My Brother Kirk, the Hardest Working Guy I Know
My brother, Kirk Herbstreit, feels so lucky to do the work he does, but he works very hard for the privilege.
He is my brother and I have always been proud of him, but not for the reasons you may think. He is more sincere and puts in more effort than anyone I know.
He is a great person who I would choose to have as a friend. He is a trusted confidante, and no one can make me laugh harder. Other than sports, his other priorities and true loves are his faith, his wife and boys, extended family, and his dogs–and not necessarily in that order….
With Kirk, what you see is what you get. If you watch him on ESPN’s College Football GameDay, you see the real guy. He makes it sound easy. It's not. He is very serious about his work, and is intelligent, silly, supportive, and fun. He has the utmost respect for the cast and crew he works with at ESPN, ABC, and Amazon, and has been lucky to work with the best in the business.
His relationship with Coach Corso is a great example of where his heart is.
He respects and loves Lee, and it’s evident when you see them together. If you haven’t seen the pre GameDay show videos Kirk posts during the season, be sure to check them out.
Coach Corso had an unusual reaction to our d ad’s death. Our father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, but after a few years, a physical component showed up and we discovered it was actually Lewy Body Dementia. My Dad was pretty buoyant with the first diagnosis and would make fun of himself often. I admired his ability to stay positive.
But as an athlete, when his body started failing him–he no longer felt very positive. It was hard on him. When he died, he had said that his head hurt, and died quickly of a brain aneurism. When an emotional Kirk told Coach, he wasn’t expecting the response from Corso.
“Congratulations!" Coach said. Kirk thought he had misheard, and it snapped him out of his sadness for a moment. Coach explained that there couldn’t be a better way to go when faced with a terrible disease from which there was no coming back. It was so true, but he was definitely the only one who congratulated us. That’s Coach, one of a kind.
With Kirk, what you see is what you get.
Kirk feels so lucky to have a job watching, analyzing, and talking about football, his first love. But I don’t know anyone who works as hard as he does, in ANY job. His preparation and research are unparalleled. In the early days, his hotel floors were covered with team depth charts. He still does the same thing, but I think his floor is a bit clearer.
Consider This Schedule
During the week, he travels to shoot interviews and packages, meets with assistant and head coaches, and spends time with players.
Friday means GameDay meetings and dinner. If his son is playing football on a Friday night–then he hops a quick flight home for the game and then right back to the GameDay set.
Saturday morning ESPN GameDay on set comes very early for a few SportsCenter hits before the show. College GameDay is live for three hours 9 am–noon. Then either he stays to call the Saturday ABC game with Chris Fowler, or jumps on another plane to arrive by kickoff wherever the game is played. Sometimes that means a trip across the country. Then he flies home after the game, getting home around 2 am or later, and tries to get to sleep after all the excitement.
An Unprecedented College Football Bowl Travel Schedule
This past year, the bowl and championship games took on a new challenge when it came to the travel and workload. To my knowledge, no one in the history of sports announcing has done anything close.
On December 31, 2021, Kirk was in the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, for a three-hour College GameDay show in the morning and then later called the College Football Playoff semifinal game, University of Michigan v Georgia, at 8 pm, finishing up around 1 am.
He left the stadium and went straight to the airport.
Flying through the night, he arrived in Los Angeles, checked into his hotel and took a quick shower. Dressed in a fresh suit, he headed over to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, and went live from the field for another three-hour ESPN College GameDay (7am–
10am Pacific Time). At 2 pm, he called the Rose Bowl, Ohio State vs Utah–a fantastic game–which turned into an instant classic.
Finally, after watching all the other games that day, he actually got to try to sleep. If you remember what it’s like to try to sleep when you know Santa is coming, that is about how hard it is for Kirk to try to sleep during the season.
The next week was NFL week, as he prepared for and called the Kansas City vs Denver NFL game from Empower Field at Mile High in Denver on Saturday, January 8th, with Chris Fowler and Laura Rutledge.
Immediately after the night game, he flew to Indianapolis. and worked all day on January 9th prepping for the College GameDay show and the College Football National Championship game, which he called the next day on Monday, January 10.
What did you do on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day?
Here was Kirk's schedule:
Three-hour show in Miami, Florida, starting at 9 am
Call CFP semifinal game at 8 pm, finished after midnight
Catch flight & fly overnight to LA
Shower, change clothes
Report to set, pretending not to be tired
Call 2 pm Rose Bowl Game
NFL Comes Calling
When Kirk and Chris Fowler started doing a few NFL games, Kirk really enjoyed it, and they were very popular.
He is the absolute face of college football, it has always been in his heart, and I can’t imagine he would ever give it up. As a very small kid, he would watch football all day, unless he was playing it with the neighborhood kids who were all much bigger than he was.
When Amazon came to him asking if he would consider doing their live stream broadcast of Thursday Night NFL Football with Al Michaels, he was excited about the opportunity. Because of his college football background (and his legendary–almost photographic–sports memory) he has a lot of background on the players and has established relationships already. All that, in addition to his relentless research, will inform his comments.
As a small kid, he watched football all day, unless he was playing football with kids much bigger than he was.
He is excited to work with legends like Al Michaels and producer Fred Gaudelli, and as usual, Kirk plans to be deferential in his approach.
“My goal is to let Al and Fred do what they do, and I will fit in to their system,” Kirk explains. “They have worked together for a long time and have their own rhythm. I need to fit into their rhythm, not vice versa. I’m looking forward to digging into the NFL and falling in love with it.”
Kirk also always considers the viewer.
“I like to talk like we are all together at home and I'm just commenting on a play like you might with your friends," he says. "It’s also important to know when to step back and allow the viewers to feel like they are at the game. I never want to talk over things like the great crowd noise after a touchdown, for example. I also try to talk clearly even if I’m trying to explain something fairly technical. But I never want to talk down to people. That’s important to me.”
As a fan, I have learned a lot through his comments. After all, football has changed, and I'm a little older than when I watched recruiting films with my Dad.
"I like to talk like we are all together at home watching the game."
Here, Kirk gets advice from Ben, the patriarch of the family.
Good luck with everything, Kirk. No one deserves it more.