ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit apologizes for 'White Flag' comments regarding Michigan
Kirk Herbstreit has apologized for comments he made during Tuesday’s College Football Playoff Rankings show.
During the show on ESPN, the popular college football analyst speculated about the possibility of Michigan waving “a white flag” in regards to next weekend’s rivalry showdown with Ohio State. Herbstreit claimed it was possible the Wolverines could cancel that game due to COVID-19 issues while effectively eliminating the Buckeyes from the B1G Championship Game by keeping OSU below the six-game threshold.
The host of Tuesday’s show, Rece Davis, later gave Herbstreit a chance to clarify his comments and whether or not he was joking. Instead, Herbstreit doubled down on his comments, citing conversations with coaches that believe some cancellations have been to avoid embarrassment on the field.
It did not take long for those comments to draw an immediate reaction from fans everywhere. It also did not take long for Herbstreit to apologize for those comments in a video on Twitter as he admitted it was inappropriate.
Herbstreit also admitted he did not have any evidence to suggest such a situation was playing out at Michigan:
“I made comments about Michigan, about the potential of them waving the white flag and intentionally trying to avoid playing Ohio State by just saying ‘Hey we have too many cases and we’re going to opt out,'” explained Herbstreit. “I had no business saying that. I have no evidence of that. It’s completely unfair to the University of Michigan, to Jim Harbaugh, to his players and coaches, and I just wanted to apologize. I think we all go through some ups and downs, many downs for lots of people as we continue to go through this COVID crisis. And for me, in college football, I really struggle with where we are at. Players opting out, teams canceling games. It just seems like a downward spiral…I misspoke, I’m apologizing…but it was completely uncalled for me to say that Michigan is potentially doing that.”
Just wanted to clarify something I said earlier tonight during our CFP rankings show. Apologize to @UMichFootball for my words. pic.twitter.com/tCBGjl7GTV
— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) December 2, 2020
It is good to see Herbstreit do the right thing in apologizing for his comments, but the damage is likely already done. If Michigan is forced to cancel – not due to dodging the Buckeyes but due to safety issues regarding COVID – fans will likely bring up the sort of conspiracy theory Herbstreit alluded to.
Hopefully we can avoid any of that with the Wolverines and Buckeyes getting back on the field in time for The Game.