National Sports Media Has Ohio State Flavor

By Kyle Rowland on July 14, 2013 at 6:00a
Buckeye Royalty.

Northwestern and Syracuse have renowned journalism programs that produce many of the nation’s finest journalists. That’s true across all forms of newsgathering. But it’s former Ohio State athletes that are cornering the market in the sports world.

Kirk Herbstreit, Clark Kellogg, Chris Spielman, Eddie George, Robert Smith, Jim Jackson Joey Galloway, John Cook and Mike Tomczak all work for national sports media organizations. Non-athletes such as the late great Jack Buck, Erin Moriarty and Albert Breer also have made a name for themselves working at national media outlets on some of the biggest news and sports stories.

Four of those athletes – Herbstreit, Kellogg, Spielman and George – were in Columbus at the Morning Sports Report in June to discuss their rise to prominence in sports media and their alma mater.

Playing at Ohio State offers many privileges: competing for championships, traveling around the country, getting a good education and garnering plenty of attention. It’s that last note that helped many Buckeyes transition into life after football. None of the four went to Ohio State with goals of working in journalism, it just happened to be their final destination.

“I think we all take a lot of pride in the fact that there are a lot of us out there and I think the school really opens up opportunities for you, like standing around microphones and cameras,” Herbstreit said.

Herbstreit majored in business, but even after an NFL career didn’t look realistic he wanted to stay involved in sports, especially the one he cherished most. It just so happened that WBNS radio was changing to an all-sports format at the time, and they quickly hired the former Ohio State quarterback to be on the air. A short time later, Craig James left an ESPN college football pre-game show that was in its infancy. Herbstreit was hired and “College GameDay” began its evolution as the leading college football show on television. 

“I was a football guy and I wanted to talk football, and then I sat next to Lee Corso,”Herbstreit said. “I remembered being so prepared and so anxious back in 1996, the first time I was on the show. I said, ‘I talked to this offensive coordinator and this is the 
and Lee is looking at me like, ‘Arkansas is playing Michigan. Michigan drives Cadillacs and Arkansas drives pickup trucks. I’m going with the pickup truck.’”

A dumbfounded Herbstreit quickly realized there’s an entertainment factor in the business.

Two decades ago, when Herbstreit made the leap into sports media, Kellogg was the lone Buckeye already mastering the craft. Twenty years later, Kellogg is the lead analyst for CBS’ college basketball coverage. He’s routinely ranked among the best announcers in sports and is known for his quirky worded references and wide-ranging vocabulary.

As one of ESPN’s lead college football analysts, Spielman ventures to locales all over the country. And he hears the same thing at each stop, “There’s too many Ohio State guys.” Spielman credits that to the work ethic established during their playing days.

Said Kellogg: “You have to compete at the highest levels, and when you get into the real world where it is a competition, you know some of the things you’ve done in the past to be successful are transferable to this.”

The most difficult part of the job for the ex-players is having fans understand there’s have a job to do. This is seen most commonly in Herbstreit’s line of work. He hasn’t been shy at pronouncing fair criticisms toward the football program, but Buckeye Nation has not taken kindly to many of his opinions.

The unruliness became so overwhelming to Herbstreit and his family that they moved from their Upper Arlington home to Nashville. The problem with a society that offers instant opinions on social media is anything uttered is perceived as anti-OSU from one set of fans or anti-Michigan from another.

Kellogg said the irrational nature of fans is something he tries to ignore.

“You have to accept it as part of the equation,” he said.

It’s something Urban Meyer became familiar with during his one season of broadcasting for ESPN. But as Spielman tells it, Meyer needn’t worry about what fans thought because his co-worker believed he was in over his head.

“I think the biggest challenge for me was working the Texas spring game with Urban,” Spielman said, to laugher. “It was his tryout and after the game he asked how he did and I go, ‘Man, you were freaking awful.’ But then a credit to him, through hard work, he became really good at broadcasting. It was the best year of broadcasting I ever had.”

“Do yourself a favor and make plans now...because we're going to Pasadena.”

Although Spielman is mostly known for delivering punishing hits as a linebacker, he’s moved into a role as one of ESPN’s top college football analysts. He’s also a hero to many in Columbus – and throughout the country – for his charity work involving breast cancer and the grace he and his late wife, Stefanie, exhibited during her long battle with the disease.  

As the four broadcasters, along with Meyer, sat side-by-side on a stage, the praise for the Buckeyes came pouring out. You see, when you step away from national TV, the loyalties flow freely.

Coming off an undefeated season, it’s no surprise that the consensus is a big season is on tap for Ohio State. Herbstreit and Spielman, who both share close friendships with Meyer, lauded the Buckeyes and forecasted a season filled with unlimited potential.

“Do yourself a favor and make plans now, get your hotels, because we're going to Pasadena,” Herbstreit said. “With Ohio State's team that they have coming back, the schedule that they have, they’re going to be in one of those games (Rose Bowl or national championship).

“There’s nothing like Pasadena, so do yourself the favor.”

Still a resident of Upper Arlington, Spielman remains close to Ohio State, often an unannounced visitor to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

“Ohio State should be great, and they should have a run at a national title if they take care of business,” he said. “These guys are held to such a high standard in everything that they do. From how they fold their clothes in the locker room to how they clean up, their grades, how they workout, their participation, their attendance. Everything is graded and evaluated. What that does is that pushes this team to strive for perfection. That was something they were able to accomplish last year, and it's something that they have a good chance of accomplishing this year.”

After a borderline Hall of Fame NFL career, George is back at Ohio State as a university employee. That gives him the freedom of working out with the team and offering pointers to budding running backs. What he’s seen from the entire team is a makeover.

“I train over there with the young men, and the one thing I can say is that I've watched them transform their bodies, literally, from young athletes that were kind of athletic to grown men, where now the depth is starting to come into place,” George said. “I’m seeing the young running backs walking around looking like seniors. They have matured to the point where they can contend now with the elite teams in the country. Our defense is athletic as I've ever seen them, but they lack experience, but by season's end, I think they'll be one of the best in the nation.

"I don't know if a national championship is in store for us, but I think we're going to have an outstanding year."

Eddie should know in Columbus it’s national championship or bust for 2013.

As the compliments flowed, Meyer sat close by with a grin affixed to his face. Then he jokingly chastised the analysts before telling those in attendance that Ohio State is focused solely on fall camp and the opener versus Buffalo.

“We need to concentrate on the next day,” Meyer said. “If you worry beyond that, you've got a problem.”


Comments Show All Comments

BassDropper's picture

Is there video of this event?


216ToThe614's picture

Pick up your feet, turn your corners square! And DRIVE DRIVE DRIVE!!!

buckguyfan1's picture

The Ohio State University (Buckeyes) is a valuable "Brand" and talented/successful alumni will continue to be very marketable in the National Sports Media.  I get a strong sense of pride when I see one of our own make it happen beyond the gridiron regardless of the line of work.  Go Bucks!

t-dub's picture

Herbie has taken a lot of heat, but i have always thought he was on the up an up.  I am a fan of him and Spielman 

"What is our aim, I can tell you in one word. Victory" Winston Churchill

smith5568's picture

Personally I think Herbie gets way too much heat from our fanbase. The fact that he had to move from Columbus makes our fans look ridiculous and is pretty shameful. He is a great ambassador for the University despite his Gameday picks or criticisms of the team. Perhaps he is so critical because he expects excellence from his alma mater and holds us to a different standard, maybe that is how he shows his "homerism." There is an awesome photo of Herbie jumping up and down in excitement like a little child during the 2002 National Title, to think he is not a fan or has turned his back on OSU is asinine. He even dresses his kids in OSU jerseys.   
Also, I am guessing he had a relatively significant role in bringing Urban Meyer to OSU. Having someone like Herbstreit working on behalf of the University, even behind the scenes, is something all fans should be thankful for and embrace.
As for the rest of the broadcasters, they are all great for the University and I hope we continue to produce media members. Additionally, Cris Carter is another major media contributor who I don't believe was mentioned but who deserves credit as well.  

BuckeyeStrong2's picture

No Cris Carter!? C'MON MAN!!! :)


kmp10's picture

I certainly don't condone the fringe fan element and their over stepping the boundaries of what's reasonable. Personally, I wouldn't know Herbstreit's wife if she were sitting next to me right now, and I wouldn't dream of ever approaching him (or his family) for any reason. Having said that, Herbstreit, in my opinion, brings the fan base criticism on himself. He goes out of his way, often, to prove to the college football community that he's impartial, and in so doing he creates animosity between the OSU fan base and himself. When he was younger and doing color commentary on random Thursday night ESPN games he would regularly make derogatory comments about Ohio State's offensive line play, or about the teams athleticism (or lack thereof). It seems the harder the fans push for Herbstreit to show his scarlet and gray the more stubborn he becomes. A few years ago when Herbstreit dropped Ohio State to, I believe, thirteenth in his final poll after OSU beat Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl it was overtly obvious to me that Herbstreit was trying to make a point: 'keep pushing me and I'll push back even harder'. His excuse at the time was that he was "exhausted" when he finalized his top 25. I don't care how tired you are, dropping Ohio State OUT OF THE TOP TEN, after an impressive Sugar Bowl win against an SEC team no less, was nothing more than Herbstreit sticking it to the OSU fan base for it daring to question him. IMO, it was Herbstreit making a statement... plain and simple. Spielman NEVER slobbers all over himself when talking about Ohio State (ala Lou Holtz when discussing ND), and will constructively criticize OSU when doing games or when on college football live... yet no one ever questions where his loyalties lie. Spielman has proven that you can 'show your scarlet and gray' while being professional and impartial. Herbstreit just doesn't get that. 

buckeyedude's picture

Having said that, Herbstreit, in my opinion, brings the fan base criticism on himself.

I never understood the Herbstreit hatred by some. The dude was a QB for Ohio State, for Pete's sake. He dresses his kids in Buckeye clothing.
Kirk is a father and a husband. Under no circumstance does he deserve to have his privacy compromised because some nutjob fan disagrees with his opinion. Maybe you don't agree with where he ranked OSU in some poll, but that does not justify harassment of him, his wife, or his kids at their home, as I have heard happened. That kind of stuff DOES make OSU fans look bad in my opinion. If I were Kirk and that happened to me, I would have done the exact same thing to protect my family.
Just to be clear KMP10: I am not calling you personally, a nutjob. But there are fans out there that are.



RBuck's picture

Having said that, Herbstreit, in my opinion, brings the fan base criticism on himself. He goes out of his way, often, to prove to the college football community that he's impartial,

He has to. Herbie is not a "fake ass Buckeye".

Long live the southend.

45has2's picture

I couldn't agree more. No one is more frankly brutal in their on air criticisms of the Buckeyes than Spielman. And yet, he is deservedly revered among The Buckeye Faithful. Why? Because he is a stand up, this is how it is, dude. I can't see any fan, no matter how obnoxious, running Spiels out of Ohio. During Woody's tenure at TOSU his phone number was LISTED. He and mostly his wife received numerous hate filled phone calls. They didn't budge an inch. Word is that Mrs. Hayes calmed and quieted many upset fans. That is the type of grit that The Buckeye Faithful respect and admire. Mpmphis and the ASSec can have River Dancin' Herbie. How many times did Herbie beat TTUN?

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Geraffi's picture

I think Herbstreit a great analyst.  He is my favorite studio analyst.  I don't know why Buckeye fans expect him to be a homer. I would prefer honest analysis of my Buckeyes and I think he provides it. I know that he still loves Ohio State, and if he suggests that it's not going to be a great year or has a negative view, then I'll take his opinion to heart, because I know his perspective is unbiased, unlike a certain Pitt Panther who spews verbal vomit on a daily basis. 
This was a great list of Buckeyes, Kyle. Nice job. 

45buckshot's picture

Herbie has had his moments for me; when he picked tOSU on sports center in '97 I went crazy... (Crap we should have won that game. F u Woodson!!!) 
But Spielman blows him away--he's the one of the few analysts that make sense, and if you listen to him sometimes you even learn something about the game. 

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

Geraffi's picture

Agree with you on Spielman. I view them differently. I see Herbie as a studio guy, even though he calls live games. As a studio analyst, I think he's great. Spealman definitely gets the nod analyzing games. 

Hovenaut's picture

While I admit I may not pay any attention to other schools, is there a another university with a major college football program with alumni that is as involved in broadcasting as Ohio State's?

I would say Penn State, ND or USC, but they even don't seem to have the number or level of interaction as our Buckeyes do. I'm not just talking at the national stage, there's Buckeyes doing regional and local stuff too.

Here's a thread listing around 20 or so Buckeyes in broadcasting, while it is nearly five years old I think most of the names are still active:

M Man's picture

Kirk Herbstreit, Clark Kellogg, Chris Spielman, Eddie George, Robert Smith, Jim Jackson Joey Galloway, John Cook and Mike Tomczak all work for national sports media organizations.

That's a great list.  Personally, I am a big fan of Herbstriet's.  Clark Kellogg and Spielman are excellent.  So is Jim Jackson and so is John Cook (who is actually just learning).  You might have added Ed Sneed in golf.  Meg Mallon may be in a golf booth someday too.  Joey Sindelar would be a natural.

While I admit I may not pay any attention to other schools, is there a another university with a major college football program with alumni that is as involved in broadcasting as Ohio State's?

Michigan:  The late Bill Flemming would be a Hall of Fame choice.  The original prototype jock broadcaster/pitchman was Tom Harmon.  There is Desmond Howard (I'm a much bigger fan of Herbstriet), Dan Dierdorf, Brian Griese, Tim McCormick, John Schroeder, Barry Larkin, Dhani Jones, Jim Brandstatter (Michigan and Lions radio); more I am sure I just can't recall right now.  It would be hard to pick out all of the Michigan grads in major sportswriting, there are so many; Adam Schefter (ESPN), Michael Rosenberg (, Rachel Bachman (Wall Street Journal) the Sklar Brothers (everywhere).

spqr2008's picture

Dierdorf and Brian Griese drive me nuts.  I'll give Griese a pass because he's still learning the broadcasting gig, but Dierdorf makes some Madden esque comments without the folksy charm of Madden.  Barry Larkin is probably my favorite of all of them, because I'm a Reds fan, and a few friends of mine were Moeller guys too.  Personally, I'd like to see Barry and Marty Brennamen be the the team for Reds broadcasts on 700 WLW.

Michibuck's picture

Nice article Kyle.

hit_the_couch's picture

Herbstreit is not a legit Buckeye. Great for the rest though.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

gravey's picture

Herby just went to far in being anti-homer.  Of course a few fans went overboard and there's no excuse for that.  There is a difference between the sort of honest-but-scathing criticism that you hear from Speilman or Lachey on their shows/broadcasts and what Herby said on TV repeatedly.  The number 9 ranking Herby gave Buckeyes after that game with Arkansas and the way he handled that was what got folks angry with him....that and his frosted tips.   He's a very good analyst, but his style wears on me anymore...and his guilt-by-assocation with the clown show at ESPN doesn't help.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I have always been a big Herbie fan and it is a fucking embarrassment to the Buckeye Nation that he was harassed so badly that felt he had to uproot his family and move out of the state.  Perhaps he does have to go out of his way to appear non biased and perhaps he does step over the line once in a while and over criticize OSU - so what!  He is a great ambassador to the university and a Buckeye man through and through! 

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

OSUs12-OH's picture

I agree with all the pro sentiments above on Herbie. He's a great Buckeye and does a great job at being an analyst. I like seeing others sticking up for him and especially about him moving away from Upper Arlington. That was disgraceful and its good to see some sane individuals who feel the same.

"I want a hungry team. I want a team that can't wait to get out there. I want an angry team! You're the Ohio State Buckeyes. You're an angry football team. You're a hungry football team and I'm proud to be your coach." UFM

UrbanCulture's picture

I have never had a problem with herbie except for when he randomly dropped the buckeyes in the polls after our sugar bowl win vs arkansas

BuckeyeChief's picture

I had never read Jack Buck's bio until today; I am very impressed by his life story.

"2014 National with it!!!"

pjtobin's picture

I voted Goerge.  I overlooked Speilman somehow? I would change it if I could. Oh well. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Bucks's picture

Enjoyed the read.
As we have all learned from past mentions with Herbie, there are some vehemently differing opinions here. I land somewhere past neutral to a fan. There are probably two incidents that I genuinely was disappointed/annoyed. The poll issue and the twitfight. Both of those, to me, were just ridiculous. Past that, I don't really take issue with what he has to say and/or if it is perceived as overly critical. I, for one, was thankful of his comments on the O-line. Not sure if people just didn't like it coming from him or it being so televised or what. He certainly wasn't lying. Our O-line had been declining for years. Had already become a nightmare.
All in all, I would love to see a Spielman/Herbstreit calling games after Musberger is gone. Will never happen (not going to pair two OSU players together) but I do believe it would be excellent commentary.

63tinman's picture

The fans that hate on Herbie remind me of parents determined that think their child is perfect and can do no wrong.  I find them obnoxious as hell, and a disservice to their child and society.  Just because Herbie does not always praise his alma mater does not mean he does not absolutely love and care about it.  He actually loves it enough to care about things he sees that need correction or improvement.
The next time fans gets upset that Herbie is not a homer, they need to spend time around the parent at a youth sporting event that is convinced his child is the second coming of Walter Payton or Kareem Abdul Jabar, when the unfortunate child is only there because of his father's personal inability to meet the age / weight requirements of the program. Undue praise is not flattering, and caring to hold a team or individual accountable for improving areas within their ability to improve is a sign of love.

zbd's picture

I don't understand the Herbie haters. Just like the LeBron haters make no sense. Anybody who criticized the OL of Bollman is ok with me. And those who nitpick a final poll ranking need to get a life.  My complaint is why Cris Carter was left off the announcers list. He's on radio and TV every week during the season and does a great job.

Jelligrim's picture

Although not an alum, I like Paul Keels as my favorite Buckeye sports media guy.  Man paints a Rembrandt with his voice.

buckskin's picture

Great to see so many former Buckeyes in the booth.  Awesome read.
I am still ashamed of our fan base when I think of how despicable buckeye nation treated Herbstreit.  He was harassed so much he felt he had to leave his own home.  He is a great national analyst who provides an honest, objective, and most important truthful opinion concerning the Bucks.  Does he go overboard on not being a homer, of course, but I'd rather have that than the straight out garbage Bob Griese blatant favoritism whenever his son or Purdue played.  
Keep up the good work Herbie.

3cent's picture