ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit insisted he is on the side of Washington fans days after facing a wave of criticism for his comment that the Huskies should be “thankful” ESPN airs their games.
Herbstreit joined Brock and Salk on 710 ESPN Seattle Tuesday to talk about his controversial statement, and acknowledged he did not realize all of Washington’s kickoff times have been after 8:00 p.m. ET.
“Clearly I’ve heard through Twitter and other various other outlets that people are upset, and to a certain degree I can completely understand why people would feel that way,” Herbstreit said.
“I’ve always kind of taken kind of a sense of pride on Game Day to make sure we, as our show, try to get the Pac-12, when it deserves to be out there, try to get them out there and get some recognition. So when (Petersen) said that, my mistake was that I took it personally as an individual that I feel like we as a show really try to battle for not only Washington, but for the whole conference.”
Herbstreit’s comments, made ahead of Washington’s 38-7 win over Cal, were in response to Huskies’ coach Chris Petersen, who last week lamented his team’s late kickoff times. Petersen said late kickoffs are “painful” both for the team and for fans, and hurt the Huskies’ national exposure.
“We want to play at 1 o’clock,” Petersen said. “No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it.”
Herbstreit, though, contends that he’s on the side of Washington fans.
“The greatest thing that happened as far as getting some more exposure are those night games, because they are on ESPN and because people (in other conferences) get a little bit more familiar with the Washington brand,” Herbstreit said. “I just thought, ‘Man, this is going to be great that ESPN is going to finally have a relationship with the Pac-12 and they’re going to be able to televise some of those games that are otherwise are kind of not seen or never even heard of.’ And so I looked at that, when I said something like, ‘Hey they should be thanking ESPN,’ that’s more of as a conference; they should be happy to be on ESPN to be able to get the exposure.”
Salk questioned specifically Herbstreit’s use of the word “thankful,” noting that both ESPN and the Pac-12 benefit from television contracts. And while Herbstreit contended the issue has more to do with a time zone difference — that any other conference would be dealing with the same issue — he was surprised to hear about one key problem facing the Huskies: all of their kickoffs have been at 8:00 p.m. ET or later.
“I just thought it was the games that were on ESPN or the games that were on FOX,” Herbstreit said. “Yeah, that’s too much.”
Listen to Brock and Salk’s entire interview with Herbstreit here.