Erin Andrews Opens Up About Career, Family, Dancing and the Law
On Wednesday, she managed to squeeze in an appearance at the Outback Bowl's Trane ESPN Kickoff Luncheon, where she was the first female guest speaker in the bowl's 25-year history.
During her visit back to her hometown of Tampa, Andrews touched on several subjects. She was refreshingly candid – "Les Miles is sooooo lucky" - and funny about her Dancing With The Stars experience – "the hardest thing was getting 10 weeks of spray tan off my body" – and brutally honest about her lack of hockey knowledge when she was hired as a 22-year old TV sideline reporter for the Tampa Bay Lightning – "the night before I got the job I was reading 'Hockey For Dummies.' "
Candid, funny and brutally honest: that's Erin Andrews in a nutshell. But there's one more way to describe college football's best-known television personality. And that is ticked off.
"The (stalking) laws are ridiculous," Andrews told FanHouse. "Someone made the comment in Washington that stalking is where domestic violence was 10 years ago. People have to start taking it seriously."
In December, Michael David Barrett pleaded guilty to interstate stalking when he secretly shot nude videos of Andrews. Barrett received the maximum sentence of 2½ years in prison, which Andrews said at Barrett's sentencing was "not enough."
Andrews, 32, has made it a priority to be an advocate to get stronger laws passed against stalkers and video voyeurism.
"Selfishly it's helping me heal because I'm not better," Andrews said. "I have a lot more healing to do and I feel now, at this stage, that I'm really angry. I'm ticked off that this happened and I'm ticked off that there are situations going on in sports right now where my situation is being brought up.
"I'm trying to show people this is a crime and this is something that needs to be taken seriously. There's a lot of women that aren't in the public eye that it happens to that don't have the support and the help of law enforcement and legal attorneys that I did. I'm really trying to make this crime something that people take seriously, that don't laugh at it, don't download on the internet.
"The laws stink and they're a joke and they need to be strengthened."
Andrews is trying to change that. She spoke on Capitol Hill about the need for harsher laws.
"This was the first step, but there's so much more that has to be done," Andrews said. "It's just going to take a while. We're also seeing the effects of video voyeurism with what happened with the Rutgers student. Stuff has to change. I really, really want to be an advocate for all that kind of stuff.
"It's just the beginning. It's frustrating to me, because I wish it would move quicker, but as I'm learning in D.C. it takes forever."
Andrews, who also participates in the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and her sister Kendra are involved with "Abolish Cancer," which raises money in the fight against cancer. Their father Steve just beat prostate cancer last year. Chris Spielman, who lost his wife Stephanie to breast cancer, also has been a big inspiration for Andrews.
"The stuff I'm getting involved in is the stuff that really means a lot of me," Andrews said. "Chris lost his wife last year and I remember reaching out to him. I wanted to do something, I wanted to help. He said 'I don't want to force you, but you have a voice. People listen, so use it.'
"I feel it's my duty, my calling to do it."
At Wednesday's Outback Bowl function, Andrews participated in a question/answer session with the audience and also conducted several media interviews. Here are some of Andrews' responses to questions ranging from college football to Dancing With The Stars to her personal life.
How would you evaluate your performance anchoring College GameDay?
I'm very hard on myself. I'm very insecure. I just don't want to do a bad job. I want to look like I belong. I'm such a perfectionist and I get upset with stuff and I call (my producer). He's like 'I thought you did great.' I'm like 'no, I screwed this up.' I just want it to go well. (Chris) Fowler has to say to me a lot of the time 'I've had 20 years – 20 years – please don't try to compare yourself.' I respect those guys so much and I want to carry on the greatness. I don't want there to be any slack off when I sit up there.
Who is your national championship pick?
In my heart Alabama is the No. 1 team in the nation. If you look at what Alabama has had to do over the past couple of weeks; facing teams off bye weeks. I still think they are best in the nation. If an SEC team can't make it to the national championship, then Ohio State and Oregon.
Who is your Heisman Trophy favorite right now?
LaMichael James then Kellen Moore. I don't think Denard Robinson kissed it good-bye (last week). I think he's still there. If Terrelle Pryor goes off at Camp Randall Saturday, I think he'll be the front-runner.
Are you for a playoff?
I would love to work a playoff system, because it would probably be the most insane environment. At the same time, I know what a bowl experience is like so I'm kind of divided. I feel at the end, it all really works out. This year it may be different.
Favorite college venue, other than your alma mater Florida?
Texas, it's insane, sort of like Vegas. I enjoy going to LSU. Auburn is fun and Alabama.
Morgantown, West Virginia. Oh my gosh, they're nuts on a Thursday night. Are you kidding?
Defend the importance of sideline reporters.
Sideline reporters are needed for a couple of very important things. I don't think they're needed for the 'fluff' stories, everyone reads those stories all week long in the newspaper. I don't think they're needed for that. When they're needed – a prime example was when Dennis Dixon was leading the (2007) Heisman race, looks like Oregon's going to win the national championship then he blows out his knee. Oregon said he's OK. I'm down there watching, I'm reading the trainers' lips to him. The trainer starts crying. Right there and then I report it. I knew it was over. The guys upstairs in the booth, they didn't see that; the cameras didn't see that. The biggest thing sideline reporters bring are things the guys up there and the camera can't see.
Your thoughts on Florida.
It's a transition year. (Tim) Tebow's gone, Brandon Spikes is gone. Charlie Strong is gone. Dan Mullen is gone. I'm trying to say this so I don't get in trouble because everything ends up on the internet ... that's a lot when you have the heart and soul of your offense, you have the heart and soul of your defense and your D-coordinator gone. That's not just losing Tim Tebow as your quarterback. That's losing a lot of people.
Your thoughts on Florida State.
I did a feature (for Saturday's GameDay) with their O-line. I got to tell you from last year to this year, things are already different with the way practice is run, with the way guys are eating; the way Jimbo (Fisher) has them walking down the hall. It's like day and night (from when Bobby Bowden was there). I was joking with him (Fisher) the other day – 'as a Gators fan and as someone who loves the SEC I wish you weren't here.' Jimbo Fisher is going to get that program back. He's a little hesitant right now to have people say they're back. Their O-line are fit and they are freaks. They look good.
How will Nebraska do in the Big Ten?
Nebraska will raise the bar in the Big Ten. The problem with the Big Ten, it's always been Ohio State. It's been Michigan, Michigan State. Nebraska will raise – what Herbie (Kirk Herbstreit) likes to call 'the freak level' – the athletes. The guys that come in from the SEC; the freaks you have on defense (like) Jevon Kearse. Bo Pelini will go get those guys and will make things much more difficult for the other teams.
What are your thoughts about those who criticize attractive female reporters?
I think it's hilarious that you can't worry about getting your roots done, working out, worrying about what shoes you're wearing and have cool jewelry and know sports. I think it's weird you can't do those things. Why can't you worry about the way you look and also like sports? We (females) can multi-task, right? I used to harp on this – I want to prove to people that I know more, that I'm not here because of what I look like or that (it's because) I'm a female.
I think one of the things that taught me a lot about all the work I've done and the (working) relationships I have in the industry last year when I was going through the worst experience of my life (the stalking). I got phone calls from coaches – that I thought never really cared too much about me or gave a second thought – coaching me as their players. Saying 'you better get back on the sidelines, we want to see you on the sidelines. Don't let this idiot win. The game will not be all right unless you're working the sidelines' and that really proved to me ... I don't care what the naysayers say, I don't care what message boards have to say, I don't care what some media has to say, these coaches want me back. So I've proved to them, I know my stuff.
Do you consider it a problem dating other sports personalities?
I don't see that as a problem if it doesn't interfere with your profession, if you're not covering the person. I also think it's funny when people judge that – because a lot of people date or get married to somebody in their office.
Is it important for you to get married and have a family?
It's very important to me. It really wasn't before. I didn't really care. I was so focused on my career. But then I decided, you know what, I'm going to do as much as I can now so when it's time for me to settle down and have a life and have babies, I can't keep this traveling schedule up. I know if I have a family, I'm going to have to cut down. I'm hoping. I really, really am. I want a family. I see my co-workers with their kids wearing their alma mater jerseys. I want that. I can't believe I'm saying that, but I do.
What was a good part about Dancing With The Stars?
It made me forgot a lot of things that happened (with the stalking incident). The reason why I was there was to get away. It was amazing therapy. It sort of addressed a lot of my insecurities and made me face them – all doing this with this gorgeous man [Maksim Chmerkovskiy], who could shake it better than me.
What was your relationship with Max?
We never dated. He was kind of my protector; he loved being the protector. He took care of my sister [Kendra] and I. We called him our chaperone. He was our concierge. He knew the hot spots to go. He was perfect for me in that time in my life.
What about this year's Dancing With The Stars?
I love Jennifer Grey. I think she has been phenomenal. I'm always going to cheer for Max and Brandy, because Max means so much to me. I think Kurt Warner is just darling. I know he may not be as good technically as Rick Fox, but he is so genuine, he's trying so hard.
Brett McMurphy is a national college football writer for FanHouse. Contact him at email@example.com or please follow at Twitter.com/BrettmcmurphY