How Davis' short-lived broadcasting career led him to CMU

Central Michigan head coach Keno Davis talks on the radio prior to playing against Ball State on Feb. 28 at McGuirk Arena.

Since 1991, Central Michigan men’s basketball coach Keno Davis has had a seat on the sideline every year as a coach.

Except for the 2011-2012 season. 

After the 2010-12 campaign as the head coach of Providence, Davis was fired in Rhode Island. 

“I was looking for the right fit coaching job, but my wife and I discussed that if it wasn’t the right fit, then I wasn’t going to make that move,” Davis said. “I looked into television for a broadcasting career and then wanted to make the next step. I went to Chicago to interview for the in-game announcing and studio announcing.” 

From 1991-95, Davis was an undergraduate assistant coach for Iowa under his father. Due to having an inside knowledge of the Big Ten Conference and providing a strong broadcasting voice, Davis received two job offers from the Big Ten Network. 

Davis, picking up two jobs with the network, accepted the positions and moved his family to Munster, Indiana, which is just a 30-minute drive to downtown Chicago. 

“Rather than fly in for weekends, we moved outside of Chicago,” Davis said. “I was able to drive in for studio stuff and travel out to do road games. Because I was the new guy and living so close, I got the first call when anybody cancelled. I ended up doing a lot more extra work than I thought.”

After proving his broadcasting talents for the Big Ten Network, Mark Cuban’s HDNet got in touch with Davis to call on him to cover the College Basketball Insider Tournament. Once again, Davis accepted. 

“I was their main color commentator for the postseason and went all the way through to the championship,” Davis said.

In the 2012 CBI, Washington State defeated Pittsburgh by one-point, 67-66, in the first game of a best-of-three series for the championship. After the second game, which Washington State earned a victory by four points, Davis took flight from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. 

By flying to New Orleans, Davis was getting in touch with athletic director Dave Heeke regarding Central Michigan’s coaching vacancy. 

“While Washington State was playing Pittsburgh between games two and three, I was flying back-and-forth to New Orleans to meet with Dave Heeke about the coaching job here,” Davis said. “After that year, I was only interested in two jobs and one was Central Michigan. I’m fortunate everything worked out.”

Heeke, who is now the athletic director at Arizona, offered him the head coaching position, which Davis accepted. He has been the coach of the Chippewas since 2012. 

Davis said he is not sure whether he will ever return to putting on the headset. Right now, he is focused on his team at CMU. 

“I think in coaching you try not to think too far ahead because the future might get there quicker than you want,” Davis said. “You try to think about the team you’re coaching at the time and the recruiting for the following year. I have no idea what the plan is in 10 or 15 years.”

Even though Davis is not sure if he will ever return to broadcasting, he recognizes it is something he enjoys and is talented at. 

Also, Davis said broadcasting was frequently more relaxing than coaching college basketball for a Division I program.

“I did enjoy broadcasting,” Davis said. “I got more sleep at night and there was less stress, but I also knew my true passion was with coaching. I knew that was the direction I was going to go.”