Kirk Herbstreit found himself embroiled in controversy within the college football community following accusations regarding his potential influence in a top prospect’s commitment decision.
The player in question was five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola, whose recruitment journey was marked by twists and turns. Raiola initially committed to Ohio State as a junior, then switched his pledge to Georgia under Kirby Smart’s program. However, just days before signing day, he reconsidered and ultimately chose Nebraska, his father’s alma mater, coached by Matt Rhule.
While many attributed Raiola’s change of heart to family ties, allegations surfaced earlier this month implicating Kirk Herbstreit in the decision-making process.
Dylan Raiola’s father revealed, “When Kirk said this, I was like, ‘Man… this place is special,'” suggesting that Herbstreit’s endorsement played a role.
However, Herbstreit refuted the claims on the Paul Finebaum Show, asserting that he merely offered his opinion when asked about Matt Rhule and Nebraska.
Herbstreit’s response appeared defensive, understandable given the scrutiny questioning his impartiality as a college football personality.
He defended his actions, stating, “Of course, I did not try to sell Nebraska and try to tell anybody not to go to Georgia… But I did compliment Matt Rhule. If I’m guilty of anything, I said that Matt Rhule is a good coach and he’s a good man.”
Despite Herbstreit’s denial, speculation persists, with some alleging a Big Ten bias and accusing him of attempting to sway Raiola’s decision away from Georgia.
This controversy adds to Herbstreit’s reputation as a divisive figure in college football, with Georgia fans now joining Florida State in criticizing his perceived influence, particularly regarding the College Football Playoff committee’s decisions.
Overall, Herbstreit’s involvement in Raiola’s recruitment underscores the complexities and controversies surrounding college football recruiting.