Memo to Steve Forbes: Stay at ETSU

Marky Billson
5 min readApr 4, 2020

As former ETSU head coach Ed DeChellis used to say, “my father said the grass is always greener on the other side but you still have to mow it.”

Kudos to Erik Ainge. The one-time Tennessee Volunteers quarterback has had his sports talk show, rated as the 17th best mid-major sports talk show of in the country by Barrett Sports Media, picked up in the Tri-Cities market.

As such, Ainge interviewed both ETSU football coach Randy Sanders and Buccaneers’ head men’s basketball coach Steve Forbes during his first week heard over the air in the Tri-Cities.

Additionally, his interview with Forbes has the community buzzing with excitement, as he spoke glowingly about the Tri-Cities area and ETSU athletic program.

But Forbes also was responsible enough to mention that he wasn’t married to the program. So while Buccaneers fans have focused on his “I love it here” sentiments in the interview, they might best remember Ed DeChellis used to say the same thing to me when he was the ETSU coach.

DeChellis, shown here coaching the Bucs, has been Navy’s head coach since 2011. Ironically, one of his first recruits to ETSU was Navy transfer Greg Stephens, who led the Bucs in scoring in 1998 and 1999.

And just as DeChellis interviewed at Duquesne and College of Charleston during his seven-year stint in Johnson City before leaving for Penn State, Forbes has interviewed at two programs during his ETSU tenure, New Mexico and Arkansas.

It’s not that Forbes deserves blame for interviewing with the Lobos and Razorbacks. He doesn’t. Who would deny someone else from a higher paying position in their field with more exposure?

It’s that when these interviews are in the public’s memory, and for that matter when the full context of Forbes’ statement to Ainge is essentially saying that ETSU is great but there are better places out there, it’s pretty hard not to think Bucs fans have an inferiority complex and these comments are just a bit hollow.

For instance, Forbes mentions Gregg Marshall saying “you don’t mess with happy.”

A contributing factor to Marshall’s happiness is he is one of the highest paid coaches in college basketball, making $3.5 million annually from Wichita State.

Marky Billson

Innovative sports media personality.