Ben Herbstreit and Uga Credit: Kirk Herbstreit

Kirk Herbstreit has become an omnipresent figure in the lives of football fans throughout the season. So has his golden retriever Ben.

Thanks to a grueling schedule that includes Thursday Night Football on Prime Video, ESPN College GameDay, and calling college football games for ESPN, Herbstreit is always on the move and seemingly always on our TV screens. That hectic schedule can take a toll on a person and a need for support and companionship becomes essential.

Enter Ben Herbstreit, the 10-year-old golden retriever that accompanies Kirk everywhere during the season.

One of three goldens that the Herbstreit own (Theo and Mitch remain at home), Ben was recently certified as an emotional support animal, which means he can join Kirk in more places such as hotels, making it easier for the pup to join his dad all week long, whether it’s at whatever campus GameDay is at that weekend or on the plane to the next game.

Tess DeMeyer wrote up a great profile for The Athletic on Ben and what he means to Herbstreit. In it, DeMeyer details what happened when Ben met Herbstreit’s TNF boothmate Al Michaels, a situation that Kirk was very concerned about going wrong.

As the story goes, Ben was making the rounds during a TNF production meeting and made his way over Michaels, who has been known to be a bit obstinate about certain things.

“He wasn’t on a leash,” Herbstreit said. “We’re talking serious business, and he’s kind of working his way around the room saying hi to people. When he got near Al, I could kind of tell Al wasn’t really keen on that. So I snapped my fingers to get Ben over towards me, and I was like, ‘I better not do that anymore.’”

Concerned about upsetting Michaels, Herbstreit didn’t bring Ben to the following week’s production meeting. However, Al noticed.

“I said: ‘I left him up in the room. I just thought it was maybe better. I didn’t want him to interrupt or get in anyone’s way,’” Herbstreit said. “He goes: ‘No, nonsense! You gotta bring Ben down here!’”

Pretty soon after that, Herbstreit knew that bringing Ben around wasn’t going to be much of a problem with Michaels, or anyone else for that matter.

“He had gotten up on the couch in the hotel room, and he was sound asleep. I’m talking like deep sleep,” Herbstreit said. “So I go back out into the hallway and I go, ‘Al, you gotta come in here and see this.’ He came into the room and looked around the corner and saw Ben on the couch sound asleep. He pulls his phone out, and he’s like, ‘Oh, my God, I gotta videotape this!’

“I get a video of Al videotaping Ben. He thought it was the funniest thing.”

It sure seems like Ben is here to stay. In fact, it looks like Ben might be getting a partner in crime pretty soon.

He doesn’t seem super thrilled to share the spotlight, but he’ll get used to it.

[The Athletic]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to