National Title Game, Ohio State vs LSU (Jan. 7, 2008, 8 p.m., FOX)
I am a proud alumnus of a Big Ten institution, but even the most ardent fan of Ohio State could not make an argument that this team accomplished much of anything other than not play anyone this year and thus not losing more than once. LSU played in what's overwhelmingly the best conference in the country, I think they are the best team in the country, and they will win.
Any other interesting sports duels coming up you'd like to comment on?
I want to see if anyone can give the New England Patriots a duel! Can anyone actually make that team work for it in the post-season, and I'm not convinced anyone will. If they stay healthy, this is the best team I've ever seen. So no one will give them a duel worth remembering. I hope I'm wrong, but that will be my guess.
Last question: Does your wife still think you're an idiot?
YES! And if we talk again this time next year, the answer will still be yes!
DUEL airs Monday, Dec. 17, through Sunday, Dec. 23, 8 p.m. on ABC.