Stump the Schwab is an American game show that airs on ESPN Classic (originally ESPN 2). The show premiered in 2004, and features three contestants trying to stump Howie Schwab, who is the first statistician ESPN has ever had. Stuart Scott is the show's host. The show also appears on Canada's The Score Television Network.
Each episode of the show has three rounds, "Leading Off," a second round that features a different game each time, and "The Schwab Showdown." After each of the first two rounds, the contestant with the lowest score is eliminated.
Each episode begins with "Leading Off," a round where the contestants, as well as "The Schwab", have to take turns naming an athlete on a list relating to a major achievement, such as, "Since 1975, name every player that has led the National League
in home runs." As this round consists of three such lists each contestant is given a turn to begin each list. During the first season, the full list was displayed on screen for the home viewers, with each person who has not been named displayed in white letters, and each person correctly named having their names displayed in blue letters. Starting in the third season, answers were shown only as they were given by players, allowing home viewers to "play along." At the end of the question, all answers were shown. Each correct answer is worth one point. If a contestant or "The Schwab" gives a wrong answer, cannot come up with an answer, or provides an answer already given, he is eliminated for the rest of the topic with the spotlight shining over him darkened. If there is only one player (including the Schwab) left, that player may score only one additional point by giving another correct answer. Whoever has the lowest score at the end of "Leading Off" is eliminated from the show, while the remaining two contestants go on to face each other in Round Two.
As said above, there are different games used for round two in each episode. "The Schwab" does not compete against the contestants in this round (but may ask some questions to contestants, and when no one gives a right answer, he'll reveal the correct answer). Some of the games are as follows:
A team that won a championship in a certain year has its starting lineup displayed on a screen (e.g. the 1988 Kansas Jayhawks
, who won the men's NCAA basketball
national championship over the Oklahoma Sooners
that year). Not all members of the starting lineup are on-screen, so each contestant must fill in the other players not listed. Usually, three lists are given to each contestant; the first list has three spaces to be filled in within 15 seconds; the second, four spaces in 20 seconds; and the third, 5 spaces in 25 seconds. Contestants take turns trying to fill in players, and a contestant may "steal" any missing answers that the other was not able to give. One point is given for each correct player named or stolen.
Who Am I?
"The Schwab" alternates asking each contestant a question about an athlete or a coach, given a specific category (eg, "Coaching Legends") before each set of questions is asked. Questions range from 7 points to one point, with a 7-point question being the hardest, and a one-point question the easiest. The Schwab asks the first contestant the 7-point question, and then questions decrease in point value one-by-one. If a player does not wish to answer the question, he or she may pass. If a contestant gets a wrong answer, they're eliminated for the remainder of the topic.
Similar to "Who Am I?", but contestants bid for the right to answer a question in the fewest number of clues (similar to the Bid-a-Note round on Name That Tune
), with a lower number of clues being worth more points along the same scheme as "Who Am I?". In the most recent seasons, this style of trivia game has been used more often than "Who Am I?"
Lights, Camera, Schwab
This game involves questions about sports movies. There are four categories of questions, with each category containing a 1, 2, and 3 point question. Only 1-point questions are available at first, and higher value questions for each category cannot be heard until the lower value questions have been asked. Contestants must buzz in to answer the question. Whichever contestant has correctly answered a question last can choose the category for the next question.
Schwab's Family Album
Contestants must buzz in and identify the famous sports figure in a photograph even though the person's face is obscured with that of "The Schwab". Each correct answer is worth 1 point. Photographs are usually of famous sports moments and occasions. Most of the photos elicit a laugh from the crowd.
Contestants identify where current and former players on a specific team went to college. Generally speaking, each player is presented two lists of eight players and 30 seconds to fill each one in, and missing answers may be "stolen" by the other contestant. Each correct answer is worth 1 point. The lists follow themes, such as all famous players from a certain team, or all famous players of a certain position.
Odd Man Out
A contestant is presented 4 similar athletes on the board (for example, college basketball
players Julian Wright
, Brandon Rush
, Mario Chalmers
, and Sherron Collins
). Three of them have something in common, and a question is asked where the contestant has to determine who does not fit into the criteria of the question (ie, who is the odd man out, such as "Three of these players have scored over twenty points in a game three games a year at least. Who has not?" for the above four players). After the first athlete is eliminated, there will be another question about the three remaining, and so on until only one athlete is left on the board. A question about the remaining player is then asked. One point is awarded for each odd man out identified (for a total of four possible points per turn). Typically, each contestant has two rounds of Odd Man Out, so 8 is the maximum possible score
Contestants try to buzz in to correctly identify coaches and managers based on the clue given. The game featured a graphical "coaching ladder" the contestants climb, indicating how many points they have earned. There are usually two or three rounds. In the first rounds, each correct response is worth 1 point. In the final round, each correct response is worth 2 points, but an incorrect response will cost a point.
Dodge the Schwab
At the beginning of the game, twelve categories are presented, each about a famous sports figure. Contestants alternate choosing categories to answer. Most categories have questions that are deemed of average difficulty, but some contain hidden "diabolical" Schwab questions that are much more difficult, having been devised by the Schwab himself. If a contestant happens to choose a category that has a Schwab question, they may choose to "dodge" it and pass it to the opponent before hearing the question, rather than answer it themselves. Regular questions are worth one point, while Schwab questions are worth 2 points. However, if a contestant gets a Schwab question wrong, they lose a point.
Contestants are given an athlete and an unordered list of teams he has played for. The contestant has to put the teams in chronological order (ie, for Darryl Strawberry
, a contestant will be given Giants
, and Mets
. The correct answer would be "1, Mets, 2, Dodgers, 3, Giants, 4, Yankees."). Each contestant is given a total of 3 lists, alternating back and forth. They are given 15 seconds for each of the first two lists, and 20 seconds for the third list. Contestants are provided a paper and pen to assist themselves. A point is awarded for each team correctly put in each spot. During the time the contestant writes down his answers, Schwab will make a description of the athlete.
Stop the Presses
A contestant is given a paragraph of copy that contains one factual error. One point is awarded for identifying the error, and another point for correcting the error. However, if either part of a contestant's answer is wrong, the opponent may attempt to steal points by giving the correct answer. An example of a paragraph given is "In January 2005, in the Seattle Seahawks
' regular-season finale against the Patriots
, Shaun Alexander
watched from the sideline as time ran out, and he fell one yard short of Curtis Martin
for the NFL
rushing title." In this case, the incorrect part is the team "Patriots", which should be the Falcons
. Usually 3 paragraphs in total are given to each contestant.
Who's Got More?
A contestant is given a choice of two related statistical categories (eg, "Career Home Runs
" or "Career Stolen Bases
") and then is given up to 15 pairs of sports figures and has to name which of the two has achieved more of that category for as many pairs as they can in 40 seconds. Their opponent is then given another 15 pairs of athletes for the other category (also in 40 seconds). In round one, each correct answer is worth 1 point. In round two, each correct answer is worth 2 points.
Contestants alternate having to guess the year that an event from the world of sports took place. Each contestant starts with 100 points. For every year off, the contestant loses a point. If the exact year is guessed, the contestant gains a point. The final question given to each contestant is called the "Ultimate Year" and point values are doubled (i.e., 2 points are deducted for every year off, but 2 points are awarded for guessing the year exactly). Whichever player has less points going into the "Ultimate Year" questions is given a choice of two categories for their Ultimate Year question, followed by the opponent having to answer the question from the other category. Typically, there are 5 rounds of questions before the "Ultimate Year" questions.
This is similar to the usual way "Over/Under
" style games are played. A contestant is asked a statistical question (e.g., "How many career wins does Cy Young
have?") and the Schwab will tell the contestant if they are right or wrong. If he or she is right, they are awarded 2 points. If they are wrong, the opponent can try to guess if the correct figure is over or under what was said. If the opponent guesses correctly, they are awarded a point, and if they can then state the correct figure they are given an additional point. Schwab has openly stated that this is the easiest game for contestants and should be eliminated as they can easily guess.
On the Record
Contestants are presented with a series of famous sports-related quotes. They have to buzz in if they can identify the author of the quote. However, they must wait until the entire quote is read before attempting to buzz in. There are two rounds. In the first round, correct answers are worth one point. In the second round, they are worth two points, but an incorrect answer costs a point.
Whichever contestant has scored the most points at the end of Round Two goes on to face The Schwab in the Schwab Showdown.
The Schwab Showdown
When there is just one contestant left, he or she and "The Schwab" face off in a one-on-one battle. In this last round, there are four cleverly-named categories, each of which deal with one subject. For example, "Tough Guys" dealt with athletes named Guy, not actual tough guys. Each category has three different cards, each with a question on them. The first question in each category is worth one point, the second two, and the third three. Both the contestant and "The Schwab" are given a pass. If the contestant or "The Schwab" is unsure about an answer to a question, he or she can pass it onto the other player. However, if that player, or "The Schwab" still has their pass in possession, they can pass the question right back to the person it was first asked, who then has to answer it. Each incorrect answer is worth one strike, just like baseball
, with three strikes ending the round immediately. The game was won either by outscoring your opponent after all questions were asked or by the other player striking out. If the contestant has more points than "The Schwab", then he or she has "stumped the Schwab."
Originally, the final round was called "The Final Table," with questions worth 1, 3, and 5 points. Host Scott would give the players poker chips worth the point value of the question they answered correctly. He still places strike markers in front of the contestant and the Schwab as they are accumulated.
In the first season, "stumping the Schwab" would get a person a prize of tickets to a sporting event. If their "Schwab Showdown" score was good enough (whether or not they "stumped the Schwab"), then they would be invited back to participate in a tournament, where the grand prize would be a job working alongside "The Schwab" in the research room at ESPN, or tickets for two to five major sports championships. But, that person again had to "Stump the Schwab" to win that prize. No one won the grand prize.
In this second season, "stumping the Schwab" got a person $5,000. The semi-finals would be contested among those who won the bonus round or finished with a high enough score. Those nine players would get a chance at another $5,000 prize in the bonus, as well as a chance at the Grand Championship. If they could stump him once more in the championship round, then they got a grand prize of $25,000. Adam Garfield of Pennsylvania won season two. The finals came down to one question and the Schwab answered it correctly. Adam won a trip to the 2005 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles as a consolation prize.
In the third season, the contestant who made it to the "Schwab Showdown" earned $1,000. If that contestant "stumped the Schwab," he earned an additional $5,000 and a guaranteed spot in the semifinals. If he "stumped the Schwab" in the semifinals, it was worth $15,000. A finals win earned $30,000, so theoretically, a contestant could win up to $53,000 ($1,000 for each of the game wins + $5,000 + $15,000 + $30,000). Once again, however, at the end of the season, the Schwab won the final Schwab Showdown again, defeating Pete Fierro.
Season Four saw several scoring changes. The $1,000 for winning the game stayed intact through all the rounds, but a win in the Schwab Showdown in the first round only netted the contestant an additional $1,000. In the semifinals, that went up to $5,000 for a win in the Showdown. In the championship show, the winner of the game got to play the Schwab Showdown for a cash jackpot which started at $9,000, and had money added to it every time the Schwab won the Showdown. The pot, which reached $30,000, was not won, with Schwab defeating Marty Asalone.
In an episode that aired on May 24, 2005, "The Schwab" struck out for the very first time in the show's history, losing to a senior at Johns Hopkins University named Stephen Shukie (Schwab, by the way, is an alumnus of St. John's University) in the first college edition of the show. "The Schwab" only scored two points (two correct one point answers) in the whole round, while his opponent scored just four. In the same episode, it was the first time that the contestants (Shukie of Johns Hopkins University, Alec Tolivaisa of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Jonathan Evans of Tulane University) and the Schwab swept an entire Leading Off category (current AFC Head Coaches) without an incorrect answer.
The episode that aired September 21, 2006, saw the Schwab strike out again in the last game of the preliminary round of season 4.
If there is a tie at the end of any of the rounds, then Scott will ask a tiebreaker question, where the answer is a number. The person closest to that number wins.
In an episode from season two, "The Schwab" and Nick Dembski were tied at the end of "The Showdown." Scott then asked them how long in inches a baseball pitcher's rubber (or plate) is. Both came up with the correct answer — 24 inches — then crossed it out, and put 18 inches as their answer, forcing another tiebreaker question. The Next tiebreaker question was "Karl Malone has appeared in how many playoff games?" Dembski guessed 163; Schwab guessed 236. The correct answer was 193. Being closer to the actual answer, Dembski won the tiebreaker, and thus, the game.
The 4th Season
In the summer of 2006, auditions for the 4th season of Stump The Schwab
took place in eight U.S. Cities including Boston
, St. Louis
, Los Angeles
, and Baltimore
Beginning with the fourth season premiere on September 4, 2006, Stump The Schwab original episodes are debuting on ESPN Classic.
Schwab is informed ahead of time what topics are going to be asked during the Schwab Showdown round in each episode. However, he does not know what the individual questions are.
In the championship episode, contestant Marty Asalone scored entirely perfectly in Round 2, playing "Remember When". He then went on to lose to the Schwab in the Schwab Showdown.
Also, for only the second time in show history, a contestant stumped the Schwab twice. Brian Sandalow, then a University of Missouri journalism student, beat the Schwab in both the preliminary and semifinal shows. He did not get a chance to beat Schwab a third time, falling in the championship show's "Leading Off" round.
Schwab's record in the Schwab Showdown over the first 4 seasons of the show is 64-16.
During the show, Stuart Scott has affected some common expressions that he uses. These include:
- "Hugs and hand pounds, everybody." (at the end of the show, he also said it on Teammates, another ESPN show)
- "Big ups!"
- "Don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you."
- "Ballllinnn!" (whenever a player won some cash)
- "Sticky stay" (before commercial breaks)
- "Oh, he done gone crazy!"
- "Let's get it crackin'."
- "Let's get it poppin'."
- "The Schwab-izzle"
- "In the hizzle"
- "In the hizzy"
- "Y'all done run the table, son!"
- "Tar Heel!" (every time a UNC player is mentioned)
- "You have as many points as I do. And I ain't playin'." (when a player has 0 points)
- "Don't be scared." (pronounced as "scurred")
- "I have more points than you. And I'm not playin'!" (said to contestants with a negative score)
- "It was tragic." (often said when referencing Len Bias, who had died only hours after being picked to be an NBA player for the Boston Celtics)
He also tells the losing contestants who don't make it to the next round that they get a consolation prize-- which is something he makes up (e.g., "a bag of peanuts").
Stuart Scott also throws the cards that contain the questions for the Schwab showdown. He usually makes a clean throw, although a few times has made errant ones.
Contestants Who Have Stumped The Schwab
Here is an incomplete list of contestants who have stumped the Schwab, either by accruing more points than him in the Schwab Showdown, by forcing the Schwab to strike out, or by beating him in a tiebreaker:
||Stumped the Schwab a second time when he returned for the semifinals |
||Won in a double-tiebreaker, as described above |
||Two time winner, second by tiebreaker |
||New York, New York |
||New York, New York |
||West Hartford, Connecticut
||First contestant to cause the Schwab to strike out, thereby winning the College Edition of the show |
||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania |
||Albany, New York
||A Season 3 contestant who came back in Season 4 |
||Irving, Texas |
||Pasadena, California |
||Stumped the Schwab in the sportscaster edition, in a tie-breaker, after both he and the Schwab had a perfect final round with no strikes and no passes. He is the Sports analyst for WISN 12 News, the ABC affiliate in Milwaukee. |
||Dallas, Texas |
||Culver City, California |
||Was down 5-6 going into the final question, admitted that he was guessing the answer, and guessed correctly that Steve Garvey was the player who holds the National League record for consecutive games played with 1,207. |