With the start of the 2013 college football season a matter of days away, former Centerville, Ohio great Kirk Herbstreit was kind enough to sit down and talk with us about what the 2013 season has in store.
Before signing with the Buckeyes and eventually rising the ranks at ESPN, Kirk was a star player for the Centerville Elks and was named Gatorade Player of the Year as senior. After the completion of his senior year, Herbstreit was the first player to commit to Ohio State's then new head coach John Cooper. After finding himself somewhat down the depth charts early on, Kirk finally got his chance to be the Buckeyes' full time starter his senior season.
To go along with being named the starting quarterback, he was also named a captain making he and his father Jim just the second ever father-son duo to have received the honor at Ohio State. Herbstreit went on to to pass for 1,900 yards and threw four touchdowns while leading the Buckeyes to an 8-3-1 record and a Citrus Bowl appearance his senior season. One of Kirk's best games as a Buckeye came against Michigan, when he completed 28 passes for 271 yards in what ended up being a 13-13 tie. Perhaps most unforgettably, Herbstreit had this incredible run during his junior season in mop-up duty against Minnesota:
Looking ahead to 2013, Kirk is entering his eighteenth season with ESPN and this past June signed an extension keeping him under contract for the next 10 years. This season he will once again be in the booth on Saturday nights with Brent Musburger, calling some of the best games of the year. At the 2010 and 2011 Emmy Awards, the Ohio-native was awarded the Emmy for "Best Studio Analyst" for his work.
I was lucky enough to sit down and talk with the former Buckeye and chat about everything college football for the upcoming season:
The Buckeyes are coming off a 12-0 record, how do you see the 2013 season playing out?
I have them in the national title game with Alabama. I by no means think it is going to be an easy run; I think they have a couple of games that can be challenging. Most notably with Wisconsin, at Northwestern, and at Michigan. Then they will have the Big Ten Championship Game. I think the schedule sets up for a run, but I think its a little bit tougher than most people are talking about.
Everyone knows Braxton Miller and Ryan Shazier will make plays. Which Buckeye will come out of the shadows and be a key contributor this fall?
Well I think it will be a true freshman in Dontre Wilson. He has really stepped up this spring and has had the opportunity to make some plays. I think Philly Brown, Evan Spencer and Devin Smith are veterans and they know what is takes to be competitive at such a high level as well. On defense, the senior leadership with Bryant and Barnett, when you are breaking in seven new starters on defense, communication is going to be huge. They are are going to have to help with getting some of the younger players lined up in the right positions.
What are some of the major differences in terms of program management between Ohio State under Jim Tressel's regime and now with Urban Meyer?
I think the candor of Urban Meyer; he seems to lay it out there with the media, whether it's about the players or whatever he is doing. With Jim Tressel, you kind of had to read between the lines. Urban is very relentless on the recruiting trail and will go after a player wherever he is. Tressel would do that to an extent, but he would go after guys who fit the system a little more. He was more of a diamond in a rough type, where as Meyer is more all about getting the five stars to Columbus.
What has to happen for Ohio State or another program like Oregon, to finally dethrone the SEC's title run?
Well, you've got to match up with them physically in the trenches. Everyone wants to talk about "speed", but the thing 'Bama has done to opponents that are not in the SEC is they turn it into a street fight. Before you try to run with them, you've got to match up with the execution and the physicality they bring in the trenches.
The Buckeyes had a great recruiting class for 2013; who amongst them do you think has the most promising future?
That is a really tough question, Adam, before they've played one down of college football. I am not all about reading into the stories and what they have accomplished. But Jalin Marshall, Ezekiel Elliott and James Clark, to go along with Wilson all seem to stand out on paper. Cam Burrows, Eli Apple, Joey Bosa and the two linebackers that they signed in Mitchell and Johnson. Give me a month from now, and you'll be able to know better.
What's your take on the possibility of Ohio State and Michigan playing in back-to-back weeks?
I am not a fan of it, personally. I am traditionalist when it comes to college football, to an extent. I grew up my whole life, leaves changing and gray skies, wanting to watch the Buckeyes take on Michigan. In a perfect world they will just play once a year and that is why in 2014, when Rutgers and Maryland come in to the Big Ten, you will see them in the same division.
Who is that team that might be a little under the radar in the Big Ten that could make a run at Indianapolis?
In the Leaders division, I would say Wisconsin. They have seemed to be forgotten about with Ball leaving and getting a new head coach. They have gone to three straight Rose Bowls and are in a little different type of situation. Gary Andersen is a great coach; he is an Urban Meyer guy from their time at Utah. He is a Barry Alvarez kind of guy; blue collar, tough guy.
The Legends is wide open. You can make a case that Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, and Northwestern could all make a run. It all matters on who gets hot and avoid injuries. I'm going out on a hunch and I think Michigan State, based on their schedule, and I think it will be Ohio State vs. Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game.
As a former quarterback, what are some of the things Braxton Miller needs to improve on from last season?
There are two areas for me. First, he needs to become of a consistent passer. I can relate to that, not the athletic ability, but I had the same thing to overcome; when it comes to relying on your feet in high school, and trying to work through that in college. What happens when you try to become a pocket passer, it really messes up your feet when you are such an athletic guy. Braxton has a terrific arm, it just really is about his feet. I think he is going to flourish this year and is going to have a great year.
The second thing would be that he really needs to become the leader of this team. I know he is an introvert by nature. This is his team; he is no longer a young guy, and can't just be looking around. If something bad happens, he has to be the guy that pops them on the helmet and tell them not to worry about it.
I understand you're doing some work with Allstate where fans can register for a chance to win a trip for four to the Sugar Bowl and BCS Championship Games. Could you please tell our readers a little more about this?
This a great thing to get in it and ultimately for Ohio State fans this could be huge. It's called the "Ultimate Road Trip Sweepstakes". Between today and November 30th, fans need to go to Allstatecfb.com and enter in the competition. You will be able to do it once a week up until the deadline. The drawing will be in early December and if you are drawn, you will get to watch the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl with me then they will fly you out for VIP road-trip to Pasadena to watch the 2014 National Championship Game. So you get both of those games all paid for by Allstate, then they will fly you home where a brand new SUV will be waiting for you. It take only like sixty seconds to fill out and enter.
We'd like to again thank Kirk Herbstreit for taking the time and speaking with us this afternoon.