Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly criticized ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit on a South Bend sports radio show over Herbstreit’s prediction that there wouldn’t be college football this fall.
Herbstreit’s exact comments, from a few days ago:
“I’ll be shocked if we have NFL football this fall, if we have college football. I’ll be so surprised if that happens,” Kirk said on the “Freddie and Fitzsimmons” show, according to TMZ Sports.
“Just because from what I understand, people that I listen to, you’re 12 to 18 months from a vaccine. I don’t know how you let these guys go into locker rooms and let stadiums be filled up and how you can play ball. I just don’t know how you can do it with the optics of it.”
Kelly went on 96.1 WSBT’s Weekday Sportsbeat and took Herbstreit to task for daring to assume that a global pandemic might derail the college football season. You can listen to the full interview here; the relevant remarks also come at the 0:50 mark of this video from South Bend’s WSBT-TV.
Transcription, via WSBT:
“If anybody can really predict what can happen next week, they should be in the stock market,” Kelly said. “I heard Kirk Herbstreit come out and say, ‘No way.’ Kirk does not know what he’s talking about. Really? For him to talk in those terms, he’s not a scientist. He’s a college football analyst. We’ll let the scientists determine those things.”
Of course, Kelly isn’t a scientist either, yet he had no problem sharing his own optimism:
“We could be negative and think about a lot of things that could go wrong, or we can think positive,” Kelly said.
“I’ve always chosen to think in the most positive terms that we’re going to have this pandemic under control to where we can resume in some sort of normalcy, where we can play college football in the fall.”
Kelly isn’t the only college coach to take Herbstreit to task. Missouri’s Eli Drinkwitz did the same on Wednesday, and then almost immediately apologized for it.
In an appearance on the @finebaum show, Eli Drinkwitz apologized to @KirkHerbstreit. “I did not mean anything toward Kirk Herbstreit or to take a shot at him. I hope he would accept my apology. My point was we are focused on today.” https://t.co/ZRmPnW7rN1
— Brandon Zimmerman (@BZSEC) April 1, 2020
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with optimism that things can get back to normal, or continuing to prepare for a season that may indeed still happen. That has to coincide with caution and restraint, too, though, and it becomes an issue when people with legitimate platforms (as dumb as it may be to consider that “Notre Dame head football coach” is a legitimate platform in our society) go after people who are expressing the caution and restraint side of that equation.
Unlike Drinkwitz, Kelly hasn’t yet apologized for his comments.