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Kirk Herbstreit

It's Week 1 of the college football season, which means its Week 1 of Kirk Herbstreit season. The long-time broadcaster gets off to a wild start, going to both Bloomington on Thursday for No. 2 Ohio State at Indiana, and Atlanta on Saturday for No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 3 Florida State. Herbstreit will be part of both the College GameDay and TV broadcasts from both locations. One day before starting the season, the former Buckeyes quarterback talked with ThePostGame about his preparation, Heisman Trophy outlook and a potential College GameDay trip to Pullman.

ThePostGame: You were on the ESPN broadcast Tuesday during the second set of Roger Federer's match at the U.S. Open. Was that your first time analyzing tennis?
KIRK HERBSTREIT: Oh yeah. I was just enjoying the match. The first two nights have been something you'd expect to see next week. Usually the first couple days of the U.S. Open are just a chance for the big names to kind of stretch out and get comfortable with their surroundings. In the men's case, a quick three-set match. With the women's game, a quick 35-, 40-minute match. It's been anything but that. I really enjoy watching Grand Slams. I'm one of these guys who gets up to watch the Australian Open at 3 or 4 in the morning and watch whoever, if it's the men or the women. I love it all.

TPG: I'd expect usually you're the guy introducing Chris Fowler to the big names, but he was introducing you to John McEnroe there.
HERBSTREIT: Exactly. I've never had an opportunity to meet him, but I've always been a fan of his style, both on the court and in the booth. Him and Chris have such a good rapport. I always tell Chris and [Mike] Tirico, I'm just in awe of what those guys do, how they bounce from one sport to the next. Not just to understand the sport, but to be able to pronounce the names like they've followed them as kids. Fowler's bouncing around from the U.S. Open to World Cup soccer to, at one point, he was doing horse racing and X Games. He's done anything. Same with Tirico. Those guys are flawless.

TPG: A guy like McEnroe can go talk to the players, he's tapped into tennis. For you, during the college football offseason, how are you accumulating information? You see in the NFL, guys going to training camps. What do you do in the offseason?
HERBSTREIT: I have 22 years of doing this. I've never burned one coach or player with anything they've ever told me. I think because of that, I have a reputation of being someone you can talk to and not be worried about how it's going to be used or how it's going to be said on air. I make a habit, I have for the last 15 years or so, of talking with these guys and having very unique conversations that are incredibly candid. That's something I don't take lightly. It helps me. I personally feel that coaches, when they stand at a podium or talk with somebody who has a microphone or a pen in their hand, they go into Bull Durham quotes. They're just, "We're working very hard and we're proud of the players for the way they've gone through adversity." It's really hard to know what's going on when you hear them talk like that. So when I get them one-on-one, I'm probably like Johnny Mac with tennis, you really get the real information and that helps me to be incredibly prepared whenever I go on camera.

TPG: I went to Northwestern. Some of the sports media guys created Pat Fitzgerald Bingo that they play during press conferences.
HERBSTREIT: (Laughs) You know what I'm talking about then. You sit in those press areas, it's just like, will you please tell us what's really happening?

TPG: "These young men are playing in a great college football environment this weekend."
HERBSTREIT: (Laughing)

TPG: You've been doing this 22 years. How long did it take to gain that trust of coaches and players?
HERBSTREIT: (Stops laughing) Well, first of all, congratulations on going to school in Evanston. That is an incredible accomplishment. As for trust, that's a great question. I don't know how often you see me on air, but I'm kind of the opposite or the antithesis of what you see on a regular basis on TV. You see a lot of pounding of the desk and yelling at each other. Everybody does it their own way. I happen to do it with information. Even when I say something critical of a team or a player, if you listen to my tone and how I say it, it's not condescending. I've never been a guy who likes crushing somebody. You build a reputation on your work, whether you're a journalist, the way you write. Whether you're on radio, the way you talk, or whether you're on TV and it's the way your presence is felt and the way you communicate. I think people have a tendency to trust people based on their vibe they give off. I'm the same as I'm talking to you right now as I am when I'm on TV. I'm not a good enough actor, I don't really play, now the camera's on, here we go, now I'm gonna be this guy. I've never done that. I've always been just me. If I was giving you advice or anyone advice, it's worked for me so far. You have to remember I was Kirk Herbstreit, an honorable mention All-Big Ten quarterback. I was not an All-American, I was not a Heisman Trophy winner, I was not a two-time national champion. I didn't get there because of my credentials as a player. Sure, I played, but I'd like to think I got here for my work, what I do as far as my preparation, the information I provide. Sometimes, I take a different angle on what I'm teaching or trying to describe for you. You'd have to ask a coach or a player after all these years about why they feel comfortable talking with me. I believe it has something to do with just trust and watching my style of work. Like I said, I've never burned anybody and I never will.

Kirk Herbstreit

TPG: You're on the call for Ohio State against Indiana. It's a rare Big Ten Week 1 opener. Are you about that?
HERBSTREIT: Yeah, it's different. Usually you see the two or three home games for most of the bigger programs against lesser opponents or maybe one decent opponent. You don’t have preseason football like you have in the NFL or even high school. This is ready, fire, aim. For Ohio State and Indiana, a good Indiana team, it's very different, and I love it, personally. Florida State's playing Alabama, you see teams playing each other, what's different is it's in-conference. I think it's a great opportunity for Indiana. They're calling it the biggest home game, maybe ever, that they've had in Bloomington. Now, if it was Week 6, would they still say that? If it was Week 8, would they still say that? I don't know, but it being Week 1, the start of the season, a new coach, 17 returning starters, a lot of promise, here comes Ohio State, ranked No. 2 in the country, they're fired up. They're thinking Rose Bowl. This is their year.

TPG: I'm looking at the schedule. September 29: No. 24 Washington State hosts No. 4 USC. Is there any shot of College GameDay going to Pullman?
HERBSTREIT: Absolutely ... I have not looked at the schedule yet. [Chris] Fallica "The Bear," he knows it by heart, but you just saying those two teams, and you know from knowing that story with Washington State, how cool would it be if we could ever get out there? We've come close a couple times, but somewhere along the way, they'll lose and game and we end up not being able to make it. I think Mike Leach has a team that has a pretty good chance to sit there at 4-0 when they play that game, but if I'm not mistaken you said the 29th, is that a Friday or a Saturday?

TPG: Let me check. That's a Friday. Oh well.
HERBSTREIT: Yeah, if it were Saturday, it'd be good. They do play Stanford on Nov. 4 at home. Maybe we can get there for that. Mike Leach has been close the last two years at 9-4 and 8-5. We'll see if this year, they can get hot. They've got a great quarterback. We'd love to get out there based on their loyalty and consistency, getting that flag wherever we go.

TPG: Would you guys consider going to Charlottesville this year?
HERBSTREIT: I don't know. I would think not. That was a kind of a crazy story and I haven't really followed up with Charlottesville since that all went down. I have nothing against Charlottesville and that university. What they had to endure was just awful. That's not a reflection on that city and that university. But I don't think they'll be on our radar just because that program has kind of been off the radar for some time now. I don't expect that to change this year. I don't see them competing in the ACC with Bronco Mendenhall just in his second year, coming off a season with just two wins. They're still in rebuilding mode, but what a sad thing for that university to have to endure.

TPG: You guys get up for GameDay around probably 3 a.m. Lee Corso, does he drink coffee? How is he so ready in the morning?
HERBSTREIT: Man, you cannot believe this guy. Eighty-two years old, he is incredible with his energy. He had a stroke eight years ago. You can tell sometimes by his speech. If he didn't have a stroke, you would think he's 66, 67 years old, maybe younger than that. He buzzes around. He just has great genes, I guess. His personality, his wit, he's sharp as a tack. He's all over everything. He's my man. He's the best. I don't think he drinks coffee. I don't know what he drinks. Maybe orange juice. He's a different guy when it comes to taking care of himself. He's a big eater. It's not like he's sitting there just eating a small salad or one bite of a piece of fish. Whatever they feed us, he's eating it like we are.

TPG: A big eater? Is he going to the gym too?
HERBSTREIT: Yeah. He walks like crazy. If we're shooting a commercial or something and we have an hour of downtime, most of us get on our phones, go on Twitter, call our family. Lee will take a walk. He can't sit still. He's one of those guys who just has constant energy. Constant, constant, constant. He'll take a walk, he'll move around, he's just an interesting guy.

TPG: The Heisman Trophy this year. Are you taking Lamar Jackson or the field?
HERBSTREIT: I love Lamar in there. I like that you put him in there. Not a lot of people are. I'd probably give Sam Darnold the edge, just because of the schedule they play and being the USC quarterback, the way he finished last year in the Rose Bowl. Based on that performance, he and Saquon Barkley are going to be in the discussion. But I love Lamar Jackson. That guy did some stuff we haven't seen since Michael Vick was at Virginia Tech. But remember how they finished those three games, it was a debacle.

TPG: You're working with Allstate. What are you doing with them this year?
HERBSTREIT: The "All Hands In" program. We've broken it down into three variables. There's All Hands In off the field, which is where Allstate and I team up. This week, we're going to team up in Atlanta with some Florida State and Alabama volunteers and some Atlanta Falcons players will be there. We're going to build a community garden for the Boys and Girls Club. It just kind of shows when the college football community comes together, good things tend to happen. We're also doing All Hands In on the field. That's when during Saturday night on my telecast, I'll kind of pick the team of the week, the team that came together the strongest. Then lastly, the All Hands In social. If you ever follow me on Twitter, I like to answer questions from my followers and I'm asking everyone to get involved with this. It's #SweetTalk. It's different than most of the stuff that's out there. Beginning in October, if people will stop with the trash talk and start with the sweet talk on social media, if you use #SweetTalk, that will give you a chance to win a trip to the national championship.

TPG: Can you say anything nice about Michigan right now?
HERBSTREIT: Absolutely. For a team that lost 43 seniors, 11 or 12 guys to NFL camps, they only return one starter on defense and four starters on offense, despite all those losses, I expect Michigan to be right back to where they've been the last couple years with Jim Harbaugh, which means right in the thick of things to compete for a Big Ten Championship. I'm impressed, even though he tends to become a story for off-the-field reasons, I think what he's doing on the field with his team has been outstanding. I think he's brought that Michigan team back to being one of the top teams in the country year-in, year-out.

TPG: You mentioned Florida State-Alabama. Have you ever seen a Week 1 game this anticipated?

HERBSTREIT: No. I've called some big Week 1 games over the years, but nothing like this. This feels like a national championship in Week 1. Brand new stadium. The city that's going to host the national championship game in that same stadium. Atlanta is a hotbed for college football, and they have the Falcons and the Braves and the Hawks and so much going on, but if you talk to the people, especially talk show hosts, and you ask them what the biggest thing people want to talk about is, they'll say college football, SEC football. To be able to have this big of a game, that entire Atlanta community will be fired up, not to mention the Florida State and Alabama fan bases.

TPG: That's why they put the Chick-fil-A in there. For college games.
HERBSTREIT: Exactly. That's exactly right.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.