ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit discussed the OU-Florida State game and other topics during a conference call Wednesday. Herbstreit will be part of ESPN’s “College GameDay” crew in Tallahassee, Fla., to preview the game Saturday, and then will broadcast the game with Brent Musburger that night.
Here are a few excerpts:
Do you think Florida State has closed the gap enough on Oklahoma?
“That’s why we’re going to play this game Saturday night. That’s what everyone wants to know. Florida State was kind of the dynasty. They were the team for 14 straight years and everyone tried to compare themselves to being Florida State. And for the last nine or 10 years, they have been about an 8-4 team. And they won 10 last year with Jimbo Fisher. They have 16 starters back. And now they get another big moment with Oklahoma. Last year they kind of spit the bit. They weren’t ready to go to Norman. Here they are a year later. They feel that they are more familiar with Jimbo’s and Mark Stoops’ schemes the second year. They feel at home, at night this year, it’s going to be different. That’s why I think this game is going to be so big. It’s not just Florida State trying to beat Oklahoma, who is No. 1. It’s trying to knock on the door of the elite of college football and say Florida State is back. This game represents much, more than the opportunity to knock off the No. 1 team in the country.”
The Sooners haven’t played real well on the road in past years. Is that going to be a factor Saturday night?
“I’m not big on trends of teams of last year or the year before, or ‘Big Game Bob’ or any of that stuff. The one thing I noticed about this team is they have a good group of characters on this team. They have great leadership. I think they have been through a lot as a team. Obviously, some great moments, winning some big games, going to a BCS bowl game and winning that. Beating Nebraska in the Big 12 title game last year. Losing not just a teammate, but a guy a lot of them looked up to in Austin Box, and can kind of mourning his loss and really sharing a lot about how that was tough for all of them. Probably bringing them closer together. Then losing Travis Lewis in camp, who is probably their spiritual leader on the defensive side of the ball. I think there is something really unique about this team. Sometimes when you go on the road and play in a tough environment, those intangibles really come to play and they can really impact the outcome of a football game. I might be wrong. We haven’t really seen Oklahoma tested, but I really like this team. I like the leadership that I am seeing from them.”
Where do you think college football is heading with all this realignment talk?
“I guess it’s inevitable. We’re heading to these four megaconferences that everyone is talking about. I’m a big traditionalist so I am not necessarily real excited about it. I think that there is a lot of posturing right now and a lot of bureaucracy that is going on. I don’t have any sources, but I think eventually you will see Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech all join the Pac-16. And then I think after that, you will see the Big Ten and the SEC get really aggressive on who they try to pursue. It’s really going to be interesting to see how it affects the ACC and the Big East. I think it’s inevitable. I think it’s a shame that we’re going to get away from some of the great rivalries that we have been watching for 70 or 80 years. I hope that we can somehow have those great rivalry games even though we are kind of going in another direction.”