Kirk Herbstreit “Sad” Big Ten is Leaving ESPN, But Hopeful This Won’t Be His Final Season Calling Games at Ohio State

By Dan Hope on September 2, 2022 at 4:53 pm
Kirk Herbstreit

While Kirk Herbstreit will be on ABC’s broadcast for at least two games at Ohio Stadium this season, it’s possible this could be the final season Herbstreit calls a game inside the stadium he once played in.

Under the Big Ten’s new TV contract that will go into effect next season and be in place through the 2029 season, ABC and ESPN will no longer have broadcast rights to any Big Ten home games. While Fox, CBS and NBC will all have rights to Big Ten games, the only Ohio State games that will air on ABC or ESPN will be College Football Playoff games and/or non-conference road games that ESPN holds the broadcast rights to.

Herbstreit, who recently signed a five-year contract to continue calling college football games for ESPN while also signing a five-year contract to call Thursday night NFL games for Amazon, said he is disappointed he’ll no longer have the opportunity to call games at his alma mater on a regular basis after this season.

“I'm sad,” Herbstreit said during a media availability at Ohio State on Friday when asked about the Big Ten leaving ESPN. “I love Ohio State, I love the Big Ten, I love coming into these stadiums. It's a highlight for me any time we can come here, obviously, or go to Penn State or Wisconsin or any of the (Big Ten stadiums).”

The former Ohio State quarterback acknowledges, though, that the Big Ten leaving ESPN is simply part of the business of college football. And he’s hopeful that he will have more opportunities to call Big Ten games on a regular basis in the future.

“Who knows what will happen after that (the new seven-year Big Ten contract)? So I don't think it's the end of my opportunities in my career, but for that time period, it will be,” Herbstreit said. “So yeah, I definitely wasn't celebrating it. But it's the business like we're all seeing. Everything's evolving in this sport. Everything's changing. I'm trying to keep an open mind to all of it and just do the best I can through it.

“But again, I'm not really like closing the door on, I don't know where I'm going in my career. I just signed a new five-year deal with Amazon and ESPN. Five years from now, I don't know what I'll be doing. I don't even know if I'll be doing college football in five years. But my hope is to come back, to get a chance on a weekly basis to call games in the Big Ten. That would be my hope.”

Herbstreit says he will be at Ohio Stadium for at least two games this season, telling reporters Friday that he is also slated to call the Buckeyes’ Sept. 24 game against Wisconsin – which will be televised on ABC, though a time for that game has not yet been announced – in addition to Saturday night’s game against Notre Dame, which he’ll call alongside Chris Fowler and Holly Rowe. He also said it’s possible he could be in East Lansing for Ohio State’s Oct. 8 road game against Michigan State, though the TV network has not yet been announced for that game.

Even though Herbstreit won’t be commentating any games at Ohio Stadium next season, that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be back in Columbus for his role as an analyst on College GameDay. College GameDay host Rece Davis said Friday he does not think the Big Ten’s departure from ESPN will preclude GameDay from returning to Ohio State in future seasons.

“I hope it doesn't affect it at all. And our plan is that it won't affect it at all,” Davis said when asked if he thought the Big Ten’s new TV contract would affect GameDay’s relationship with Ohio State. “This show’s built on covering the entire sport. Contracts are realities and business is part of it, we understand that. But this show has a foundation of covering the best stories in college football, regardless of those other factors. 

“The first time GameDay went on the road, if you know the history of the show, some of the executives didn't realize the traction that the show had even gotten from the studio. They went on the road for the first time to Notre Dame for Florida State/Notre Dame in 1993. That wasn't an ESPN/ABC game, it was an NBC game. And so we've got a long history of going to the best story regardless of where the game’s being televised. And we have every intention of continuing to do that.”

During his media availability on Friday, Herbstreit also shared his impressions from being around Ohio State this offseason and his initial reaction to the College Football Playoff officially expanding to 12 teams, and you can hear what he had to say about all of that in the video below.

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