Friday’s media column focuses on how ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit walks a funny line between traitor and homer in the eyes of beer-bonged Ohio State football fans — those who remember him as the quarterback and captain of the 1992 season, as the son of another former Buckeye captain who later coached under Woody Hayes, and as the family man who lives just a couple miles off campus, doing a daily radio show on the team’s flagship station.
There’s a promo running now (created by L.A.-based Ground Zero) on ESPN for “College GameDay” that has Herbstreit getting into a sticky situation with USC coach Pete Carroll (above) that must be viewed (linked here) at the College GameDay official site. (Watch Corso’s reaction when the phone rings in the ice-cream truck tone a second time). Make sure you click on the box “True” at the end of the promo to see video of Carroll’s response — “He needs a lot of help after working with Lee all these years.”
Here’s another way to access the video (linked here) and view it full screen on your desktop.
Herbstreit has no doubt that his alma mater, which has qualified for the BCS title game the last two seasons but has hardly been impressive, will have much more at stake in Saturday’s game against USC — but then, so does the Big Ten, which has taken a lot of abuse from fans in the last couple of years.
“It goes back to the 2006 debate over whether Florida or Michigan should be in the national championship game. It was heated. Florida went and dominated Ohio State, and Michigan was dominated by USC (in the Rose Bowl). Those were two embarassing moments.
“Since then, it’s been guilt by association. Michigan was embarassed by Appalacian State (in the ’07 season opener). Ohio State was outmanned again by the SEC (in the BCS title game). All the of sudden, the momentum and perception is almost out of control.
“Now, Ohio State struggles with Ohio (last week), and I was in Gainsville, Fla. (home of the Florida Gators, doing ‘GameDay’) and you can imagine what I was hearing: ‘Don’t worry, the Big Ten schedule will start soon, things will get easier.’
“This game is a perfect storm. Never in my lifetime have I seen the Big Ten viewed as poorly universally as it is now. Now, they’re on the big stage again. If you took a poll outside the Big Ten of fans, they’d say the Big Ten was the biggest fraud in college football. When they take the field, that’s the perception. If Ohio State loses 38-13, they can win every other game by 50 points, but that’s a non-factor the rest of the year. If they lose 23-20, they’ve earned some respect from those who objectively view it. If they win, obviously, they can win some respect and credibility back. There’s no doubt that’s a huge subplot in this game, for Ohio State and for the conference.”