Broadcasting football games is a dream job, and Kirk Herbstreit will do so much dreaming this fall he won't have time to sleep.
The 52-year-old added a third job to his portfolio this year in joining Al Michaels as the color commentator on Amazon's brand new Thursday night NFL package. According to the New York Post, he'll make more doing that ($10 million a year) than he does in his role as the face and voice of ESPN's college football coverage ($6 million).
While it's not exactly digging ditches or selling insurance -- it's the quite opposite, in fact -- there are two reasons why broadcasters stick to one game a week. One, the jobs are hard to get. And two, it takes a week's worth of prep to make a three-and-a-half hour broadcast sound good.
Knowing the Cowboys well enough to discuss Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons between swigs of Miller Lite at a sports bar is one thing, but actually knowing them is something different entirely. Herbstreit will have to be the world's leading expert on four teams a week -- their two-deeps, their storylines, their tendencies, their strengths and their weaknesses -- while also remaining the world's leading expert on Auburn's quarterback situation, Scott Frost's hot seat at Nebraska, Lincoln Riley's rebuild at USC, and whatever else pops up throughout the college football season.
Again, it's a job any of us would die to have (especially at that price point). But performing it well, for 10 hours a week on live, national TV, for close to 20 straight weeks? There's a reason no one else has tried it.
In an interview with Peter King, Herbstreit shared the rough draft version of his weekly schedule this fall:
It’s crazy. I’m right now trying to organize things just because it is gonna be a hectic week. I’m doing a game every single Saturday and I’m doing College Gameday every single Saturday. Tricky weeks are when Gameday is in one location and then the game I’m calling is in Eugene, Oregon.
Right now, I’m planning to leave Wednesday, meet up with Al, go to the home team’s practice. Go to dinner and we’ll do a Zoom that night with the visiting team. Then we’ll do the game Thursday, and the whole time I’ll be juggling throughout Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. My big thing is talking with coordinators. When I’m able to really lock in on a game, it’s with the coordinators of each team so trying to do that for the game on Monday and Tuesday for the Thursday game and then on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, for the Saturday game. Just trying to find time to be able to do that.
“But right after the game Thursday, I’ll fly to Gameday and then I’ll do Gameday in the morning. It’s a three-hour show from 9 a.m. to noon eastern. Then I’ll either fly to another location to call my ABC Saturday night game, or I’ll stay right there on site at the stadium, call my game, and then fly home Saturday night right after the game. Get home, about two in the morning. The biggest different I’m gonna notice I think is that Sunday for me has been kind of like reset. Like, I’m asleep on the couch. I’m kind of in and out, trying to be a dad. The only game I really watch is Sunday night. I like the pre-game show. Kind of get caught up on everything that happened. Then I watch Al and Cris on Sunday. I watch it and learn. But Sunday’s now gonna be a prep day … I’ll find my rhythm and I’ll get into a routine. Right now I’m just kind of guessing the best I can and trying to organize my days out of the week.
But there's a fourth element at play here, too.
The youngest of his four sons, Chase, is a sophomore at powerhouse St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. Herbstreit made time to attend his older boys' games when they played varsity high school football on Friday nights, and told King he'd do the same when Chase starts on St. X's varsity.
It remains to be seen if Chase wins the QB1 job at St. X, but the elder Herbstreit boys were standouts at Nashville's Montgomery Bell Academy -- plus the fact that Dad was a QB at Ohio State, and grandpa Jim played both ways for the Buckeyes in the late 1950s and early 60s -- and so Chase starting on Friday nights seems like a "when, not if" situation.
Given that reality, let's sketch out Herbstreit's weekly schedule from September through early January:
Monday/Tuesday: NFL/GameDay/Saturday Night Football prep
Wednesday morning: Travel to NFL game site
Wednesday afternoon: Attend home team practice
Wednesday night: Zoom meeting with visiting team
Thursday morning/afternoon: GameDay/Saturday Night prep
Thursday night: Call NFL game, fly to Cincinnati
Friday: GameDay/Saturday Night prep from home
Friday night: St. Xavier game, fly to GameDay site
Saturday morning: GameDay
Saturday afternoon: Fly to Saturday Night location, depending on location
Saturday night: Saturday Night Football
Saturday night/Sunday morning: Fly home
Sunday afternoon: Prep
Herbstreit will be paid handsomely to study football morning, noon and night, and watching him attempt walk this tight rope of a schedule will still producing A+ work will be one of the most interesting subplots to the 2022 football season.