Like most in the sports media business, the pandemic meant that Bobby Carpenter traveled much less than usual during the 2020 football season. “Spent more time with the family, which was a positive,” said the 7-year NFL veteran and current college football analyst with ESPN. Carpenter, who has three sons aged 4 through 11, used the down time to coach their football and basketball teams. We caught up with Carpenter this week for the Friday Five:
1. Who is your biggest mentor?
My dad’s had a huge impact on my life. He’d say that a good mentor should show you the wrong things as much as the right things — it’s important to know the difference. I’d have to say my dad number one because of that. Probably also (former Ohio State head coach) Jim Tressel. As much as I’d hate to admit it when I was in college, a lot of the things he did, the principles he tried to teach us, as tedious and boring as I thought they were when I was 19, 20, 21 years old, they now hold true. I really appreciate that to this day. Whenever I need to get them on the phone, it’s always nice to hear their wisdom.
2. What’s your top pet peeve?
Starting a job and not seeing it through to completion. Whether that’s putting the lid back on the jar of milk and not putting it back in the fridge, leaving the bed unmade, or a light bulb burned out. You see a problem, you solve a problem. You start something, you finish it.
3. What’s your favorite book?
I started reading a lot more after I got out of college. I think my favorite book through college was “The Great Gatsby.” I loved that book. After college, “Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell. It was a book I was reading when I was in training camp in my fourth year (in the NFL). It was a good book to read for like 15 minutes a night to keep your mind off football. When you’re going through training camp, you think life is terrible, you don’t see your family and you’re getting beat up. You love football but each day is a grind. It gave me a lot of perspective. I remember reading it on the way to preseason games, on the bus or plane. It was just absolutely fantastic.
4. If you could have dinner with any three people in history, who would they be?
I’ve got the first two locked in pretty solid – Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman. I guess the third would be Nelson Mandela. There’s a book called “The Traveler’s Gift.” It’s fiction, but it talks about meeting seven historical people on the eve of huge decisions in their lives — like meeting Truman before dropping the atom bomb on Japan, meeting Lincoln on the eve of the Gettysburg Address. It’s very impactful. It would be great to talk to people about these monumental decisions that were Earth-shifting at the time.
5. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your teen self?
I teach a leadership class at Ohio State and do some public speaking, and one thing I say is: Be a great steward of your own time. I look back, and I thought I was efficient with my time when I was younger. Now I look back… I wasted a lot of time, because I viewed it as “my time.” Even in high school and college, 30 minutes more a day to help improve yourself. Do something to improve yourself every day. So often you get caught up in just trying to get through everything and … relax. But there’s always a little bit of time to improve. And once that day is done, it’s over.