TRANSCRIPT: ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit Previews College Football Rivalry Week –No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State and ABC Saturday Night Football’s No. 15 Notre Dame at No. 6 USC

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TRANSCRIPT: ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit Previews College Football Rivalry Week –No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State and ABC Saturday Night Football’s No. 15 Notre Dame at No. 6 USC

Emmy Award-winning ESPN analyst will be in Columbus for College GameDay Built by The Home Depot and call the Fighting Irish-Trojans in Los Angeles on Saturday

On Tuesday, Emmy Award-winning ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit previewed college football’s Rivalry Week on a media conference call. Herbstreit discussed No. 3 Michigan at No. 2 Ohio State – site of this week’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot (Saturday: 9 a.m. – noon, ESPN & ESPNU) – ABC’s Saturday Night Football matchup between No. 15 Notre Dame and No. 6 USC (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC), which he will call with Chris Fowler and reporter Holly Rowe. (ESPN’s entire Week 13 schedule.)

Saturday’s College GameDay marks the premier pregame show’s record 22nd visit all-time to Columbus and the ninth time the show will originate from the Michigan-Ohio State game.

Herbstreit’s comments from the conference call, which have been edited slightly for brevity (Note: key topics are highlighted): 

Knowing Michigan and Ohio State don’t really like each other, how much is the revenge factor going to play into this year’s game?

Herbstreit: Anytime you’re in a rivalry game and you have a game the year before that doesn’t go the way you had hoped, and there was a lot on the line and you lose it, it’s always going to create, I think, a ton of energy from within a program. So I think that’s just true for any rivalry. But when you throw it into this particular one, where Ohio State’s had the upper hand in recent years and then Michigan put their entire season into beating Ohio State, and to their credit, they did. And it wasn’t just that they did. They ran for 297 yards and the running back had a big day and they were able to have maybe the great moment, maybe the best moment in college football. We looked at that crowd on the field where Ohio State lived that.

So then they went into their weight room their entire offseason, and they thought about that game and probably did conditioning in February, March and April and May and June and July and August for that game, more so than what they’ve done in years past. So it definitely intensified, I’m sure from their perspective. And I think for Michigan, it’s about going on the road and proving that last year is not something that was an outlier, that they can do it again. And for Ohio State, I’m sure it’s about getting back home and avenging last year’s setback for sure.

In terms of pinnacle matchups of Ohio State/Michigan – whether it’s No. 1 vs. 2 in ‘06 or No. 2 vs. 3 in ‘16, how does this one compare, and how important is it to the rivalry to have these seemingly winner-take-all matchups when it comes to the Big 10 and the college football playoff?

Herbstreit: I think it’s great, but I grew up in the Big 10. I’m a fan of the rivalry. I lived it my whole life. I was fortunate enough to be actually a participant in it and then left it as a player and became an analyst. And to me there’s nothing greater than when Ohio State and Michigan get on the field together. For me, just how I was, my lens. I always go back to being a kid. If you could be 42 degrees and overcast, it’s like perfect for me. I don’t like the sun to be out on that day with the uniforms on the field together. For me, I think it just pops. Last year was perfect with the snow. So I love it. I think it’s great. I was pulling for Michigan last week to be able to win their game against Illinois and was hoping that the two teams would get to this point where it was winner take all kind of vibe to it.

Who knows, by the way, with the college football rankings, with everything that’s happening. I guess you could come up with a way that the loser of this game, if it’s a hard-fought game, might still be alive. So I don’t know if it is truly winner take all, but it certainly feels that way when you show up undefeated vs. undefeated and everything on the table, and both teams want to win this game. They’ve been building everything to get to this point and the fact that they’re both undefeated… It reminds me, I guess the most of ’06. I remember that year seems like it was just a couple years ago because of Bo [Schembechler] passing away on Friday and what it did to that weekend when you had No. 1 against No. 2, just really added, I think, to the spirit of the weekend. And again, going back to that was the BCS era.

So yeah, it reminds me a lot of that game. And who would’ve thought Michigan at the beginning of the year, other than maybe Jim Harbaugh and his team, but they lost so much off of that team, especially defensively, and here they’ve come back this year as strong, if not stronger. Not to mention they lost both their coordinators, Aiden Hutchinson, who to me was the heartbeat of that team last year. And here they are. You can make a strong case for them being, like I said, maybe even a stronger team. So it’s awesome. It’s what you dream about, I think if you’re a fan of this game. And here it is, great week.

On College GameDay, it’s been a different year with Coach Corso missing time, getting back, adding Pat McAfee full time. How much fun are you having this season?

Herbstreit: First with Coach, that’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride with him and his health and he’s such a big part of our show and what we do and it was great to have him back last week. He and I have been in contact every single week while he’s been dealing with just trying to get healthy and feeling good. But he felt great last week. He’ll be on the road this week. He’s excited to be back. So that’s always a big thing for us as far as lifting our spirit and having fun with him. And Pat has been… I can’t even put in the words what Pat has meant, I think to the show, to me personally. I’ve known Pat for a few years. I’ve been begging him to come join us on GameDay. And I was a little glad that he and the company, they were able to come to terms.

And as you know, it wasn’t like in March or April this happened, I think week two or three whenever it was. And man, he just fit in seamlessly. He brings an incredible amount of energy that’s authentic and real. And it’s not just on the air, it’s in meetings. He works at it, he takes it serious. He loves the show. He is a big fan of the show. So I think he has respect, even though he is kind of a wild guy and crazy and fun, you can really see how much respect he has for it. So it’s been, for me personally, 27 years into this, I can’t remember having more fun than I’ve had this year, and Pat is definitely a big part of that.

How much did Michigan’s win last year change their mindset, especially going into this week?

Herbstreit: I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but obviously Ohio State has had the upper hand for a number of years. And so to have that breakthrough moment, because when you go back to when I was a player, I know that after I left and Ohio State finally started to win a game or two, I know just watching what it did to Ohio State to be like, finally we had that moment of it’s not a mental thing, we can do this kind of thing. That’s how Ohio State I think felt. And then Jim Tressel took it into a different stratosphere and Urban Meyer kind of kept it going. And now you have Ryan Day. And so I think when you win a game like that, it is more of a, I knew we could do it kind of feel, and the players that come back the following year, I think they can feed off of that success and proof that this can be done. 

So yeah, to pretend that it doesn’t create a belief would be crazy. The only thing that would be left now is going to Columbus, go The Shoe, deal with the hostility. Because I’ll be honest with you, man, standing down on that sideline, I’m sure you were there taking it all in too. I think we all know that was a different energy. And you talk about a 12th Man or an assist to a crowd, that crowd made a difference in that game that day, especially when their defense was on the field. And so to eliminate that and now put that same kind of juice on the other side, that to me is…

I was just saying, can they go on the road to Columbus and be able to deal with the energy that they had last year behind them in Ann Arbor? Can they take that on the road and deal with not having that energy and now Ohio State will have it. I think that’ll be a big one last obstacle to be able to overcome.

Where have you seen growth or change in Marcus Freeman’s coaching evolution from going into the Ohio State game to his regular season finale at USC?

Herbstreit: I don’t know if it’s dramatic change. Think about it, he hugs his players last year when he gets hired, he’s our guy. They start off with a hard-fought loss against Ohio State in Columbus and then back it up with a loss at home against Marshall. You’re 0-2. And a lot of people are like, oh boy, what do we got going on here? Then they win three in a row, it looks like they’ve righted the ship and then they lose to Stanford, who’s down, obviously. And that’s a loss at home. So I think as players, when you go through that, there’s significant growth if you can get to the other side, when you have such a letdown like Marshall and Stanford at home. And then you have the highs of winning at Syracuse, beating North Carolina early in the year, and being able to blow out Clemson. 

So I think what happens is not just Marcus. I think it’s easy to look at him. I look at their team, lose your starting quarterback whom you broke camp with, lose those games. So you’re on a heck of a rollercoaster ride. And I think somewhere along the way, like any team throughout a 12-week season that has success, they found an identity. And I think you’d have to ask Marcus how he’s changed. I’m sure every coach changes just through experience like players do. But I think as a team, they found, okay, this defense is going to keep us in every game that we play. Our line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, that’s going to be a strength for us no matter who we play.

And then at quarterback, I think they went with Drew Pyne from, let’s not lose the game at quarterback to just each week believe in a little bit more and a little bit more. But as they get ready for the Coliseum and USC, I think they’re a confident team because they’ve been through so much. Their head coach has been through a lot, and I think they look at it as I’m sure, a huge opportunity to shut down the season on a serious high note and go into the post season.

As you look to Notre Dame’s future, is this a roster trending toward a team that could get to the playoff next year? And if not, what maybe are the missing pieces?

Herbstreit: I think it is. I think that Brian Kelly did a pretty good job from… I don’t remember the exact year, but I remember the year they lost to Miami down at Miami, it was, okay, huddle up, we got to regroup here and find out where we really want to go, a feel as an organization. And I felt like if you remember the trip that they made to Athens when they played Georgia, that was really a turning point when it came to just athletically where Notre Dame was. Then during COVID, they played Clemson at home and they beat them with all those great athletes. And so I think that they’ve been trending in a much better direction. I still look at them, if I were in charge, if I were the head coach, if I were Marcus, I would say, okay, when I look around at Georgia and Ohio State and Alabama and Clemson of these teams that we want to be able to compete with year in and year out, where do we got to get better?

I think every team is saying, okay, our quarterback play has got to be at a certain level and our perimeter play, whether that’s corners or receivers, the game is played in space. So you’re defending space and you got to have guys that can win in space. And I think right now they’re pretty good in those areas. I’m sure that through the recruiting in these next couple of years, you’re going to try to see them go to another level. But those would be the obvious areas to me, is just continuing to raise the bar on the perimeter and make sure that you’re getting a quarterback that can be a gamechanger, that can spin it, that can run around, make plays. But you got to be right at that spot, I think, to really make a run.

What do you see in CJ Stroud’s progression this season that you like, and that you’d like to see more of? And how do you think that’ll serve him Saturday against Michigan?

Herbstreit: Great question. I think the biggest area that I’ve seen the difference is, and I don’t know if this plays out on the field, but he is clearly the alpha of the offense. And I think last year, just trying to… from the Oregon game on, I think he was like a lot of us, young. I think he was vulnerable to the outside world, whether it was social media or fans, getting frustrated. And I think he allowed that to maybe impact him. And I think he would be the first one to tell you going through all that he went through last year, and then in the offseason, he became the guy that really asserted himself as far as getting guys to show up on 7 on 7, getting guys to push themselves in June, July and August when it’s hot out. He was that guy and he wasn’t the year before.

And so it’s his team. So as you spin that forward into this year, I think his leadership and his consistency has got to be on display for 60 minutes for Ohio State to beat Michigan. There are going to be moments in that game where he’s going to play really well. There may be moments in that game where Michigan defense comes up with a turnover or whatever it might be. But there’s going to be an ebb and flow to the game. How he maintains his poise, how he maintains his leadership, and pushing this team to try to find a way to win, this is the culmination of all that growth. And to answer your question, where do you need to see it? That to me is where you’re going to have to see it, is being able to get through the ups and downs of 60 minutes of football in a rivalry game with a lot of emotion, and just being that guy that can lead the team to a victory.

How did your Buckeyes team use that loss in ’91 to fuel the improved result the next year?

Herbstreit: Well, I think for us, we had not only lost in ’91, but we’d had some close losses previous years as well. And so for us in ’92, it was more of a chip on your shoulder, more of a, let’s have our breakthrough moment, let’s win this game kind of thing. And I think we were angry. I think anytime you have an angry football team, you’ve got a great chance when it’s a collective unit that’s angry. Michigan reminded me last year from the early part of that game, opening kickoff of that game, remember Ohio State got backed up inside their own 10-yard line? Place was going crazy, snow’s coming down, and it was like a feeding frenzy. They had so much energy and they were just so tired of losing and so tired of hearing about it. That energy, you can’t really predict until you get to that morning and that day and you go out in the field for warmups and you just feel that extra whoa, like, whoa, this is powerful.

And I think that comes from when you’re pissed off. It comes when you’re angry. And it’s not six guys, it’s a hundred guys that feel that. Michigan was that team last year. And that anger pushed them through that game. And I think it was led by Aiden Hutchinson and the way, if you watch that game back, he’d make a play and it was like he was letting out four years of frustration every time he would celebrate. Now it’s Ohio State, they walked off that field, like I said earlier, you had almost a hundred thousand people on that field singing songs for two hours. Ohio State felt that, they heard the comments after the game. I’m sure they’re using a lot of that stuff to get them ready for this game. So the trick is, and Jim Harbaugh did it last year, is having that as almost a controlled rage for 60 minutes. It can’t be trying to start fights and it can’t be immaturity, it has to be a controlled rage. If you’re Ohio State, coming them off of a disappointment loss from last year.

You mentioned Ohio State’s probably been thinking about this game since winter conditioning and throughout the summer. Did you have mantras or put up signs to carry that through the offseason?

Herbstreit: Such a different time compared to the way they live today. These coaches now… I tell you in ’06 when Ohio State played Michigan, I made the comments after the game because it was such a good game, and I said, “Wait a second, Michigan’s No. 2, after this game they just took Ohio State to the very last play. How would they lose ground?” That doesn’t make any sense to me. And so Urban Meyer, if he were on here, would tell you he made up… Because there were some real quotes that I made. And then he would tell me, yeah, if it’s something bad, just make it up and put Herbstreit’s name on it. So they manufacture s*** to get their guys… And these guys believe it. And so, man, it’s just such a different time today versus back then. So yeah, if you walk through the Woody Hayes facility this week, up into the bowels where the team actually is, not where the fans walk around, but behind the closed doors, oh my gosh. You would see, I’m sure, quotes and I’m sure there’s a video that’s playing around. It’s probably been playing in the weight room all week. Just a constant loop of different things to motivate the team. So yeah, that’s very in vogue today, way more so than back in that day.

How is the travel working for you this season with TNF, College GameDay and Saturday Night Football? Is it something you feel like you might have to cut back on at some point?

Herbstreit: This has been… When I signed on, I signed a five-year deal with Amazon, and I re-upped a five-year deal with ESPN, so that I linked them together. I knew when I signed on to do the Thursday Night game, I knew that it was going to be a big challenge, as far as… Because I’m a big prep guy. And so to be able to get on air, it requires a lot of work for me, to watch film, and get ahold of the coaches and the players, and all of that. 

So I’ve really almost… It sounds stupid, but I’ve tried to stay incredibly grateful and positive. I think when you get tired, it’s easy to complain, it’s easy to say, “Then I have to go to Montana, and then I got to fly all…” It’s so easy to go that path, and I’ve done the opposite. I’ve just been… I’ve tried to stay almost in a Navy Seal mentality. No one cares. End of the day, you could sit there and talk about… You guys maybe do it in your business like, “Oh, you’re never going to believe this. I’ve got to get up at 4 a.m.” And people are just like, “Oh, really? That’s great.” No one cares.

And so, once you accept that nobody cares, you don’t need to complain. And so, I don’t ever complain about anything. I bust my ass as hard as I can to be prepared, the most prepared analyst I can be. I try to keep everything in a silo. Like this week, I don’t have Thursday night, but normally, I’d be prepping very hard with my boards that I have that are made for me, and then I just put all my notes on them. And this week, all I have is Notre Dame and USC, but next week I’ll have the Patriots and the Bills. And I think it’s a mindset of staying, like I said, positive, and grateful, and work as hard as you can. But it’s been much more than I anticipated, and I’ve got four more years of it, so there’s no backing out now.

Do you see at any point where you would give up GameDay and focus only on that Saturday night game? Or are you committed all the way through Thursday, Saturday morning, Saturday night for the rest of this contract?

Herbstreit: Yeah, I’m completely committed. And I think the part when people are like, “Geez, you call a game on Thursday and then you call a game on Saturday,” that’s hard. But then when you throw a three hour… You’re talking about every game or every… West Coast to East Coast. That’s probably the tricky part is being prepared for a three-hour studio show. But no, I would never even let my mind think of that. I’m already thinking about what do I want to do after my five years? Do I want to stop working? Do I want to just enjoy my family? Do I want to just do GameDay? Do I just want to call a Saturday night game? I don’t know what, I’m already thinking about, okay, I’m on the treadmill for four more years, and then see where I am at that stage of life and see what I’m going to do. But no, it hasn’t never even crossed my mind to take something off my plate.

Is Ohio State better equipped to prevent Michigan from pushing them around on both sides of the ball vs. last year? And, if Michigan has to win the game through the air, do you think they can?

Herbstreit: Well, when I think of the 2021 Ohio State-Michigan game, I think of the weather and I think of Michigan in those uniforms that they don’t typically wear, and I think of that offensive line. When Cam Brown, the corner from Ohio State, kind of… I can’t remember exactly who he got caught up with, but he got involved in some pushing, maybe a receiver, and then three of those Michigan offensive linemen came over just like, “No way. You’re not doing that.” And I thought it was very symbolic of the day that Haskins and that offensive line had where they were more physical. They kind of controlled things. And as the game went on, they got stronger and stronger, and I think their confidence really grew. I think the job that Sherrone Moore has done as offensive line… Let’s remember, let’s take a step back for a second, I remember talking with some people who are big Michigan people that have been around forever, and I did a game during COVID there, I think it was Michigan State that I did. There’s hardly any fans at the game. And Dan Dierdorf and I were talking at halftime and… It might have been Wisconsin. And we were talking at halftime, and I don’t think it was going really well for them at that point and you could almost feel his energy when it came to the line play. I mean, the offensive line, if you go back to when I was a kid and when I played, Michigan, to me, set the bar for offensive line play with Bo. And it was just the way it was. And Gary Moeller. And they’ve had great offensive lines as far back as we can remember.

Well, there was a point from Rich Rod, Brady Hoke, and all that era, what everybody forgets about… Everybody gets caught up in the quarterback play and everything else. To me, look at the line play of Michigan. They didn’t look the way they look right now. And so clearly, Jim Harbaugh, through recruiting and development, hiring Sherrone Moore, they have gone to another level with their offensive line play. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence.

So if you’re going to play the style of football that Jim Harbaugh is going to play, you’ve got to have an offensive line, you’re going to have to have tight ends, you’re going to have to have fullbacks. That’s old school mindset that works, and they’ve done that. And they throw the Sherrone Moore effect to go along with that. And this offensive line right now is doing this. So they are equipped to do what they did last year again this year.

Ohio State went out and hired Jim Knowles, in my opinion, for this game. And so here we go. I mean, it’s impossible to sit here on Tuesday and know, “Yeah, Ohio State’s going to do a good job.” The one thing I can guarantee you is the energy from the crowd – this is college football – will impact the Ohio State defense more than anything on the field. Will it be good enough to stop their Michigan running game? I don’t know. But I promise you… Because if you look at the film right now, Ohio State’s defense, pretty good. But this will be a game that all of a sudden they’re getting off blocks that they haven’t gotten off in the past. All of a sudden those linebackers are coming down a little bit harder. Safeties are making plays just like Michigan’s defense last year. So the crowd can impact this game.

I’m really excited to see the J.J. McCarthy effect of this game. Last year when he played, it would just be a player to here there, a series maybe, just to be a change-up. We all know that he ended up winning that job. So how does his play action game, his ability to create, play into this game? Because I think if Michigan wins the game, it’s not just going to be their ability to run the ball. It’s going to be J.J. McCarthy creating, buying time. It’s third and six, he scrambles for eight. Just becomes that thorn in the side of the Ohio State defense. He’s going to have to do that, I think, for them to win this game.

How do you look at TCU now, and do they have to run the table to make the CFB Playoff?

Herbstreit: Yeah, I think tonight’s rankings (are) going to be interesting. I think they’ll stay pretty similar to what we had last week. And we’re running out of teams. I mean, Tennessee is no longer in there, Alabama is out, Clemson’s trying to work themselves back in. But it feels like, after the obvious four, it feels like LSU maybe gets up to five, USC maybe at five. But it feels like those two teams, and then Clemson’s trying to, “Hey, what about… Don’t forget about us.” It feels like that. But if you look at what we have left, just two weeks of football, if TCU wins out, obviously they’re in a good spot. If everything happens the way it’s supposed to happen, which never happens in college football. But if Georgia were to win out and beat LSU, that would eliminate LSU, right? And then somebody has to win the Ohio State-Michigan game, so you’re going to have a loser of that game.

And if Georgia’s out there already, the winner of the Ohio State-Michigan game’s out there already, TCU wins out, they’re obviously in there. But just for argument’s sake, if they were to lose, I still think what’s left… Depending on how of course they lose and what game they lose. But the loser of the Ohio State-Michigan game, if TCU were to stumble, and USC really the only teams… That’s if USC, by the way, beats Notre Dame and wins the Pac 12. There’s no guarantees there either. What if USC loses? You can make a really strong case that TCU could lose, Ohio State-Michigan game team could lose, and both could still potentially be there with SC losing and LSU losing. It’d really become a Clemson, because they’d be the only other team really left, if they beat North Carolina, they would be the only team left to have a discussion or a debate about. That’s with the TCU loss, and Ohio State-Michigan loser still making it. So you’re really running out of teams after you get down to seven and beyond. So if I were TCU, I’d just keep winning games and keep finding a way the way they have all year. But if they stumble, I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that they’re out.

What have you seen from USC this season? Caleb Williams, Lincoln Riley’s first season, your expectations for Notre Dame-USC?

Herbstreit: It’s incredible. I don’t have it in front of me, but if you look at USC from where they were to making this hire to bring in Lincoln Riley, and everybody wondered, with all these transfer portals, how would they be? I’m just looking… Let me look back at their years that they’ve had. They had some good years with Clay (Helton) in ’16 and ’17 when he had Sam Darnold. But since then, 5-7, 8-5, 5-1 in the COVID year, and 4-8, which led to his dismissal. So then they bring in Lincoln, he brings in Caleb Williams, and we all sat back in this new transfer portal era and thought, “Okay, let’s see if they can become a team.” And they have. We had them week two against Stanford. I was blown away with how they were playing as a group, loving on each other. No one being selfish. That’s continued throughout the year. Their only loss is a game on the road in one of the tougher environments in the Pac 12 at Utah, physical team. They lost by a point. Other than that they’ve been winning games. And I feel like they’ve just been an outlier, a forgotten team a little bit.

Well, they beat UCLA. People are paying attention. After the rankings tonight, they could be five, people are really going to be paying attention, and now they got Notre Dame on a massive stage on Saturday night on ABC. And Caleb Williams and CJ Stroud can make a case that those two, depending on Blake Corum and his health, those three may be right there with these big stages with a Heisman closing argument. And their defense has given up a ton of yards, but they lead the nation in turnover margin. So it’s been a heck of a story. If you would’ve told Lincoln Riley that you’re on the cusp of winning a Pac 12 championship and on the cusp of pushing to get into the playoff in year one from where USC has been, that would be something that I’m sure Mike Bohn, their AD, and Lincoln Riley would’ve said, “We’ll take that all day.”

When they did their opening presser, nobody could have seen them getting to this point, but here they are. They’ve got two weeks to go and we’ll see if they can close it out. Two tough games, obviously, Notre Dame, who’s playing with a lot of confidence, and then the Pac 12 Championship Game.

With College GameDay – the energy Pat brings, the energy Jess brings in her role, and the uncertainty with Lee, has there been any element of this old thing feels new again and that alleviates some of the exhaustion week to week?

Herbstreit: That’s why I was saying earlier about Pat. Pat I think has been huge for the show, but for me personally, I don’t even know, I can’t even describe what he’s meant for me when it comes to what you alluded to, the travel and the fatigue potentially. Yeah, I mean, our show, I don’t have the latest, but we’re in an era where I have four sons. They’re in their apartments in college. I don’t even know if they own a TV. We’re in an era where people don’t watch TV. It’s the damn-dest thing. It’s probably like when my generation started to watch TV and my parents, they were used to listening to things on the radio. They probably look at TV like I used to look at my parents on the radio. But, in this era, everybody’s ratings are going down and I don’t know if it still holds up, but College GameDay, I think it’s the best 11 or 12-week start in the history of the show.

And I can just tell you, from 27 years of being there, I don’t know, and I love everybody I work with, but I’ve just been invigorated with this energy of the show and some of the different locations we’ve been to. It’s just been a blast. I mean, it’s going to be a year I’ll never forget. And going back to your question, Pat and Jess as well in the meetings, our meetings on Friday, so important to the mojo and the energy that we have on the show, and both of them have been awesome additions to the show this year.

I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you about the (EA Sports) college football video game … they said that we are waiting until the 2024 as opposed to 2023. Are you a part of the next video game?

Herbstreit: I’d love to be a part of it. I started with Bill Walsh College football in 1992. Joey Galloway is my playing partner for forever, and one of the great thrills from my life was when the NCAA asked me to be the voice of it along with Coach and Brad Nessler years ago. I can’t remember the first year, but honestly, to this day, 27 years in this industry, being on that game was one of the coolest things for me because I was a big-time gamer of it. And it started to become weird when Joey and I would be playing and I’d be saying some of these lines.

But yeah, I’d love to be a part of it. It’s a lot of work to do the voiceover work, but it would be a thrill to be able to be involved in that coming back. I’ve never seen a fanbase more excited for a video game potentially to come back than this game. It’s great to hear it’s definitely coming back. I wish it were for next season, next August. We got to wait around and wait, but fingers crossed I’ll be involved in it.

Moderator: Back up to the question about GameDay and ratings, we are on pace for College GameDay’s most-viewed season ever. We should have a ratings update later today after another big weekend at Montana State.

When you think about college football and the expanded playoff and Big 10 expansion, where do you see Michigan-Ohio State in terms of the rivalries that will shape the landscape of the sport?

Herbstreit: Tough thing to say. I think there’s so much history there and so much meaning every single year that it’s hard to imagine it ever losing the intensity that we enjoy. (Chris) Fallica brought up an interesting point to me after Tennessee lost to South Carolina and he said, “I really worry that potentially with the College Football Playoff expansion to 12 teams, Tennessee, they could lose this game and already be okay and we would lose this, oh my gosh moment in late November.” That’s I think very accurate and sad because I do love that you win late in the year, you’re in, you lose, you’re out. But I do think that Ohio State-Michigan and Alabama-Auburn, there are just certain games when you see it, Notre Dame-USC, I almost feel like… all the NIL talk, all the transfer portal talk, all the negativity leading up to the season, when the football went into the air and the uniforms were on the field, it was just something about it just went away.

And I think even with all the realignment and USC and UCLA coming in and everything else that’s going to happen, I still think when you see certain teams on the field together, that’s part of the beauty of the sport. I hope the leaders to be will realize you got to keep feeding into these rivalries to make them continue to be special for the next generation. But I only always speak for myself that I think Ohio State and Michigan and these others are still always going to be what they are and I don’t think there’s anything that the decisionmakers can do to take that away from me personally.

Herbstreit: Appreciate everybody hopping on. Happy Thanksgiving. I know everybody works real hard during this time of the year, so hopefully you get a chance to get a day to catch your breath. But appreciate how much you guys do for college football. I do the NFL and I do college and I’ve got to tell, there’s just nothing like college football. The passion in these stadiums, what we saw last week in Columbia, every week. I mean, TCU-Baylor. So thanks for everything you guys do. Really appreciate it.


Bill Hofheimer

I oversee ESPN’s College Sports PR, while also working on ESPN soccer, Around the Horn, PTI and more. Previously oversaw communications for ESPN's Monday Night Football and NFL studio shows.
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