Kirk Herbstreit has said many things over the years that have caught heat for him, but nothing has brought him so much backlash than when he said college players do not love football as much as they did decades ago.
Herbstreit criticized players who opt out of bowl games during ESPN’s “College GameDay” show on Saturday.
“Isn’t that what we do as football players, we compete? I don’t know if changing it, expanding it is going to change anything, I really don’t,” Herbstreit said. “I think this era of player just doesn’t love football.”
Herbstreit tweeted an attempt to “clarify” what he said on GameDay later Saturday.
He followed that up with an appearance alongside Matt Barrie on The ESPN College Football Podcast, where he offered up a lengthy explanation.
“That was an 8-minute conversation. I wonder how many people who had a comment or a headline or one quote watched the entire 8-minute conversation between the 4 of us,” Herbstreit said. “There was a lot of things said during those 8 minutes. The one thing I said that seemed to capture the headlines for people’s own agenda and that’s all they went with was players don’t love college football the way they used to. Rece (Davis) came back at me and said that’s a sweeping comment, ‘Are you saying all players?’
And I said, ‘No, I’m not saying all players, I’m saying some players, that’s their lens.’ I’ve not only covered this sport front row for 26 years, I have 4 sons that are 21 years old and younger, forget football. I’ve watched how they’ve grown up. I’ve watched how their friends have grown up. I don’t know if there’s anyone more plugged into this generation than me. Two of my 4 boys play Power 5 football, so again, maybe there’s somebody that’s more plugged in or can relate to 21 and younger, I’d love to meet them, compared to what I’ve done for the last 26 years. I’m not out of touch by any stretch of the imagination.”
“I think if anything, I’d like to go back, and when you do live TV without a script, you say things and it’s a heat-of-the-moment debate and are you always going to use the most concise and perfect word or sentence, not always. Just to tell you what I was trying to say, there are 2 lenses or lanes that college football players currently are in,” he said. “There is a lane that you leave high school football, your only goal is 3 years and I’m going to the NFL, and again that’s your prerogative by the way … you’re there for a pit stop, it’s a transaction, bounce, 3 years, I’m gone.
By the way some coaches get on that same path, and for a player that does that, I don’t think they’re really interested in getting to know the university, or spending time there beyond just 3 years and out. I don’t recommend that view, but if that’s how you’re looking at college football, then that’s your prerogative. There are other kids who look at it, have the same goals. Go to the NFL, but while they’re there, they kind of plant some roots, they make some relationships, they’re humble about their experience, they’re meeting people, they realize, hey man, I don’t want to put all my eggs into one basket in the NFL. I want to go to the NFL and I am going to the NFL, but when I’m done playing, whether it’s my education, my relationships I made here, I’m going to have a community to fall back on.”
The criticism of players from Herbstreit and Howard was simply wrong, especially when coaches have been known to pack up and leave without a moment’s notice.
Players are opting out of bowl games to preserve their bodies for potentially lucrative NFL careers. Risking everything for one more game is simply not worth it whether he likes it or not. We are in a different day and time.WANT MORE FROM TOTALPROSPORTS? FOLLOW US ON GOOGLE NEWS.