Matt Youmans is Host of My Guys In The Desert and VSiN's Senior Editor.
Youmans joined VSiN after 24 years in the newspaper business. He spent the past 16½ years at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where he was the sports betting columnist and a 10-year beat writer covering UNLV basketball. He also covered the NFL and the Oakland Raiders' proposed relocation to Las Vegas. For the past seven years, he has co-hosted The Las Vegas Sportsline, a sports betting show, on ESPN Radio. He previously worked at newspapers in Indianapolis and suburban Chicago. He was a beat writer for the Bulls' final two NBA championship teams in 1997 and 1998 and also covered NFL (Bears), MLB (White Sox) and Big Ten basketball and football beats. A 1992 graduate of Purdue University, he relocated to Las Vegas in August 2000.
Odds and ends …
"When I lived in Chicago, almost every vacation I took was to Las Vegas. I loved the intense heat, the 24-hour lifestyle and the sports betting, so I drove out in a Jeep Wrangler and made the trip in 30 hours. It was the realization of a dream to get here, and I’m never leaving.
"As a kid, as early as elementary school, I was intrigued by football handicapping. I would study the betting lines in the morning paper, circle the teams I thought would cover the spread and grade my picks by the scores in the next day’s paper. I ran football pools in high school and was a small-scale bookmaker for a while in college.
"I had a letter to the editor published in Sports Illustrated early in high school. It was January 1986 after the Bears won the Super Bowl. But I never planned on a sportswriting career. I wanted to be a broadcaster and especially admired the styles of Howard Cosell and Brent Musburger.
"I was a good athlete in every sport but not great in any one. My dream was to pitch in the minor leagues, preferably for the New York Yankees. I went to some tryout camps, but never made it. All I do now is golf in the summer. I like to drive to Death Valley and play 18 when the temperature hits 120.
"My favorite book is Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson.
"Evel Knievel, Ken Stabler and Jerry Tarkanian are my favorite characters in sports history.
"I played intramural basketball at Purdue with Glenn Robinson when he was sitting out as a freshman. In the all-campus league, we won every game in a blowout until losing in the finals on a last-second shot. I met Drew Brees before his freshman season at Purdue. After talking with him for about 30 minutes one day, I predicted to a friend that Brees, an overlooked recruit at the time, was destined to be a star quarterback.
"The most memorable stories I covered in Las Vegas: Greg Maddux of the Cubs winning his 300th game in San Francisco in 2004; Lon Kruger coaching the Rebels to the NCAA Sweet 16 with a win in Chicago in 2007; Bryce Harper’s journey to becoming MLB’s No. 1 pick in 2010.
"My favorite actors are Clint Eastwood and Paul Newman.
"Led Zeppelin is my favorite band.
"My favorite vacation spots now are San Diego for the horse races, Hawaii and Jaco Beach, Costa Rica.
"The most memorable game I covered was Game 6 of the NBA Finals in 1998, when Michael Jordan hit the winning shot in Salt Lake City."