'Summer Camp' Q&A: Matt Rogers

Dawgman.com spoke Monday night with former UW offensive linemen Matt Rogers, who helped the Huskies win their last Rose Bowl back in January 2001. Ever since his days on 'American Idol', Rogers has been in demand and is now the host for a new show on USA called 'Summer Camp', a show billed as 'Wipeout meets Big Brother', complete with competitions and reality-based television.

Rogers talked about his role as the show's host, his days with UW Football, and a surprise or two about Boise State.

On if there's going to be any U-Dub related things in the show people can look forward to seeing? - "Once in a while I always throw in the Rose Bowl ring just to let people recognize that Washington greatness is amongst the national television scene. I always try to work it in, but there's licensing and copyright issues so they never let me do it. But I'll give a couple U-Dub references, like when I played in the Rose Bowl or when I was a football player at Washington…I'm kind of the color commentator guy for a lot of the color wars - they are like the challenges - so I definitely throw some football references in there, and it's always U-Dub."

How did his football experience translate into what you're doing in Hollywood right now? - "In terms of the work ethic, it was instilled in me because of football. I've been a part of a lot of football teams and a lot of sports teams, but that '01 team - we definitely did not have the fastest guys, we didn't have the best guys, but we had the best team. We worked together better than anyone. That team has taught me how to work with people in this business because there's so many different types of people. I lean more toward the conservative side in my beliefs and I'm in LA. I'm surrounded by a ton of liberals. But it doesn't matter to me because you learn how to work with different types of personalities, different types of people. We're all working toward the same goal, which is to make great TV. With football, you don't get along with everyone on the team, but you're all working toward the same goal - and that's kind of like how it has spilled over into this career. I love people and I love working with people. I treat the janitor the same as I treat the vice president of NBC. I treat people the same, and the fundamentals of football have definitely spilled over into success in the television world."

Was it always your intent to do more entertainment-based TV instead of sports-related TV? - "When I was five years old I knew I wanted to be on television, so that goal was always in the back of my mind. So any time we started having success at U-Dub with football, I always tried to be the guy doing interviews. I always tried to be the guy on the cover of the magazines. I wanted to be in that scene; I wanted to be that guy. I loved…I knew I couldn't play football forever and I knew I wasn't the best offensive lineman on that team. I was fourth or fifth-best out of seven solid offensive linemen, so I knew that there were a lot better football players than me out there. I knew that feeling of coming out of the tunnel with 100,000 fans screaming for you wasn't going to last forever. The only thing I found to replace that was when the little tiny red dot comes on the video camera. That freaking gives me the same feeling as walking out of the tunnel in front of 100,000 people. And that's something I can do until my last breath. Dick Clark proved that."

Was it a no-brainer to do this show? Did it make sense for you right now? - "It's a little bit looser than my normal style of show. I mean…put it this way: We're doing some fun camp stuff in the day, and at night time you give these young adults food and a bunch of alcohol and let the reality show begin. So that's a little more toward a different style than what I normally do, but I grew up in camp. I'm a summer camp kid. I've loved camping my entire life. I'm also a competitor. I love the games. So for me this was the perfect type of show because this is a chance for young adults to go back to the most magical time of their lives and do summer camp all over again. If I could have been a contestant, I totally would have. The show is that much fun and it's that good and the cast members are phenomenal. I could not have thought of 16 better people to put on the show. It's perfect."

How does the show feed your competitive jones? - "It definitely takes on a feel of its own, but the gaming aspect of it…I'm the color commentator guy. So I understand the game better than any of the contestants. I get to run through it, I get to explain it to them. I get to be kind of the coach AND the teammate. I'm cheering both sides on, but at the same time I'm coaching, I'm explaining it to them, I'm facilitating the game…it just makes me feel like I'm a part of it. When I stopped playing in '01 when my playing career was over, I went straight into coaching. Even coaching high school football still made me feel like I was a part of the game. This is kind of that same feeling. Hosting this TV show…as a viewer, and that's what I try to do as a host of the show…I try to bring the viewer into the game to where you're literally on the edge of your seat wondering who is going to win. And more importantly, if you watch the show you're going to wish it was you doing that in Summer Camp, because all the games are really fun."

How much are you integrated into the show, into the story? - "There's three parts to the show. There's picking a camp counselor, which is kind of like your leader of the camp for that week. So I'm involved in that. And then there's the color war. I'm involved in the color war. And then there's the banishment and elimination, and I run that as well. So you're going to see me all throughout the show, as well as kind of the facilitator. But at the end of the day it's about these 16 people and these 16 people going back and doing it themselves. The best part of the show is not me explaining the game; the best part of the show is watching a girl who was chubby when she was 15 and now she comes back at 30 years old and she's a smoking hot supermodel…and she's getting to do camp all over again. There's this guy who was a nerdy kid, and now he's a really good-looking country music cowboy. The cast is what makes the show. It's definitely not me as the host. You're going to want to tune in for the cast and what happens outside of the color wars, because it's a really good show."

Does your career still allow you to be tied into the game with coaching or anything else? - "I help my alma mater. The guy that played right next to me on the offensive line is now the head coach, so I help him now in terms of fundraising and booster stuff. It bums me out because I'm so busy now…I thank God for that…but I can't. Coaching now is a full-time job and I can't do it. But once I get the TV stuff out of the way and you don't have to worry about money anymore and you get to the Ryan Seacrest level I'll definitely go back to coaching."

How close do you keep in touch with your teammates from the Rose Bowl team? - "One-hundred percent. The guys that I was closest with…Dom Daste, who now is coaching at UNLV, we're tight friends. Elliot Silvers, John Hart, Pat Conniff, Chad Ward - that's kind of like my core six guys. Of course Tui…we all try to hang out with our wives at least once or twice a year. I sang at Tui's wedding, all their weddings I always sing at…of course we're all married off now. I stay super close with all those guys and involve them in everything and they involve me in everything too. The thing I like about the coaching staff now at U-Dub is that it got really weird when Willingham was there to where we…not only did it suck because we were losing games, but there was a disconnect. There was no pride and tradition in bringing the old guys back and that's one of the things I love about Sarkisian. He's from the outside but he's brought the old tradition back in to where now feel like we're part of the family again. I've talked to him on the phone and when I'm in town I head over to their chapel the night before games. It's fun. I'm really excited about Washington Football, that's for damn sure."

Do you have plans to come up for Boise State and the unveiling of the renovated Husky Stadium? - "I've got sideline passes to the Boise State game, and I'm working on singing the National Anthem for that game too. That's something I'd love to do. It's not confirmed yet but I want to do it. I'm working on it. Just write if they don't have Matt Rogers since the National Anthem for the Boise State game, it's a bad decision."

Anything else you want to pass on to the UW fans? - "Just the sense of pride that comes along with U-Dub Football. The city of Seattle was extremely gracious to me when I was coming out of football. When I got officially cut by the (Cincinnati) Bengals and I knew football was not going to be in my future…I was 21 years old. When you've been working 16 years to be a professional football player and you thought it was going to happen your entire life and it doesn't happen it's a hard pill to swallow. The support I got from my coaching staff and people around the community - what do you need Matt? Anything you need. You need a job, a place to stay? It felt really good. I came home and luckily I had good parents to take care of me, but that support stayed with me forever. I'm super proud to be a Washington Husky, that's for damn sure."

To find out more about Matt's new show 'Summer Camp', click HERE. The show's debut airs Thursday night at 8 pm.


Dawgman.com Top Stories