Over the weekend I saw some tweets and a Dispatch article about ESPN commentator Kirk Herbstreit and his family leaving Columbus and moving to Nashville Tennessee. That struck me as odd since Herbie is a dyed in the wool Buckeye. The reason he gave to the Dispatch was that relentless fans were driving him out of town. His reason didn’t surprise me.
Former player and ESPN commentator Kirk Herbstreit said he and his family are moving to Nashville, Tenn., 10TV News reported.
Herbstreit told the Columbus Dispatch that in his role with ESPN he has to be objective about the Buckeyes.
He said most fans understand that, but said a small percentage of them are so relentless in criticizing him that he has to move.
I met Kirk in the fall of 1988 when he was a freshman at Ohio State. The then new head coach John Cooper had decided that freshman football players needed to be more social with regular students like myself, so the players were housed in Morrill and Lincoln Dorms next door to Ohio Stadium. My room in Lincoln that year was in the same suite as Kirk and several other freshman football players.
There was Kirk and his roommate Paul. Next door was Len Hartman and his roommate Judah Herman – both would become starters for Ohio State in their years there. There were two more players in the other dorm room but I can’t remember their names. I really got to know and hang out with Kirk, Paul, and some with Len and Judah.
Kirk back then was typically shy with any new person but once we all got to know each other he opened right up and was fun to hang out with. He had the confidence and arrogance that comes with a hotshot football player. He liked to party and be with his girlfriend at the time. For someone like me, a lifetime OSU fan, it was fantastic when we would get treated better because Kirk was with us.
I remember going to a huge house party off campus where many OSU players showed up. Watching basketball player Chris Jent escorting not one but three dates around was awesome in my immature mind at the time.
Kirk brought his Nintendo game system to school and based it in my room because he didn’t want people traipsing through his room. We would play RBI Baseball all the time. Kirk played the Detroit Tigers and knew some way to make sure he won each game. He would hit the game winning home run, drop the controller and leave the room. It drove all of us nuts and we spent most of the year trying to figure out how to beat Kirk. During Spring Quarter we did finally beat him. There was a crowd in our room often for these games. We also played Tecmo Bowl football a lot.
I also remember he didn’t take criticism well. He hated not being liked. He was used to being told how great he was especially as a player but when he got to Ohio State some people didn’t like him and we heard the stories when he complained about it and we knew it bothered him.
“Relentless fans” have been the bane of his existence during his time with ESPN. I admire his effort to not be a Homer for Ohio State and think he gets too much grief here in Columbus for trying to be impartial.
What is a “Homer”?
What is a homer? I’m glad you asked. It is being a committed hometown or favorite team fan to a fault. This is a sports syndrome that many people get when they stop looking at something objectively and are subject to regional and cultural biases surrounding them. Fantasy football team owners: we are not general managers in the NFL, so stop saying “WE” when you address your favorite team. Stop jumping on your team’s, coaches, GM’s and owner’s back every time something happens that you didn’t like.
Most of the Columbus media are “Homers” toward OSU but Herbstreit is not. I think that’s why the relentless fans harp on him so much. He has a premier gig as ESPN commentator doing many of the big games. Some of them include Ohio State and some fans expect him to show bias toward OSU during the broadcasts.
It’s funny because there are several former players that work other sports like Clark Kellogg in basketball and I don’t see them getting hassled but then again maybe they do but it doesn’t bother them as much.
I actually feel bad that Kirk felt he needed to move away but knowing him like I do, it doesn’t surprise me.