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Episode 016 – KOCO-TV Sports Director Bryan Keating

Posted on Oct 27, 2016 by in Podcast Episode | 0 comments


Bryan and I talk about how the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership are handling the loss of Kevin Durant, the Big 12 meltdown, and how former Oklahoma State basketball coach Eddie Sutton helped a state heal in the wake of tragedy.

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Bryan Keating is the Sports Director for Oklahoma City’s ABC affiliate KOCO-TV. Bryan has covered some of the sports world’s top teams and athletes, from Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys, to Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Bryan worked his way up the ranks from Victoria, TX to Abilene, TX, before joining KOCO as their weekend anchor and now as the weeknight anchor and director.

Bryan and I have known each other since grade school, played high school baseball together, and though distance and years have made it tough, he is someone I still consider a great friend.

You can find him on Twitter @KOCOKeating.


  1. Bryan I know it’s a bit of old news now, but the major story of the summer for you had to be the move by Kevin Durant to leave the Thunder and to join Golden State. What are your thoughts on that decision?
    1. Growing up in OKC, there is big disappointment
    2. On the verge of a championship, and that opportunity looks to be gone
    3. Understand why Kevin did what he did, but thought he had a bit more competitor / dog in him
    4. But we live in a “ring” culture right now, and he put himself in a situation to get some rings
    5. (Daniel recounts story of attending the 2007 NBA Draft in New York when Durant was drafted)
  2. How have leaders in the Thunder organization handled the situation; I’m thinking specifically about Clay Bennett the owner, GM Sam Presti and Russell Westbrook.
    1. Built a culture in OKC to be successful for the long haul
    2. That should continue, even if not at the championship level
    3. You can’t pretend you can just replace one of the world’s best players
    4. But you can dam up the bad situation, and they did that by convincing Russell Westbrook to stick around
    5. They’ve reset the organization
    6. Sam Presti has made the team younger
  3. What is their goal now? How do you reset the goals when such a key component has been removed?
    1. Hard
    2. Especially for Westbrook
    3. You have to reshuffle the deck; can’t just have the same core guys minus Durant
    4. Bring in a Victor Oladipo
    5. They don’t have the right pieces for a championship, but Sam identifies talent that work in his system
    6. These are good people who work hard, and are team players; Thunder players aren’t in the news for bad reasons
    7. (Daniel reiterates this point of mixing up the team to break out)
    8. They’ve drafted well and have lots of talent, and set things up for bringing in a big free agent or trade in order to make another title run
  4. We spoke with Chip Brown recently from about Big 12 realignment, and I’m curious what your view is on how the presidents, ADs and commissioner have handled things this time around?
    1. Really tough on Big 12; they have been the loser of the shifting conference alignments
    2. Leadership has let down the league
    3. Very reactionary
    4. Allowed Texas to control much of this; the Longhorn Network chased Nebraska, Colorado, A&M and Missouri out
    5. West Virginia and TCU have been nice fill-in pieces, but no good options
    6. Louisville wanted to come to the Big 12, but the league said no…all they’ve done is win big in the ACC
    7. Only looking at the money upside in the short term; not looking long-term
    8. Conference is in danger of ultimately dissolving
    9. Best for everyone to stay together if possible, but doesn’t look feasible
  5. (Follow-up) about lack of true leader of the conference
    1. Texas v. everyone else
    2. David Boren (OU president; former Oklahoma governor) – probably the leader for everyone not in Texas
    3. But there just aren’t many options for the remaining 10 schools
  6. You covered the Dallas Cowboys for a number of years; what can you tell us about the leadership style of Jerry Jones, and how the coaches, staff and players respond to him?
    1. Perhaps the most visible of all professional sports owners
    2. Very hands-on
    3. Been extremely successful in putting on a show; understands this is the entertainment business
    4. Got a stadium built
    5. Leader with the corporate sponsorship deals
    6. Team hasn’t been as successful
    7. Jerry says every decision the organization makes ultimately he has his hands in, which puts people like Head Coach Jason Garrett in interesting positions of not having the final say in certain matters
  7. (Follow-up) Sometimes competing priorities between winning and business
    1. Jerry wants to win as bad or worse than anyone else, just hasn’t figured out the best route to do so
    2. Overall the organization is the most successful franchise in the world
  8. (Follow-up) Jerry Jones’ influence among the NFL owners
    1. Absolutely; both he and Robert Kraft
  9. Who is the greatest sports leader you have covered, and why?
    1. Bob Stoops
      1. Can’t argue with is success between all the conference titles; national title
      2. He’s going to fight for his guys
      3. Easy to see why his guys like playing for him
      4. He’s going to fall on his sword for anything that goes on in his program; this is hard to do but he’s willing to do it
      5. (Daniel follow-up) – Dean Smith example with players winning games and coaches losing them
      6. (Daniel follow-up) – Family night during the season every Wednesday
      7. Find really good people to put around you and let them coach; hired a bunch of different personalities from Mike Leach to Lincoln Riley
    2. Eddie Sutton
      1. Lots of success while plenty of personal ups and downs
      2. But the way he handled the plane crash in 2001 stands out
      3. He was able to bear the burden for everyone, and allow the entire university and state to heal
      4. Had to have been so difficult on him
      5. He allowed everyone to rally around him; he tried to feel everyone’s pain and take it away from them; let them know it was okay to be hurt
      6. He then had to have his team pivot to playing for something greater than what they thought they were playing for a week ago
      7. Bubble team with a chance to make the NCAA Tournament, then tragedy strikes, and how do you build back a university through a basketball team
      8. Ex: Allow players to wear the shorts of the fallen players during a game
  10. Something that has come up on this show a number of times is the importance of authenticity. In your role I imagine you get to see leaders who possess this quality and others who don’t. How would you rank authenticity as an important leadership trait and who are some examples of those who are authentic leaders?
    1. For Bryan, this is one of the most important things he does
    2. Greatest compliment after watching him on TV is that in person you are the same guy as you are on TV
    3. People can tell if you’re faking it
    4. Covering people, you don’t really get to see them as they are. Bob Stoops is a good example where you just see the combative side
    5. Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State head football coach) used to be very combative as well, but has changed in recent years to more of a genuine person; that seems to have helped in recruiting and in his relationship with the media
    6. Russell Westbrook has historically been the combative one, but since becoming the leader of the team, appears to be transitioning to showing more of himself.
  11. We mentioned that you worked your way up in the TV sports industry. What did you learn in your previous stops that impacts how you lead your sports team today?
    1. First stop – Victoria, then Abilene before Oklahoma City
    2. Victoria – just one station; no competition; didn’t have to innovate or grow because of that; but learned that he wanted someone to mentor him and teach him and help him grow; started to think about how he would do things if he were the boss
    3. He became good at knowing what people were interested in; this is an entertainment business; how can he keep people’s attention for the three minutes of the show
    4. In Abilene, got to experiment, learn and grow; also had a staff who he could invest in, train and help develop. He would get 200 resume tapes for a reporter position. He tried to hire people who will learn through making mistakes. And hire people who are way smarter than him. Send people back to watch the tape and see where you can get better. Proud to now have former staff all over the country working in sports media.
    5. (Daniel follow-up) – Quoting Zig Ziglar: You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help others get what they want.
    6. If all the people who work for me have opportunities to go on to huge jobs, we’re being successful.
  12. What did you learn from playing high school sports that impacts how you lead today?
    1. Working on a team; no better classroom for teamwork than playing sports
    2. You learn to win; you learn to lose; how to work together for a common goal; how to manage the emotions
    3. It would be hard for him to hire someone that didn’t have some sort of sports background, because that teamwork is so important.
    4. We learned how to lose a lot! And tried to stay positive every day, because in baseball you have a new game every day
    5. Same thing happens when you have a bad broadcast; you have to go back on air 24 hours later
    6. Doesn’t have to be a sports team, could be debate, or band or anything like that.
    7. A downside of coming up through that structure is learning not to really question the coach, and that’s something now he’s having to learn is how/when to challenge authority.
  13. Where can people go to connect with you? (social media in addition to main platforms)
    1. @kocokeating on Twitter

Thank Yous/Acknowledgements:

  1. Antioch Live/Clear Day Media Groupmusic
    1. More here.
  2. Jonathan Davis – production
  3. Clint Musslewhite voice over


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