When Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit earned good reviews called Steelers-Giants during Week 1 of the NFL season.
Depending on various Covid-related schedule changes he could end up calling another half of a Monday Night Football doubleheader at some point this year. (Fowler and Herbstreit almost called a Broncos-Patriots game before it was pushed back further.)
A few weeks ago, Herbstreit mentioned that after the Steelers-Giants game, he felt like he would consider NFL work in the future if it was an option.
I was blown away by how much I enjoyed that game, how much I enjoyed for me, it’s not the game itself… it’s the Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday build-up towards the game and sitting down with the coaches, the coordinators, the head coaches, the players, and how incredibly candid they were and giving of their time that they were. To be honest, I was just a little bit, not intimidated, but I was just a little bit curious as to how they would handle Chris and Kirk coming in from college to do a Monday Night game, and they could not have been any more gracious.
So that part kind of excited me that they were pumped that we were there to do their game, and then doing the game… even though we didn’t have one fan – it was one of those games we didn’t have one fan in the stands – and I had an absolute ball calling [Steelers-Giants] and it made me reflect a little bit, a little bit differently towards my future and what I might want to do down the road. Like I said, I hope to always do college football, but if NFL would be in my future, I’m a lot more open to that thought than I was maybe prior to that experience.
Talking to Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina this week on the SI Media Podcast, Herbstreit went a bit farther, saying that in an ideal world he’d be able to do both college and pro games throughout the season.
“I’ve always looked at it like, if you asked that me a year ago, I’d would say college. I would definitely do college. And after that experience, I’d say I would love to entertain both. I would love the challenge. I don’t know if anyone’s ever done that where they do a big college game and then do a game in the NFL. It would have to be a Monday game, obviously. If it were a Sunday game I wouldn’t be able to do college and pro. Ideally, in a perfect world, I would love the challenge of trying to do both. But I’m now much more open to the idea of doing the NFL.
Saying that in an ideal world he’d be able to do both is a pretty big step from even just his last comments, so it’s worth considering the feasibility. The main issue, obviously, is that ESPN currently has just one NFL game per week, and the new Monday Night Football booth is just settling in this season. While other networks could offer Herbstreit the potential chance to work both college and professional games, it’s pretty tough to imagine him leaving ESPN just for that opportunity, especially considering how much he values his work on College GameDay.
Traina asked him, then, if he’d ever be willing to solely call NFL games, and Herbstreit seemed open to that as well, with a reasonable response:
“I would think about it,” said Herbstreit. “But I would not say I’d definitely do that for sure. I just wanna see where the college game is when we get on the back end of this COVID and how the game changes, if it does at all, with the powers that be, the realignment, the conferences and where we’re headed as a sport.”
Herbrseit is clearly one of the top analysts working in football, on the pro or college level, and should he ever decide he wanted to do something different he’d surely have plenty of suitors. His point on college football maybe being different after the pandemic is also an interesting one, especially when the initial rumors were that if there was no college season this year, ESPN was considering bumping Fowler and Herbstreit to the MNF booth for the year.
Obviously that didn’t happen, but they are serving as ESPN’s standby crew for the year, and clearly it’s been a positive experience for Herbstreit.