Nothing has stirred the pot lately like the recent three-part series I wrote on Kirk Herbstreit. There were plenty of posts here last week as a result — maybe over 300? — and many of them critical of Herbstreit, some critical of me. But later in the week, there were a few who gracefully extended him an olive branch who said they were willing to give the ESPN analyst a second chance.
On Monday night’s chat, I was asked what I was most impressed about with Herbstreit and I said his openness and willingness to answer any questions—that his sincerity seemed real. But at the same time, I can understand why Gator fans were mad.
With Kirk’s scheduled chat tonight on GatorCountry.com, I thought it might be appropriate to share some of the e-letters I received over the past 10 days (some from my newspaper, some from GatorCountry.com respondents) with my comments. After this, as far as I am concerned the file is closed on the Kirk Herbstreit Incident.
I am a new Florida resident of five years, and an alumnus of The Ohio State University. I read your article regarding Public Enemy No. 1 with interest. In fact I read it twice, and ended with the same sense of confusion. What is your point? Were you seeking an apology to the Gator Nation from Kirk? Or are Gator fans so fragile that they felt threatened by Kirk?
I, like other Buckeyes, congratulate the Florida Gators in winning National Championships in football and basketball. The Gators deserved to win each.
Yes, journalists whether in the print media or television have their biases for one team or another. You and the other (Charlotte) Sun Sports writers tend to have little respect for the Big 10. It’s OK, you are just people with your own favorites, too.
My challenge to you, Mr. Martin and the Gator Nation is to learn to win National Championships with class. I realize that you have not had as much experience compared to other universities. Revel in your National Championships, and ignore Kirk if he bothers you.
I am proud to be a Buckeye, and of both our football and basketball teams. You may be interested in knowing that The Ohio State University is defined by more than our winning traditions in intercollegiate sports.
Lynne Nohl, North Port, Fla.
LYNNE: Sorry, I am not in charge of the “class” department for the Florida Gators, but if you’ll send us some pointers we’ll see if we can pass them around.
Buddy: Before we leave Kirk alone, it is my duty to tell you that he predicted the Miami Hurricanes would be in the BCS title game BEFORE last season began. He said this on an ESPN lead-up to the season. So much for forecasting gravitas!
If USC hadn’t lost to UCLA unexpectedly in the top heavy but very thin Pac 10, the soon to be SEC Champion Gators would have been Kirk’s THIRD choice to face his beloved Buckeyes for the National Championship. He did say also before the USC-UCLA tilt that UCLA had NO chance to win that game. Only when he proved wrong on this forecast did he drop back to Michigan. At least this high profile miss may give the BCS voters a touch of skepticism about the ESPN gurus.
David, Punta Gorda
David: There is already plenty of skepticism, but I think most Gator fans are ready to move on now toward the 2007 season.
(This comes from David Moulton a WWCN (AM 770) Fort Myers, who works with Gary Danielson on the CBS broadcast of SEC games, and assisted with the graphic posted on the comparison with Michigan.)
Buddy: To me the most fascinating part of the whole thing – and I hope Gary told you this – was we got the USC-UCLA score at halftime and Gary went off by himself for 5-8 minutes (which he never does). He got his thoughts together as to what he wanted to focus on, etc. And he insisted that we were not shortchanging Arkansas and the game. (Good call because Arkansas took the lead in the 3rd quarter.) We got to early 4th quarter, Florida had just taken a 10-point lead and then for the first time he started the “What If?” game. What’s remarkable is CBS and Gary spent very little time on it in the 4th quarter. I think the graphic was shown 2 or 3 times. Gary made his points, but with 3 minutes left he cast his vote by saying “Florida is a champion and Michigan is a second place team.”
That night we were traveling back in our bus — Gary and I travel by bus — and we were watching ESPN freaking out over what he said. The Big 3 (Lee, Kirk and Chris) were losing their minds but the team Mark May and Lou Holtz agreed with Gary (I give Holtz a lot of credit because on the Tuesday before the game he was on our (Fort Myers Radio) show and we asked him: If USC lost who would he vote #2. And he said Florida).
David Mouton, WWCN (AM 770), Fort Myers
DAVID: It was one of the great calls, but as Gary says, if it had gone the other way and USC had won, things wouldn’t have worked out so wonderfully well. But CBS, Gary and you deserve a lot of credit for chutzpah.
Buddy: I loved your piece on Herbie, and he has richly deserved the wrath of Gator Nation. If there is any other individual than Herbie whose butt should be called out on the carpet, it would be that sage football pundit, Petros Papadakis.
After his commentary on the Florida preview for the BCS (Sun Sports/Fox) he answered his question of whether Florida could win with a resounding “ABSOLUTELY NOT”! Now THAT I submit, deserves catching at least as much hell as Herbie has, but who, I say, has called HIM out? Nobody! I submit, for your approval, that Mr. Papadakis gets some of the Gator wrath, and it WOULD make a good (no, great!) story.)
As an old scrub player, I detest those who think they know more about the game than they do, just because they played the game, and get paid to pass judgment like ol’ Petros did. Go Gators! Get Petros!
Okay, let’s all send e-mails to Petros and call his mother bad names! (But, frankly, it’s the first time I’ve ever heard of the guy.)