ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit Opens Up About FSU Football Fanbase Backlash

Herbstreit was one of the main advocates for FSU to be left out of the College Football Playoff.



In a recent interview with Fresh Life Church’s “Faith and Football” program, Kirk Herbstreit opened up about his experiences with Florida State fans following their team’s exclusion from the College Football Playoff (CFP).


FSU supporters around the country felt as though their team was slighted in early December after the Seminoles failed to make the CFP. They pawned off a lot of their displeasures (warranted or not) on ESPN’s top college football color announcer and “College Gameday” analyst.


Herbstreit mentioned that this year’s “lynch mob mentality” – alluding to Florida State fans – was more rowdy than usual.


“I deal with fanbases. It’s social media, it’s a different level of a lynch mob mentality. Every year we deal with it. This year has been maybe especially a little bit louder,” said Herbstreit.


“This year there were about seven teams that were deserving of being in those four spots. And I said the four that I think, it ended up being the four that I thought would go, went,” Herbstreit continued. “So then those teams sitting at five and six and seven, you feel that wrath from that fanbase, which I guess is natural. As if I had anything to do with it. But I tell you, it can be dark.”


Why were grown men and women so unequivocally in opposition to the ESPN analyst?


Herbstreit was one of the main lobbyists for the Alabama Crimson Tide (despite having one loss) to make the Playoff after they took down the #1 Georgia Bulldogs in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Championship. After the loss of FSU quarterback Jordan Travis, the self-proclaimed “voice of reason” (he refers to himself as such during the interview) pointed to the injury of the star QB as a rationale for leaving the Seminoles out.






“To me, it is a reflection of what (injured FSU QB Jordan Travis) meant to that team,” Herbstreit said then. “… You’re comparing Alabama to Florida State. You got to give Alabama the nod even though they had a close game with Auburn in a rivalry game. They beat Georgia on a neutral site, and Georgia was the team. Alabama just beat them. You can’t take Alabama out of this. They have to be in. I think the committee did a great job. I tip my cap as well.”


However, it is noteworthy that on Nov. 18 (the morning of the North Alabama game – before Travis’s injury), Herbstreit said on College GameDay that FSU is “not a lock to me” even if they go undefeated and that “there’s no way the SEC champ is left out,” referring to Alabama.


This is America. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and their right to speak freely.


However, it does not seem incorrect to say that Herbstreit switched to Travis’ injury as his main talking point for his original argument that a one-loss SEC champion should be in over an undefeated Florida State.


The question was posed above as to why grown men and women would feel so strongly about what an ESPN analyst thinks. But many FSU fans found themselves wondering why the “voice of reason” was so staunchly against the Seminoles for weeks.



One of the main accusations from the Florida State faithful is that there is an inherent conflict of interest between ESPN, the CFP Committee, and the SEC.


ESPN pays millions of dollars more to the SEC compared to other conferences for their television rights.


But to be clear, Herbstreit’s conclusion never changed since Nov. 18 (compared to others at ESPN, like Greg McElroy). He stayed consistent in his belief that Alabama should’ve made the Playoff over Florida State. His rationale and his logic to produce that rationale, however, did in fact change.


First, it was the notion that the Tide couldn’t be left out because they would’ve been the SEC champ.


Then, it was because Florida State lost its star quarterback.


While a lot of FSU fans were crying foul about the possible collusion between ESPN, the SEC, and the CFP Committee, they were also angry about the changing narratives that were seemingly fit to keep Florida State out.



Gideon Canice

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