ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit got into a bit of hot water with a coach on Saturday. During ESPN’s Gameday broadcast Herbstreit called out the SEC as several schools scheduled lower tier FCS schools this weekend.
According to USA Today, Herbstreit called the games “the worst thing that goes on in college football,” and referred to the scheduling tactic “pathetic.”
One coach did not take kindly to Herbstreit’s words. Surprisingly though, the coach did not come from the SEC, but rather Western Carolina, who lost to Alabama 48-14 on Saturday.
As reported by SB Nation, Western Carolina coach Mark Speir lit up Herbstreit in post-game comments.
“A guy had a silver spoon in his mouth all his life, Ohio State, primadonna state quarterback talking about, ‘It’s an embarrassment,'” Speir said. “He ain’t ever coached.”
Herbstreit is no stranger to what fans may perceive to be anti-SEC commentary. As reported by Saturday Down South in September 2013, Herbstreit called out SEC fans during a rant about Tennessee’s loss to Oregon last year.
“I don’t think they intentional ran it up, but I’ll tell you this: The SEC, it’s unique about their fan base. There are fourteen schools. When one of them wins a national championship, all fourteen carry the flag for the national championship. They all claim it. They all claim the national championship like they won it together. So when Tennessee gets ambushed by Oregon, they need to all get their flag out together and accept that loss to Oregon.”
While Herbstreit may certainly have a point in questioning the scheduling of cupcake lower division schools, he appears to be off base in singling out the SEC. For instance, Herbstreit’s alma matter, Ohio State, has an out-of-conference schedule that includes Kent State and Navy. Oregon opened their season with South Dakota, and just this weekend, Clemson took on Georgia State. Herbstreit glosses over the difficult schedule in the SEC. As reported by the Inquisitr, the SEC has continually beat up on itself. SixSEC teams have held spots in the top ten over the course of the season.
Herbstreit is also overlooking the benefit to smaller schools in these games. Top-tier teams typically pay six to seven figures to smaller schools to be sacrificial lambs. That becomes valuable money to schools that don’t have access to the mega million TV contracts of the power conferences.
Calling for a reduction in the amount of cupcake games is admirable. Fans of the game would reap the benefits of better contests on the field, and it would lead to even more cross conference dream matchups. But while the on field product would improve, it would have a negative effect on smaller schools around the country.
Kirk Herbstreit may right to call for a change. He’s just wrong in singling out the SEC.
[Photo courtesy of ESPN]