Passion trumped logic in Kurt Dargis’ life.
And, man, is he glad it did.
Michigan City, graduating from Rogers High in 1987. Though he didn’t play any varsity sports, he still remembers the Rogers boys basketball team losing to the eventual state champion — Warsaw in 1984, and Marion 1985-87 — all four years he was there.
Like his dad and his uncle before him, Dargis attended Notre Dame. A Heisman Trophy by Tim Brown in ‘87, a national title in ‘88, and two other close calls gave Dargis plenty of excitement before he left with a government and international relations degree in 1991.
Welcome to the real world. Now what?
An entry-level job in Washington, D.C., with a defense contractor didn’t cut it. One (year)-and-done.
Next stop, follow a girlfriend to the Twin Cities. Work as a clerk at an engineering company by day to pay the bills, then do commercials and sports updates from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. on an all-sports radio station.
“I always had a passion for sports,” Dargis said.
A Notre Dame degree to do commercials and updates on the graveyard shift. What did his parents think?
“They were just glad I wasn’t living in their basement,” Dargis said. “They knew I was doing what I loved.”
That’s when the breaks started to fall. After a year on the radio, a TV station in the Twin Cities was starting a SportsCenter-type program, focusing on the Twins, Vikings, and other pro, college and even high school sports. Dargis said he landed a job as “cameraman, floor producer, whatever.”
A year there gave him enough background to apply for an entry-level job at ESPN.
Passion fueled a dream that has blossomed into a career.
After starting as a screener in the programming department, Dargis spent three years as a researcher and producer on ESPN’s Sports Century project, then was given an option.
“In 2002, (ESPN executives) asked me: ‘If you had your choice of any sport, which one would you want to work on?’” Dargis said. “It took me two seconds to say, ‘college football.’
“(Growing up,) I’d always go to Notre Dame games with my dad and my uncle,” Dargis said. “Now, I get to work with college football and get paid for it. It was rewarding then, and it still is.”
Today, Dargis is ESPN’s Director of Programming and Acquisitions. He’s done that since 2002. He does more than just work with college football. He dictates it. The guy with a government and international relations degree is a college football bigfoot.
If Notre Dame is playing at Boston College on ESPN or ABC at 8 p.m., it’s because Dargis and the three folks he works with said so. If Ball State is playing Toledo on a Tuesday night, it’s because Dargis and his group said so.
Those four people are responsible for the complete gamut of college football programming on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and ABC. They have to work within the parameters of other broadcasting entities like the Big Ten Network, Fox Sports, CBS, among others.