With College Gameday coming to town, Lexington is abuzz in pseudo-celebrity sightings. (“Is that Chris Fowler doing shots at Joe Bologna’s?” “Did I just see Lee Corso hitting the ladies at the Springs Inn?”) It really is an exciting weekend in the big city as we all make our way to see the traveling road show that is College Gameday. In my mind, it goes without saying that as great as College Gameday is, the real star of the show is Lee Corso. In fact, without Corso and his mascot head schtick, then what you have is simply any other college pre-game show….heck you have the basketball College Gameday. Regular talking heads….on the road….with no personality….and thus no excitement. Corso in his goofy manner, takes it to another level and helps create the scene that makes Saturday mornings so great around the set…..that is why as Lee gets older, I fully expect ESPN to do a “Weekend at Bernies” ploy where he sits in the corner, occasionally we hear “Not so fast my friend” or “No Way Sweetheart” and then a mascot head is put on his body to the screams of approval of the masses.
So with Lee the obvious star of the show and Chris Fowler the anchor that holds everything together, where does that leave devilishly handsome Kirk Herbstreit? Herbie, as his friends and some middle school girls call him, is clearly the analyst that ESPN has sought to move into Vitale/Madden territory in recent years. They have put him as a lead color anchor on the Saturday night main event ABC telecasts, while also using him on Sportscenter every other day to give his impressions on topics ranging from South Florida to Mitt Romney. Herbie is brought out to opine on anything even marginally related to college football and he even played a role on the emminently forgettable “Who’s Now” segment during the offseason. And in keeping with this new responsibility, Herbie has grown more opinionated…..he takes more controversial stances, tells which teams he thinks are overrated and now tries to add more to the Gameday set than just frosted locks and light-colored eyes.
Which brings me to Herbie’s recent comments. In the last few days, ol Herbie has made it known loud and clear that he believes Kentucky stands no chance against Florida on Saturday. He has repeated on multiple shows the notion that Kentucky will be worn down, Florida is too good and Saturday’s game has “Blowout” written all over it. Now I usually take the view that announcers should feel free to take whatever positions they want. Nothing makes me roll my eyes more than to hear fans say that so-and-so announcer is an “idiot” simply because he picked against your team to win…..that is after all, ultimately his job. But there is something about Herbie that has always rubbed me a bit the wrong way…..lets call it the “smugness” factor. I am sure when you are a great athlete at a top program, the ladies love you and you end up on national television, it is hard to be humble…..but Herbie strikes me as oozing just a bit too much arrogance for my taste….and when it comes to college football, it is that old school, “what are teams like Kentucky doing on top, when powers like Ohio State should be there” attitude. It is one thing for Herbie to out and out root for the Buckeyes at every instant….I can accept that as I would do the same thing for the Cats….but you get the feeling that he also loves to downplay those new to the college football royalty scene….a la Kentucky.
Going into this weekend, Herbie has made it clear to all that will listen, that he doesnt think Kentucky is worthy of the accolades they will be getting this weekend. He has made his opinion heard to the entire college football world. MY question is whether the Kentucky fans will make their opinion known to him…..hell hath no fury like a scorned UK fan….I expect to see it on Saturday.