Weclome to the sunny south!
Earlier this week, ESPN College Football analyst and former Ohio State Quarterback Kirk Herbstreit fled Buckeye territory. Herbstreit and his wife Allison moved their family from Columbus, Ohio to Nashville, Tennessee. A column in the Columbus Dispatch explains why: It’s not because of the southern hospitality, milder climate, better food (trust me here, sports fans) and wonderful music culture.
It was the constant flaming from a vocal minority of Buckeye fans who simply couldn’t countenance the fact that as a national broadcaster, Herbstreit has to be objective and honest in his opinions.
"Nobody loves Ohio State more than me," said Herbstreit, a former Buckeyes quarterback. "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."
Herbstreit said he and his wife, Allison, visited several cities before deciding on Nashville. He will continue to do his Monday radio show on WBNS-FM (97.1) in the fall.
"From a sports perspective, this is rough," he said. "I love Ohio State. Love the Blue Jackets. Love the Reds. Those are my hobbies. I don't like moving. I love living here. I don't want to leave. But I just can't do this anymore. I really can't keep going like this.
"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."
Vocal minorities—the fringes of the fanbases of college football programs—make life miserable for everybody. Ohio State certainly has a Harvey Updyke or three. A small minority of Tennessee fans rioted when Lane Kiffin bolted for Southern Cal. Auburn has its fair share of Stump Throwers and Operation Red Dog conspiracists, and Florida’s Jort brigade is downright frightening. One afternoon of listening to the callers on the Paul Finebaum show is enough to suck IQ points from intellects like Greg McElroy and corrupt the virtuous like Tim Tebow.
Passion in being a fan is ok. I am a passionate Alabama fan, but my passion has limits. There are lines that just shouldn’t be crossed. Herbstreit has donated tons of money and given his time to his beloved alma mater. But he’s been harassed relentlessly because he won’t get on the ESPN Gameday set and be a Buckeye homer.
My bet is that he’s supported the university more than than all of the wackos combined. But he’s still got a job to do and it’s a shame he had to move to do it in peace. I’m not certain that moving to one of the SEC states is exactly the right move but at least there are other things to do in in Nashville. The barbecue is outstanding and can I recommend a trip to one of the many wonderful museums?
Side note: Kirk has also joined Twitter. Follow him at @K_Herbstreit. He has about 15,500 followers at last check, but hasn’t followed anyone back yet. The first non-sportscaster type to be followed will be awarded a one-year subscription to all content of I Bleed Crimson Red! Second place gets two years…
Exit Question: Should Kirk be on the lookout for rabid Vanderbilt fans?