My favorite college football analyst is Kirk Herbstreit.
If not for Dandy Don Meredith, Herbstreit would be my favorite analyst of all-time. Well, my time anyway.
So when Herbstreit came out with “Out of the Pocket,” I couldn’t wait to pour myself into it, knowing it would be a great read.
I wasn’t disappointed at all.
The frankness and sincerity jumped off every page.
The read was so enjoyable, it was as if I were traveling along right with him, through his tough years of growing up in a sometimes troubled home, to his playing days at Centreville High in Ohio, to his playing and not-playing days at Ohio State.
And then the real good stuff of talking about his journey on Gameday.
Herbstreit does not sugarcoat any part of his journey. He is very honest about his clashes with his father, his football coaches, and even co-workers.
And his fondness and respect for Chris Flower and Lee Corso (he would have lost me with anything negative about Corso) was so genuine. And fun to read.
I love the way Herbstreit kept everything in perspective.
As in this excerpt.
“Back in Woody’s and Bo’s day, even back in my day, those rosters were primarily Ohio and Michigan kids who went to bed thinking about that rivalry. On that Saturday in November, they wanted to kill each other. But after the game was done, there was a bond between those opposing players, a respect forged because of that rivalry. Even today, if I run into a Michigan man, I’ll say, “You played at Michigan? What’s up?”
Today’s players respect the rivalry, but many of them don’t grow up with it like I did, like Desmond did, like the Ohio and Michigan high school kids do. Plus, the rivalry has become a feeding ground for internet trolls who live to blame somebody for something. Their day isn’t complete without spreading their toxins negativity. They’re’ mad because their team lost. They want the coach fired, the offensive coordinator demoted, the starting quarterback replaced, the referee punished. They’re less interested in supporting their team than they are in finding reasons not to support it. And if their teams wins, they run their negativity toward the opposing team and fans. Those people haver undermined the class and stature of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry.”
I think every college football fan can relate.
Herbstreit’s wish list for Gameday includes Peyton Manning and Kevin Hart.
Katy Perry is his all-time favorite guest picker. Herbstreit states she didn’t know anything about football, but agreed to come on the set after a request from her manager after a concert in Memphis.
Perry’s manager is a huge Ole Miss fan, and she happened to be on the set for the Ole MIss-LSU game.
Herbstreit said Perry requested corn dogs (most will get it, a giant pencil, which the Ole Miss woodshed came up with, a Trevor Knight cutout stick, a cutout stick of Herbstreit when he played for Ohio State, and a tray of hot toddies.
“She was coached up,” Herbstreit said.
Herbstreit talks about the Bill Murray showed up just a minute for his appearance at a Clemson game, how on the demo set he was hitting real golf balls into the crowd and threw a Florida State spear at the cheerleaders, He gave his suite tickets to four strangers across the street and said he needed four more.
He also body-slammed Corso.
Herbstreit said Charles Barkley was the only guest picker who didn’t need notes.
He also talked about his close friend Chris Fallica, known as Bear. Bear controlled the remote during time away from the set. Without warning he would go for a game to a horse race and begin yelling at the horse and jockey. If he horse lost, he would go into a funk.
Herbstriet talked about how much he sweated, and even had an air conditioner under his table no matter the freezing temperatures.
Sideline report Maria Taylor would have full sweats and a blanket on plane trips with the crew because Herbstreit had to have it like a meat locker.
There was also a great story about how Lee Corso began wearing the mascot headgear during his picks.
Herbstreit’s wife (his girlfriend at the time) is a former cheerleader at Ohio State. Corso asked Herbstreit to ask Allison if she would contact the Ohio State cheerleading coach about the possibility of borrowing the Brutus Buckeye mascot head.
The cheerleader coach refused
Corso asked Herbstreit to ask Allison to try again.
This time he request began to move up the Ohio State chain of command. Then athletic director Andy Geiger approved the request.
It was obviously a big hit, although Herbstreit admitted he thought it was a one and done deal.
Then there was the 1996 LSU-Alabama game with Warren Morris as guest picker not long after his epic home run to win the World Series.
“It was like a 72-hour Mardi Gras,” Herbstriet said of being at LSU. “Even now if you had me close my eyes and took me to an unclosed camp the morning of a game I could pick out LSU just based on the old smells. And maybe the smell of bourbon, too.”
Corso pulled on the elephant head and yelled Roll Tide for his pick.
“I turned to look at the crowd and that’s when I saw this golf ball flying towards us on a line,”Herbstreit said. “It hit the pole and bounced into my hands. Coach just kept on yelling. ‘Roll Tide’”
Alabama won that game 26-0
Herbstreit opened up about becoming popular through Gameday and the effect it had on his family, especially his sons.
His family had to deal with some abuse from over the top fans.
As an LSU fan, I know how some fans can be an embarrassment.
Herbstriet talked about how great the Ohio State fanbase is, but mentioned the 10 percent who think the head coach should be fired, the quarterback should be replaced, the defensive coordinator should be demoted and the refs should be investigated for taking bribes.
Yes, they don’t just reside in Tiger Stadium. Although saying only 10 percent may be a bit generous.
Heibstreit also touches on NIL and the transfer portal.
He knows something drastic needs to be done if college football wants parity.
“Right now if the system remains the same, I can tell you that Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State are likely to be in the playoff in 2021, 2022, 2023 and beyond/It’s just a matter of who the fourth team is going to be,” he said.
Herbstreit made a valid point about college football teams and conferences uniting for the game.
“If we learned anything about college football in 2020, we learned that the conferences have their own best interest in mind. The SEC is about the SEC, the Big Ten about the Big Ten, and so on. Otherwise there would have been a unified decision on how best to approach football in the COVID-19 era.”`
Thanks again for the fun read, Kirk. And you just moved ahead of Dandy Don. Turn out the lights, the party’s over.