Award-winning analyst Kirk Herbstreit will be in the booth for ESPN’s telecast of the inaugural College Football Playoff Championship Game between Oregon and Ohio State, the announcer’s alma mater.
Herbstreit, 45, has the experience in the big games as a player and analyst. He’s called 8 Rose Bowl games and 7 Bowl Championship Series title games with former broadcast partner Brent Musberger. He also played in the 1993 Citrus Bowl, but came out on the losing end of a 21-14 game to Georgia.
Beginning this season, Herbstreit was paired with fellow ESPN College GameDay host Chris Fowler to call the weekly Saturday Night Football games on ABC. The duo will call the action Monday night.
Here’s all you need to know about Herbstreit:
1. Herbstreit Joined ESPN College GameDay in 1996
Herbstreit joined ESPN’s College Gameday in 1996, teaming with Fowler and Lee Corso. Herbstreit has earned 7 nominations and 2 Sports Emmy Awards for Best Studio Analyst (2010 and 2011) for his work.
He originally joined ESPN in 1995 as a sideline analyst. He quickly moved up the ranks, moving to GameDay then into the announcing booth. He cut his teeth on color commentary from 1999-2006 on ESPN’s Thursday night series.
2. Herbstreit Played Quarterback at Ohio State
Herbstreit was a quarterback for Ohio State from 1989-92, though he didn’t see much action until his senior season. He didn’t exactly pile up the numbers – just 5 touchdown passes and 2,437 yards for his career.
His final season, Herbstreit completed 155 of 264 passes for 1,904 yards with 4 TDs and 6 interceptions.
Ohio State ran an option-style offense, limiting Herbstreit’s passing numbers. As a starter he was 9-4-1.
Herbstreit was the 1988 Gatorade High School Player of The Year out of Centerville High in Ohio.
Herbstreit didn’t get a sniff from the NFL, but he’s done just fine off the field.
3. Herbstreit Chose a Talk Radio Gig Over a Pharmaceutical Sales Job Out of College
When Herbstreit was a senior at Ohio State, he had a decision to make about his future: talk radio or pharmaceutical sales. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 1993.
In a story by foxsports.com, Herbstreit said he was offered a pharmaceutical sales job for $80,000 per year with a bunch of perks and benefits.
He also had a $12,000 per year radio gig on the table. With no perks.
Herbstreit said he went back-and-forth all summer on his decision. He said he even filled out the paperwork and submitted to urine tests for the sales job.
He chose the radio job. And the rest is history.
4. Herbstreit Married a Former Ohio State Cheerleader
Herbstreit met an Ohio State cheerleader named Allison Butler when they were both attending the school. The two married in 1998 and have 4 sons, Tye, Chase, Zak and Jake.
In 2011, the family moved to Nashville from Ohio because of “relentless” Buckeyes fans, who accused Herbstreit of being overly-critical of the team.
At the time, Herbstreit told the Columbus Dispatch:
“Eighty to ninety percent of the Ohio State fans are great. It’s the vocal minority that make it rough. They probably represent only 5 to 10 percent of the fan base, but they are relentless.”
5. Herbstreit Once Falsely Reported Les Miles Was Michigan-Bound
Back in 2007, Herbstreit reported LSU coach Les Miles was going to leave the Tigers to become head coach at Michigan, Miles’ alma mater. It was the morning of the SEC Championship Game, a contest Miles and LSU were playing in.
LSU quickly called a press conference and Miles denied the report. And he didn’t seem happy.
Miles apparently hasn’t forgotten. Earlier this season, he got a dig in on Herbstreit prior to the LSU-Ole Miss game.
Herbstreit and College GameDay were going to be in Baton Rouge that weekend and one of their segments is when they have a guest game picker on set.
When asked by media members who he’d choose as the guest picker, Miles quipped:
“I can only tell you, (I’d pick) the guys that have been wrong. I want the guy to be wrong again. Whoever the guy that has been consistently wrong, he needs to pick again. Or, that guy that has always picked LSU, either one. I’d have to go back and check their records. I’d have to say (Kirk) Herbstreit made a wrong pick, it wouldn’t be the worst thing I ever heard if he made the wrong pick again. And yet there’s probably some guys out there that have made the right picks and to me I’d like to kind of make the right pick, whichever pick that is. I’d pick Shaq in every way, in one-on-one and picking.”