He has the nerdy, Gumbelesque thing going on - but it has been documented that he is/was a sexual vulture! There were numerous incidents he perpetuated at ESPN in the early/mid '90s - a couple are summarized here:
It sounds like he was out-of-control back in the day - but his recent success suggests that he has tamed himself. Or has he? What has he been up to in recent years? Is he still "trying things" with colleagues (and other women not his wife)? Does he creep? Is it true that he has to be handcuffed when he is interviewing female athletes - such as Michelle Wie? Any info appreciated.
P.S. - here's a visual of Tirico during his sexual-harrassing days - he's in this classic Hootie and the Blowfish video (@ 2:55):
I wonder if Mike's found out whether or not he's black yet?
Post-Standard, The (Syracuse, NY)
May 30, 1991
MIKE TIRICO'S ON TELEVISION'S FAST TRACK
Author: WILLIAM LaRUE The Post-Standard
When he was in kindergarten, Mike Tirico used to sit in front of the television, grasping a spoon for a microphone, and pretend he was a sports play-by-play announcer.
Preparing for his career has been that simple for the Channel 5 sports anchor.
As a high school sophomore in New York City, Tirico decided he wanted to attend Syracuse University after reading that's where sports broadcaster Marv Albert went to school.
At Syracuse University, Tirico was the first freshman in about a decade who was allowed to do play-by-play sports on WAER-FM, the student-run station.
A year before graduating from SU in 1988, he was hired as weekend sports anchor at WTVH-TV. And last year, without Tirico asking, Channel 5 promoted him to sports director and weekday sports anchor.
All that, and Tirico won't turn 25 until December.
Understandably, Tirico is filled with confidence about his work and his future.
And yet, he says, he knows it's not always going to be this easy.
"It's weird," Tirico says. "I really haven't failed at anything yet. But I'm going to fail at something pretty soon, you know. And that's going to be my real test in this business - how I'm going to bounce back from getting fired or going for a job I really want and not getting it."
In many ways, Tirico would like to fit the mold of the new breed of broadcasters - people like NBC's Bob Costas and Bryant Gumbel who are knowledgeable and articulate and can do things other than sports.
Tirico hopes to work someday for a television network or to do non-sports journalism in a major TV market.
Everyone else, it seems, is sure he'll make it.
"I think Mike is the smoothest and the most knowledgeable, and is destined to go further than any guy in town," says former Channel 9 sports anchor Dave Cohen, who now does play-by-play for Cooke CableVision in Syracuse.
Even Costas, as SU graduate and former Channel 3 sportscaster, has seen enough of Tirico to say that he has a promising future.
"He's an exceptional talent. He's particularly good at ad libs," Costas says. "He's got a real good chance to be outstanding."
It's not just broadcasters who admire Tirico.
Local African-American groups often invite him to speak during Black History Month and on other occasions, viewing Tirico as a prominent example of a successful black professional.
He doesn't mind speaking, Tirico tells them, but he also lets them know a fact of his life: He's not sure he's black.
"When people go around and say, 'You are black' - well, I don't encourage it, but by the same token I don't back off of it," he says.
"If you want to call me that, that's fine. But, you know, in my whole family, there's nobody I know who is black."
Raised in Queens
Michael Todd Tirico grew up in a middle-class Italian family in Queens, about a five-minute drive from Shea Stadium.
Tirico's parents, Donald and Maria, were separated when he was about 4, and he says he has since lost contact with his father's side of the family. Tirico is an only child.
Because of his dark skin and ethnic features, Tirico says, most people assume he is black.
But he's seen pictures of his father, his father's mother and his father's sister - all of whom are white, Tirico says.
"The only contact I had growing up was with my mom's side of the family. And they are all as white as the refrigerator I'm standing in front of right now," Tirico says, standing in his kitchen in the Clay townhouse where he lives.
Someday, he says, he plans to do genealogical research to find out if he has a black ancestor, but it's not something he considers a pressing issue.
Tirico concedes, though, that his uncertain ethnicity sometimes makes other uncomfortable. Even skeptical.
"I know the story sounds like a lot of bull, but it's the truth" he says. "Does it matter to me? Yeah, I'd like to find out the truth at some point, so I can answer questions for my kids. But me? I'm living, I'm working, I'm leading an upstanding life. I don't worry about it."
And if the fact he is "minority-appearing" is helping to boost his career, Tirico is neither suprised nor apologetic.
"It might open the door, but that door's going to shut really quick if you don't have any ability," Tirico says.
Tirico learned about ability first-hand while in high school in Queens, where he was an A-minus honors student and senior class president - but wasn't good enough to play sports.
His one attempt at high school sports occurred as a sophomore when he tried out for the baseball team.
"I couldn't hit a curve ball for my life. That was it. I was done," he says.
As it turns out, Tirico is engaged to former SU basketball player Debbie Gibaratz, who was a sports star in high school.
Disagrees with Cosell
Tirico says he used to agree with retired sportscaster Howard Cosell's view that broadcasters didn't need to play sports to really understand the game.
Since dating Gibaratz, Tirico says, he's not so sure.
"She's my reality check for a lot of things," Tirico says. "I used to think I knew what an athlete was thinking. And she would say, 'How do you know what he was thinking?' it's so true.
"Now I'm a little less apt to second-guess an athlete because she reminds me almost every day, 'You don't know what he was thinking,'"
Paying such close attention to his on-air work has kept Tirico from making any major gaffe, he says.
In five years of TV broadcasting, Tirico can name only one really embarrassing moment.
It was last summer during coverage of the Empire State Games when Tirico was so ill he threw up during a live remote.
The event made a Herald-Journal story on the worst television moments of 1990.
The dig still irks Tirico, who explains how he had dragged himself to work despite having a stomach flu.
"The paper never said a word about the fact I am a hard worker and do a good job," Tirico says, his voice expressing more exasperation than anger.
"It wasn't a worst moment to me, because I was sicker than a dog that day, yet I worked."
Shake-Up at WTVH
Off the air, one of the toughest times for Tirico occurred in Febuary 1990 when he was asked to switch jobs with John Eves, who was sports director and weekday sports anchor at WTVH.
Publicly, Channel 5 played down the significance of the shake-up, but Tirico was worried that Eves' feelings would be hurt by the demotion.
"I was uncomfortable in that I knew about it a couple of days before he did. Those two days were terrible," Tirico says. "But, tell you what? We never had words. He's been great. John was classy about it and has been ever since."
Eves says the change worked out for the best for him, too. It gave him more time to work on building a Cortland County radio station scheduled to go on the air shortly.
Eves says he's leaving Channel 5 in a few weeks to work full time at his radio station. He thinks Tirico won't be around much longer, either.
"He's just got so much talent. He can make a major jump shortly," Eves says.
Tirico confirms that he's been offered jobs elsewhere, but none have been good enough yet to lure him from Syracuse.
Right now, Tirico says, he must also consider the career of Gibaratz, a management trainee in the finance department at Carrier Corp.
His promotion to sports director, Tirico says, is helping to keep him at Channel 5 - not only because of the extra money but also because it shows the station's confidence in him.
Sources say Tirico makes about $45,000 a year, although he wouldn't confirm it.
Tirico says he no longer feels uncomfortable about the decision to switch jobs with Eves.
"I think the philosophy of sports is to put the best team you can on the field," he says. "And maybe that's what they (station officials) were trying to do."
The comment is the strongest compliment Tirico gives himself in a three-hour interview. Even then, it comes across as more analytical than arrogant.
If all the praise by folks such as Costas and Cohen has gone to Tirico's head, his fiancee hasn't seen it.
"He's not arrogant at all about what he does," Gibaratz says. "And anytime he gets arrogant, I go out and beat his tail at basketball."
Name: Michael Todd Tirico
Birth date: December 13, 1966
Hometown: Queens, N.Y.
Marital status: Engaged
Occupations: Sports anchor and sports director, WTVH-TV Channel 5; host of "Sports Nuts' quiz show, Channel 5; host of sports talk show, WFBL-AM; sports reporter, WKFM.
His outside interests: "I like to go out shopping. I love playing golf. I'll watch a movie on TV every once in a while - but during a lull, I'll pop over to ESPN."
His close friend, Channel 3 sportscaster Roger Springfield: "We talk three or four nights a week. We talk about sports and TV and radio, wedding plans, vacations. I respect Roger a lot, as both a person and a journalist."
His on-air personality: "I'm me on the air. The me that's on the air is the me that's going to sit here and have a slice of pizza with you, have a beer with you. But if I'm not on top of the world, I'm not going to go out there and crack jokes."