Heather Cox is at the top of her game—and everyone else's. She is a premier network sports reporter and analyst, broadcasting from high-profile matches and quizzing the planet's elite athletes and coaches. Viewers know her best as the ABC/ESPN sideline reporter at NBA and WNBA college basketball broadcasts, and as the go-to sideline reporter of ABC's primetime NCAA college football game of the week. Cox has one scoop she can't share, however... at least not yet. The Internet is abuzz with rumors about a major deal she is about to ink with another network—after being with ESPN for 22 years—but when asked about it, she just smiles.
Anyone who thinks Cox isn't one of the toughest interviewers in her business isn't paying attention. Between assignments, she sat down with Boise Weekly to talk about sports, what's on her bucket list and why she, along with her husband and children, call Boise home.
How often do you and your family reevaluate your choice to live in Boise?
Never. We want to be here forever.
When did you make that choice?
In 2000. My husband, Bill, owns his public relations business and he can do that from anywhere. As long as I'm near an airport, I can be anywhere.
How many days do you spend on the road?
You'll laugh, but I refuse to keep track. I could figure it out pretty quickly, but I don't.
Give me a sense of your schedule during college football season.
Travel arrangements on Sunday. Monday, it's a production team conference call. Tuesday and Wednesday, we focus on the away team's coaches and top players. I spend most of the day travelling on Thursday. We're focusing on the home team—coaches and players—all day on Friday. We have a bigger production team meeting Saturday morning, we're at the stadium by 4 p.m., then there's the primetime broadcast and I'm traveling back home on Sunday.
I would be remiss if I didn't ask about the man who's up in the broadcast booth during most of those games: Mike Tirico. [He recently announced he would be joining NBC as the play-by-play man for Thursday Night Football.]
As perfect a broadcaster as there is.
He's one of the few men who comes across as sincerely genuine during a broadcast.
You'll be happy to know that's how he is in person.
I'd like to name a few high-profile athletes and coaches and get your insights. Let's start with Kobe Bryant [retired L.A. Lakers superstar].
He has the most incredible work ethic of any athlete I've ever seen.
Gregg Popovich [the San Antonio Spurs basketball coach who has a penchant for being difficult with courtside reporters].
Many of those interviews have not been my favorite part of our interactions. He's the most interesting, smart, man and he's undoubtedly great at his job—but I think some of those interviews we do are, at times, disrespectful. He thinks we intrude on his focus, and he doesn't like it.
Nick Saban [the University of Alabama head football coach, also known for prickly sideline interviews].
He's incredibly generous with information off camera, but you don't see that on camera. He's like Popovich, seeing interviews as a distraction.
What's on your professional bucket list?
I'm very content. I've reported from three Olympics, multiple national championships and the highest level of events in my profession.
But if you had your druthers...
I would love to report from the Super Bowl and possibly some golf broadcasts from some lovely places—my husband would love that. And always more Olympic games.
How about your personal bucket list?
Don't laugh. I want a vegetable garden and a chicken coop.
Lucky for you, that is allowed in Boise city limits.