In his 15 years as an ESPN college football analyst, former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreit has found it's hard to please anyone. Many Buckeye fans think he's too hard on his alma mater with his criticism, and other fans think he's an Ohio State homer by being too nice to the school.
Last spring Herbstreit moved his family from Columbus, Ohio, to Nashville, Tenn., but he denied reports that the move was to escape unruly Ohio State fans. He has been critical of former Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel during the school's recent scandal.
“If I would have moved because I was worried about fans giving me a hard time, I would have moved back in 1996,” Herbstreit said Thursday. “It's not like I just started doing this. That's why I'm surprised that people thought that Ohio State fans and their wrath or frustration would get me to move. That's really not the case.”
Herbstreit, 41, said he and his wife, Allison, had been contemplating the move for three to four years and even considered moving to Texas. The couple has four sons, twins who are entering fifth grade, a third-grader and a 5-year-old.
“We just felt that the time was right,” he said. “Doing my job, it's the greatest job in America. I wouldn't want to do anything else. We didn't get chased out of town by Ohio State fans at all. There were a few isolated incidents where we just thought about things and family and their safety and decided it was probably in the best interest of our family to move.”
A Centerville, Ohio, native, Herbstreit grew up a Buckeyes fan. His father, Jim, was a team captain for Ohio State as a safety and running back, and later served as assistant coach. As a senior in 1992, Kirk passed for nearly 2,000 yards in an option-oriented offense, guiding the Buckeyes to an 8-3-1 mark and second place in the Big Ten.
Herbstreit says it's weird living out of the state for the first time.
“Ohio will always be my home. I'm always going to be an Ohio State Buckeye and a Cincinnati Reds fan,” he said. “Nashville is a great town and the people there have been amazing. So far so good.”