The former USF and FSU student talks about football, the game this weekend between her alma maters, and how the internet changed her life forever.
If you don't know who Jenn Sterger is, then we're sorry you've missed the internet the last seven years. The one-time FSU Cowgirl and Facebook Princess is still working in front of the camera, but now she's much more clothed when doing so. And as you can imagine, she also has a truly unique perspective about the internet, fame, and both the positives and negatives of this modern media age. We talked to Jenn about football, the game between both her former schools this weekend, where she's been, and where she's at on her journey since leaving Tallahassee.
As an aside, we spent nearly an hour with Jenn on the phone today, and we're totally in the tank for her. She couldn't have been nicer, and we're excited to see where the next step leads. Check out her website, and follow her on Twitter @JenniferSterger.
After that Clemson game, you must be pretty excited for the return of FSU Football. What do you think about the current incarnation?
I was breathing a huge sigh of relief in the 4th quarter. I went to school during the Jeff Bowden Era, so I'm used to having my heart broken and run over by a Mack truck.
So many times I've heard people say "this is our year, this is our year." I usually just try to sit back and watch and not feed into the frenzy of expectations. But when I was looking at the preseason reports, it seemed like "maybe this really is our year." Combine that with the fact that the rest of the Florida football seems to be in a slump right now... I saw Clemson as our biggest roadblock, and I was biting my nails until the 3rd quarter. Thank God there are four quarters in football. Whew.
So what's the difference between FSU now and under the last years of the Bowden Era? Was this just a sleeping giant that needed a change in leadership to be awakened, or is Jimbo Fisher really just that good a coach?
I think Jimbo is incredibly good. I think Bobby was a legendary coach, and became a really good figurehead, but it was time for a change. When someone becomes such a huge part of a program, I mean he was FSU football, and the idea of FSU football without him was scary for alot of people. They were scared of change as they often are. But what people don't realize is that we were stuck playing ‘80's and 90's FB. Jimbo helped evolve the program. We needed to get "younger." I love Bobby, I think he's a great guy. He was a staple at our school, and nothing will change that. But I think Jimbo is building a legacy there too.
Any thoughts on you're "other" alma mater?
Every year, you're going to have a team that breaks through. I mean who the hell was Boise State before they became what they are now? I wrote a piece for sports illustrated back in 2006 saying "USF eventually would be a perennial Top 25, mark my words, these guys are going to be the real deal in a year." I still smile about that one.
I had some friends on the team a few years ago, and you always like to see friends do well. Plus Grothe was really special. He had something that a lot of guys his size couldn't do and was really fun to watch. I think we can all appreciate the underdog fighting to find their way.
Bulls fans have always been really respectful too. I've actually gone to games with Britt (ed: the girl that set up this interview) as a USF fan, and Ive never seen you guys as light years behind us either. For me, it's what kind of leadership you have, what kind of talent you can put on the roster in a given year. I still think there's still a spark there.
Plus sports is such a good recruiting tool for USF, which is a great academic school. And USF is really coming up in that respect. Obviously there's a bit of a talent dropoff right now, but for incoming kids it's so cool to be able to build something from the ground up. Its one thing o go o a school for its "legacy" or heritage, but to help build something is truly special. And recruits and players should look it as an amazing opportunity.
I went to USF my first two years because my parents were like "I don't think she's ready for the real world. How much trouble could she get in in Tampa?" If they only knew. They kept me there for the first two years, and the second two years I transferred to Tally to be near my boyfriend at the time. I transferred schools for a boy, and I know you're shocked... but amazingly, it didn't work out.
Any regrets about that infamous day, the 2005 Miami-FSU game, when Brent Musburger made you an internet legend?
I don't look back on things and say "man, I really messed up." If you're constantly looking back, you're not moving forward. It's easy to glance back and say things should have been done differently. When it all happened, I thought "I'll be damned if I'm not going to run with this opportunity." I had always wanted to be some sort of performer, and this turned out to be a huge break for me. Since it happened people have had false perceptions, and I played into that stereotype. So many times I get "wow, you're nothing like what I thought you'd be." I was very good at playing the game and being adaptable, and I always blended in well with different crowds.
The anonymity of the internet allows people to judge you with very little knowledge about who you are or your circumstances, and there are no repercussions. It's a powerful thing for someone sitting in their parent's basement to be able to judge you and say things to you they'd never have the stones to say to your face. It allows everyone to have a voice. Sometimes there's far too much polarization about it. People rarely come to the web to say they have luke warm feelings for/about something. Its either love and hate. I don't think I'm well-represented on the internet, but thats partially due to the fact I was young and naïve about its power and longevity. To me, it was just a girl going out and having fun with her girlfriends. The fact I was on TV and subsequently the web was the only thing that made me different.
So rocking a tied off shirt and pasted-on cutoffs wasn't your daily attire in class at FSU?
On any other day, I was in sweatpants and baggy T-Shirts. I was there to learn, I had a baseball hat over my face most of the time. I wasn't ready for what happened to me, I wanted to be a performer, but I always heard "you aren't pretty enough, you aren't pretty enough." Sports was just kind of the way in. I'm one of the guys. I love sports still to death, but at times it's shown me its ugly side too.
Well since you brought it up...
I was put in situations that were unfortunate and I didn't show as much emotion and hurt as maybe I could or should have. I think that's due in part because I was raised like a boy. "Be tough, walk it off. Don't let people see how hurt you are." So for a long time, a lot of the hurt I was experiencing got buried inside. Looking back, I regret not sharing that with people. Becaus when you stifle your feelings people see it as you "Hiding" something, but when you're real with people, theyll trust you a lot more. People still write me nasty hate letters, and I usually respond with "what if this happened to your mother or sister?" Some people apologize, but others will never get it. It's stupid and ignorant to not try to understand where other people are coming from before passing judgment. I'm infamous but not famous, which isn't what I expected or ever wanted. I just wanted to do my job, every day, like everyone else.. and not feel bullied or pressured. Everyone deserves that right. But I try not to dwell on it, to move forward and work towards my goals each day.
But now all that's behind you, and you're moving forward. We like that, so what'cha doing?
I work for Fox at The Daily covering mostly sports. And I'm also doing some red carpet-type stuff for KABC in LA. And I've also gone back to school, as I'm at The Groundlings in L.A., and The Pit in NYC... doing the bi-coastal thing. I like that I'm still learning, and it's great to find a platform in comedy that'll help me going forward.
I'll also be watching the game on UStream with my friend Kyra, who's a fitness guru and fellow sports lover in Boston. I really love UStream because it's a great place to interact with people. I always feel weird calling people "fans," because for me it's always been so much more about making real friends, and people that are interested in seeing where my journey might take me.
If people want to join us they can log onto: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/the-get-in-shape-girl We will be kicking things off around 4:45 tomorrow afternoon. Should be fun to place for anyone watching the game at home to stop through! And of course, I encourage people to add to the conversation.
I know it's trite, but we need a prediction.
No chance! That goes against my rules. I don't bet on football. I do play fantasy, but I don't ever give predictions because I feel like I'm giving that Lee Corso curse. I don't want the responsibility. I think it'll be a lot closer than people think, and I hope so because I hate blowouts, but I always enjoy a shootout. I hope it's tough, competitive, great game. I went to both schools so it has a bit of extra meaning, but also because the last time we played I got my heart broken. There's higher stakes now, so I'm interested to see how it goes.
And I might wear a Nelly jersey... half Bulls, half ‘Noles. It'll look great on a Christmas card.