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Kirk Herbstreit defends role in Dylan Raiola flip to Nebraska


Dylan Raiola’s flip on the eve of the early signing period made waves in the college football world. It continues to do so, with ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit’s “involvement” in the five-star quarterback’s flip from Georgia to Nebraska.

According to Rivals, the quarterback is the second-best player in the nation in the class of 2024.

In a recent interview with Rivals, Dominic Raiola said that Herbstreit, a former Ohio State quarterback who is one of ESPN’s biggest personalities, offered advice to the family in the days leading up to the Nebraska flip.

With his father a former standout at Nebraska and his brother on staff, the decision by Dylan Raiola to leave in-state Georgia for the Big Ten program certainly makes sense. But it is Herbstreit’s involvement that has raised some eyebrows.

There were questions about the appropriateness concerning Herstreit’s involvement in the star quarterback ending up in Nebraska for head coach Matt Rhule’s rebuilding of the program.

In an appearance Thursday on the Paul Finebaum Show, Herbstreit clarified and defended his role.

“When somebody calls and says ‘What do you think of Matt Rhule’ and you like Matt Rhule…are you supposed to say Matt Rhule is a bad guy? Matt Rhule is an idiot? Matt Rhule is a bad coach? Or do you say ‘I like Matt Rhule. I think Matt Rhule is a good coach.’ And the other part of it that he said, I think the family legacy,” Herbstreit told ESPN’s Finebaum.

“I think he mentioned his brother was an assistant coach (Donovan Raiola) there at Nebraska and of course, Dom was a great player there himself, an All-American.

“And I think it sounded like the family, out of their respect for their love for Nebraska, that they were really torn. That’s what he made it sound like.”

Herbstreit said that the story was compelling to him. Before he decided to flip, Dylan Raiola was weighing his current commitment to Georgia, a juggernaut program that has two national championships in recent years.

 

But the heart, Herbstreit said, was tugging for Nebraska.

“I felt like being a guy that went to Ohio State and a lot of it had to do with my dad (Jim Herbstreit was a former Ohio State player and assistant coach)…I just said ‘Wow, the fact that your son can go to any school, any powerhouse that is competing for national titles and because of his respect for his own dad, he’s thinking about maybe going to Nebraska?’ A place that hasn’t competed for national titles in 20 years,” Kirk Herstreit said.

“That says about who the kid is. It’s not just about going to the NFL.”

In closing out his defense, the ESPN analyst made it clear that his advice was not geared toward pushing Dylan Raiola in the direction of one program or another.

“I of course did not try and sell Nebraska and try to tell anyone not to go to Georgia. That’s the most ridiculous thing that anybody would do,” Kirk Herbstreit said.

“But I did compliment Matt Rhule – if I’m guilty of anything, I said that Matt Rhule was a good coach and he’s a good man. I do believe he will bring Nebraska back, like he did Temple and Baylor.”



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