How Tiger Woods helped this ESPN personality land at Stanford

Even before he turned pro, Tiger Woods was quite the draw. Just ask Steve Coughlin, a.k.a. Stanford Steve, the popular ESPN personality you might know from the “Bad Beats” segment on SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt.

Coughlin is a big golf fan and was on-site at last week’s PGA Championship, in which ESPN is a rights-holder. He also joined GOLF’s Subpar podcast to discuss the PGA, why he loves the sport, working with Van Pelt and more. One topic also included the story of the first time Coughlin met Woods, which happened during a recruiting trip.

As his moniker hints, Coughlin attended Stanford and played tight end for the Cardinals. He was a highly sought-after recruit coming out of Connecticut, where he won national player of the year. He told Subpar co-hosts Drew Stoltz and Colt Knost he had lots of interest since he could play multiple positions, but a 1996 recruiting trip to Stanford helped him make his decision.

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He said about 15 recruits were a part of his visit, and there was a mystery guest speaker scheduled to address the group. Coughlin’s assigned seat happened to be at the main table with the head coach and speaker. Asked who it might be, he was told, “You gotta wait and find out.”

“Sure enough, dinner starts, speaker seat is right here next to me, empty,” Coughlin said. “Side door opens, Tiger walks in, sits down and I’m like, Holy s—, Tiger Woods is right here. And he literally sits down and he’s like, ‘Bro, so sorry I’m late, my roommates just finished building a computer.’ And I’m like, Ah, there’s no way I’m coming here. Like, building a computer? What the hell am I going to do? I’m worried if I’m passing my last English test in Connecticut.”

Coughlin said he had a nice conversation with Woods, and turns out having the decorated amateur golfer there turned out to be a good recruiting tool.

“If we had 15 [recruits there] I think like 14 committed,” Coughlin said.

Woods won his third straight U.S. Amateur later that summer and turned pro days later, going on to win 15 major titles.

You can listen to the entire interview here, or watch it on YouTube below.

Josh Berhow Editor

As’s managing editor, Berhow handles the day-to-day and long-term planning of one of the sport’s most-read news and service websites. He spends most of his days writing, editing, planning and wondering if he’ll ever break 80. Before joining in 2015, he worked at newspapers in Minnesota and Iowa. A graduate of Minnesota State University in Mankato, Minn., he resides in the Twin Cities with his wife and two kids. You can reach him at