Kendall Rogers is a managing editor and writer for D1Baseball with more than two decades of experience covering college baseball. The Texas native worked with Perfect Game, Yahoo! and Rivals.com before D1Baseball. Rogers is a graduate of Texas A&M University and as we learn in this interview, does not actually hate your team!
Inside Pitch: My name is Adam. And I have an addiction to the D1Baseball Scoreboard, just like a lot of my colleagues…
Kendall Rogers: What’s really incredible is Jeremy Mills and his wife Cynthia started that, and they would manually update every single score. Unbelievable right? For years and years and years, that's how it was done. Thankfully, we’ve got a really good partnership with 6-4-3 Charts right now. They’re a rising commodity in the industry, and with their help we’ve been able to automate a lot of it. But it started as a “mom and pop” deal. Cynthia and Jeremy Mills are a big reason I got into college baseball.
IP: Had you always wanted to cover college baseball?
KR: I did. My parents took me to the 1993 Central Regional, I’d go to games at Disch-Falk, I'd go to Lubbock back when Larry Hays had Texas Tech rolling. It was a sport that very few people covered, and I started in the 56K modem days, where you had to dial in, and sometimes you would get a busy signal. I would dial in, log online and build a site with Microsoft Front Page. I would literally sit there on Friday night and have every radio broadcast for every Big 12 game going, and I would update a scoreboard manually through Microsoft Front Page.
After doing that for a couple years, I talked to Bobby Burton and Shannon Terry at Rivals.com. Shannon now is the CEO at On3. They asked if I had interest in putting it on their network at Rivals. I'm like, “Hell yeah, I have interest.” I joined their national writer team, and it just all blew up from there. But when I was at Yahoo, one of those years they laid off 45,000 people, and I was one of them. I'm thinking “wow, I'm done covering college baseball. Nobody's going to invest in a college baseball writer.”
And I kid you not, two days later, Jerry Ford at Perfect Game calls me out of the blue. He told me they’d love to cover college baseball so I went there. And I loved it. I loved the people there and I’ll always be very grateful to Jerry and his family for bringing me on there. Perfect Game has had a lot of success and continues to have a pretty big vision, and my years with them were great.
Kyle Peterson came to me in Omaha after I’d been at PG for two years and asked about creating a one-stop shop for college baseball: scores, standings, stats, stories in one place. He asked what I needed, and it's been a terrific relationship.
Kyle, Aaron Fitt and Mike Rooney are three of my best friends. I don’t like to brag on the job, but my stress is if a game in Omaha goes 18 innings. That is my stressful day. It’s funny, when I meet people around the country they ask, “Hey, what do you do for a living?”
“I cover college baseball.”
“Oh, so you're a scout?”
“Well, not exactly.”
“Then are you a writer?”
People may never know exactly what we do, but I just love my job. It’s one of those things that I'll probably still be doing at 70 years old, God willing I’m still alive. I love the sport, and I love the progress that we made as a sport. To see that evolution has been pretty neat.
IP: So when people compare you Adrian Wojnarowski or Adam Schefter, you take that as a compliment right?
KR: For sure. And while I can tell you I do not have the salary or the followers of those two guys, breaking news is a big part of my job, and I love doing it. Some people love writing columns—I love breaking news. I love talking to coaches. When I first started, I was 18 years old, I would call Dave Van Horn and Tom Holliday every other day during the fall and during the spring. I was just trying to get someone to respond to me.
I lived in College Station, but Texas and Texas A&M said, “Oh, you’re not real media. We’re not credentialing you. We’re not letting you talk to coaches.” So I had to branch out. I would call those guys over and over, and eventually I got a response. I guess DVH and Holliday told people, “Hey, this dude's legit. He’s really trying to cover college baseball.”
Now I’ll text a coach on a Sunday night at 10 o’clock, “Hey man, I’m hearing your assistant got the job at XYZ. Is that accurate?” And they’ll just tell me. So it’s been funny to see that gradual process. There’s a lot of trust that’s been built up there, obviously. There’s a lot of stuff in this job that I never report, and that’s to protect sources and to make sure these guys all know that I’m here for them.
IP: There aren’t many rules when it comes to Twitter—people just put anything out there and call it coaching or news. So what’s one rule for handling sources and timing and what you're putting out there?
KR: I had confirmed that Shawn Stiffler got the Notre Dame job, but he had not talked to his team yet. I was texting sources about when he was talking to his team at VCU and sitting on the story.
Eventually it ended up coming out in so many different places that I just went ahead and reported it, but that’s the biggest thing for me. I don't want players to find out from me that their head coach is taking another job, or that their head coach has been fired. People may think it’s a quick process when I break this stuff, but it really isn’t. Especially for head coaching hires, I make sure that the team has been told. So that’s my biggest thing, and that’s really my advice for young writers—your actions have consequences. What you post can have ramifications.
IP: Any other advice for aspiring writers and coaches when it comes to social media?
KR: Sure. Have some fun. I think it was two years in a row our entire staff picked A&M to beat TCU in Super Regionals, so TCU fans are like, “Oh, you hate TCU.” At the time they were really serious, but they realized eventually that I don’t actually hate TCU. I’ve been a big proponent of that program over the years. So now it’s a running joke that I hate everybody's team, and it all started with TCU.
My other advice for people—writers, coaches or even players—do not take what people say to you on Twitter that seriously. People are going to be mean. People are going to be rude, they’re going to cuss. My dad used to always tell me you never know what’s going on in somebody’s life, so I just try to have fun with it. That's all you can do.
IP: If you were college baseball commissioner for a day, what you would get your hands on and change?
KR: We’ve got to shake up the transfer deadline, which they're in the process of doing. College baseball is lumped with all the “non-revenue sports,” and baseball is a different animal. Outside of men's basketball, baseball makes the most money for the NCAA of any championship sport, but we are not treated that way. So I would like to see baseball sectioned out on its own.
When I talk to casual fans, pace of play is the number one thing they complain about. You had A&M and Louisville in a Super Regional game this past year that lasted four hours and 37 minutes, and it wasn't 19-17 in extra innings, it was 5-4 in nine. It’s a big reason why college softball has made big time leaps and bounds—they’re able to keep their games within a certain window. So if we’re wanting college baseball to be on ABC or CBS for our championship, we've got to find a way to cut down the time.
I would also go to a 3-3-3 postseason format—three weekends of three game series before the College World Series. Think about it—if you’re an athletic director and your team has no shot of ever hosting, why are you going to pump money into that sport? But if Indiana State can host a postseason weekend series on ESPN, it gives them really good publicity on a national level and it expands our geographic footprint in the postseason, which is very important.
IP: What do you think about NIL and the transfer portal being introduced at the same time?
KR: I’ve had ADs complain to me over and over about Vanderbilt’s scholarship situation, but I tell them that as long as we are a partial scholarship sport, I’ll never be in a position to question a school or a system that is giving college baseball players more financial help. So whether it’s NIL, the HOPE scholarship, or Vanderbilt’s situation, I'm never going to criticize a situation that improves the financial stability of a college baseball player. NIL is a big deal now, but I think it will slow down. I believe we are three or four years away from being in a position where college baseball has 25, 26 scholarships, and that solves a lot of our issues.
IP: What then becomes of college baseball at the mid-major level?
KR: That’ll be one of the difficult discussions to be had. If you're a major program you're like, “NIL, more scholarships, let's go.” But if you’re in the Northeast Conference or the Metro Atlantic, why in the world are you going to play schools that have 25 scholarships when you only have 12?
I think our future is probably two divisions. And as much as it would stink, it’s just what makes the most sense. I think the chances of the majority of mid-majors taking that big leap in today’s environment decrease exponentially as more of these things happen with NIL, scholarships and coaches. If the NCAA Transformation Committee is going to pass unlimited coaches, you can bet the SEC, the Big 12, the Big 10, they’re going to go, “Hey, we’ll allow you to hire five coaches,” and they’ll throw $180,000 to the top assistants at some of these mid-majors.
There are a lot of moving parts, but we’re moving in a better direction today than we ever have. It has its issues, of course, but it’s more money, exposure and eventually scholarships and coaches going into baseball. You can’t really spin that as a bad thing for our sport.