Like many, many kids born and raised in the state, Kirk Herbstreit grew up as a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes, particularly the football program. Like his father Jim, he played football at the school, becoming the starting quarterback and co-captain in the late eighties and early nineties.
After his eligibility expired, Herbstreit remained in Columbus as a radio personality, and ultimately became arguably the face of college football on ESPN. Unfortunately, he also became the subject of vitriol spewed by his own people — Buckeye fans — for having the utter gall and audacity to attempt to be fair and balanced when analyzing/reporting on his alma mater.
And, thanks to that small but deafening portion of the OSU fan base, Herbstreit has been forced to uproot himself and his family from his — and their — lifelong home.
Herbstreit has confirmed to Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch that he, his wife and his four sons moved from their Ohio home Thursday to a new one in Tennessee. And, as you’ve probably already ascertained, it was a decision he says he was forced to make, not one he wanted to.
“Nobody loves Ohio State more than me,” Herbstreit, who’ll continue doing his Columbus radio show in the fall, told the paper. “I still have a picture of Woody Hayes and my dad (Jim, a former OSU player) in my office, and nobody will do more than I do for the university behind the scenes. But I’ve got a job to do, and I’m going to continue to be fair and objective. To continue to have to defend myself and my family in regards to my love and devotion to Ohio State is unfair. …
“Eighty to ninety percent of the Ohio State fans are great. It’s the vocal minority that make it rough. They probably represent only 5 to 10 percent of the fan base, but they are relentless.”
Personally, I’d put the numbers at 70-30 in favor of “great”, but won’t quibble over some percentage points.
Regardless of the actual numbers, it’s a damn shame and utter travesty — shavesty? — that Herbstreit was forced to move out of a state in which he’s lived for four decades or so because of a handful of shameless, braying jackasses.
Was he “unfairly critical” at times of his Buckeyes? Probably. He’s a fallible human being, though, not some 2,000-year-old carpenter from Galilee. Did it appear at times he swung his opinion in the extreme opposite direction in order to “prove” to the nation that he was not biased in favor of his alma mater? Sure seemed that way on occasion.
Did he deserve the type of persecution he says he received from Buckeye Nation? If you need an answer to that question, you’re likely part of the dolt minority.
Especially when you consider that there’s photographic proof that, if anything, he should be criticized for wearing his inner Scarlet & Gray too much on his sleeve. In public:
Yeah, look at how much he despises the program for which he played. The disdain is clearly written all over his face for all to see.
Honestly, some people really, really need to get a life. Especially when their need to live vicariously through some laundry and colors alters the lives of four kids simply because their dad was trying to do his job.