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Thursday, November 02, 2006

Commenting OUTRAGE(!) plus email on this whole Herbstreit-smack thing has been going on for a couple days. So let's address it and get it out of the way. What we're talking about:

"(Receiver Steve) Breaston can go back to whatever he's doing these days, if they could ever find a way to actually apply him in the offense. He's worthless in my mind, outside of returning a few punts. I'll say that, and he'll end up winning the game for them on Nov. 18. But he hasn't done anything since his freshman year."
The "worthless" has gotten a lot of play. I am guilty myself, putting it in the headline of my post on the matter @ The Fanhouse. It makes good distorted, headline-grabbing copy, but distorted is the key word. In context, Herbstreit's statement is clearly about Breaston's value as a football player and one that many Michigan fans have expressed themselves. It's not out of bounds or over the top or requiring censure or whatever. It's clearly exaggerated (Rose Bowl, last year's Iowa and Penn State games) and wrong, but it doesn't cross the line. If he had said "useless" this never would have spilled outside the realm of inadvisable bulletin-board material. It's poor wording and nothing else.

(Side note: what, exactly, is the way to apply a willow-thin wide receiver who's not much for catching the ball? As a third WR -- which is what he'll be once Mario returns -- he's not bad, though.)

A reader sends along a snippet from Herbstreit's chat this afternoon on this topic:
Rick (New York): When you call Steve Breaston "worthless", and promise to meet Eddie George at his restaurant for the OSU "victory party" over U-M, don't you lose your credibility as a national journalist? I bet you don't even have the guts to answer this question.

SportsNation Kirk Herbstreit: (3:27 PM ET ) First of all, I did not call Steve Breaston worthless. I called his production in the Michigan offense worthless since his freshman year. That was probably said more out of frustration for Steve and wishing that he were more of a factor because of his ability to make big plays. I really regret that the newspaper painted me into a corner, making it look as if I called Steve worthless, which I never did. And I would never call any player worthless. But the facts are the facts and he has not been involved in this offense consistently since his freshman year.

SportsNation Kirk Herbstreit: (3:27 PM ET ) The other thing that really ticked me off about that article was the headline that said that I feel that the Michigan defense will fail against Ohio State. I NEVER said Michigan's defense would "fail". I simply said they would not be able to dominate the Ohio State offense the way they've enjoyed dominating everybody they've played up to this point. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I'm an objective analyst, and anybody who's listened to me analyze Michigan over the last 11 years on ESPN, if they were being honest with themselves, would have to say I've always been fair to Michigan. If there's any regret that I have, it would be in using the word "worthless" to describe Breaston's productivity in the Michigan offense. That was not a term that I would ever use about a player and the person who he is. And it was clearly misconstrued, misrepresented and mean-spirited by the paper. I will continue to be objective and I will continue to enjoy seeing Michigan play well. As far as Eddie George's party, for me and my travels, I don't get a chance to see former players very often and I took Eddie's comments about a get-together as just that, win or lose that a bunch of former players were all going to get together. I hope all of the Michigan fans understand that this was clearly an attempt to paint me into a corner, as being anti-Michigan, which is the furthest thing from the truth. I've talked with Bill Martin, the Athletic Director and I have a call into coach Carr. And I'm looking forward to seeing Michigan win their next two games and I literally can't sleep because of my excitement about the Maize and Blue and Scarlet and Gray meeting to decide which of the two teams will play for the national title.
He's right, though the only thing the News did to paint him into a corner is provide a provocative headline. The rest of the article was just Herbstreit quotes provided with context. Other than that, he's right.

So can we focus on something else, like the fairly high probability something nasty will happen to me if I go to the game? And that anyone with a spare ticket or two should email me immediately?