Kirk Herbstreit is going to need Secret Service for future visits to Athens, Ga.

Kirk Herbstreit is going to need Secret Service for future visits to Athens, Ga.

Perhaps the juiciest story to come out of college football’s National Signing Day centered not on a recruit but an ESPN analyst. According to Dominic Raiola, father of top three QB recruit Dylan Raiola, Kirk Herbstriet reached out to him to endorse Dylan flipping from Georgia to Nebraska.

Here’s what the elder Raiola told Rivals:

“When this was happening, I will bring up one guy’s name. His name’s Kirk Herbstreit. When he saw the smoke about Dylan entertaining Nebraska, he called me. He said, ‘Dude, is this true? [Dylan] got to do it. He got to do it.’ [Herbstreit’s] affinity for Nebraska, for a guy like that to tell me and get behind me. Like, I knew, I knew [Dylan] needed to do it. But I wasn’t going to sit here and say, ‘You need to go change that place or be a part of the change of that place.’ So when Kirk told me that, man. I had other coaches reach out to me and say, ‘The place is special. Coach (Matt) Rhule is a special leader.’ It just snowballed into something really beautiful at the end of the day, and we’re really proud of the decision [Dylan] made,” Raiola said.

For those who don’t know, Dominic was an All-American at Nebraska, and it’s clear he still loves the Big Red. While it’s nice to hear that he wanted to stay hands-off with his son’s decision, passing along favorable anecdotes about Rhule from Herbstreit and other coaches clearly helped sway Dylan’s choice to become a Cornhusker.

This is where things get dicey because nothing stays a secret in college football anymore. There are too many outlets, too many Twitter sleuths, and too much coverage. For Herbstreit to allegedly call a recruit’s dad, unsolicited, and shill for Rhule, solely because he likes him, is stupid to the nth degree. If you’re the most visible college football analyst in the country, maybe send a text, or have your alter ego, Kirk Henry, reach out with an atta boy.

You’d think ESPN’s recent Sports Emmy embarrassment would’ve prompted a little more discretion and self-preservation. I guess when you get that Thursday Night Football money, something in your DNA changes and you’re able to levitate above journalistic ethics and common sense.

Regardless of the validity of the report, Georgia fans are going to run with this and tout it as gospel. And why wouldn’t they? The Huskers lost more games last season than the Bulldogs have since 2019. UGA is objectively the better program right now and probably will be after Dylan graduates or turns pro.

I don’t know if Dawgs fans will ever accept Raiola’s decision, but given his family ties to Nebraska, they might’ve at least understood it. However, they will never get past their dislike for Herbstreit and now hold a heavy disdain for an impressionable 18-year-old kid just trying to do what’s in his best interests.

This also comes after ESPN acquired the rights to SEC football, so in addition to pissing off UGA, Herbstreit likely upset his employer for directing talent to the rival conference and network. I don’t know when College Gameday will be in Athens next, but it’ll likely come before they go back to Lincoln, and I can guarantee you Herby will be violently booed whenever it’s his turn to talk. I would say just wait and see what the signs hold in store, but my guess is most will violate FCC standards/not make it on air.

This is a terrible look for a guy who played in the Big Ten, and made even worse because Herbstreit will presumably call a lot of games between the hedges going forward. College football fans hold grudges for generations, love a good conspiracy theory, and, writ large, might be the nastiest sect of sports fans in the country. (Soccer supporters take the cake internationally.) We’re talking about people who actively follow and tweet at high schoolers, so, yeah, collude at your own risk, Kirk.

Original source here

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About the Author

Anthony Barnett
Anthony is the author of the Science & Technology section of ANH.