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With College GameDay on campus, a Q & A with Kirk Herbstreit and Erin Andrews

By Tim Rohan, Daily Sports Editor
and Michael Florek, Daily Sports Editor
Published September 9, 2011

Kirk Herbsreit and Erin Andrews are in town as well as the rest of the ESPN gang for College GameDay, which returns to Ann Arbor after a four year hiatus.

Andrews said she thinks the Big House is quiet and Herbstreit said it's only a matter of time until Hoke turns Michigan's fortunes around.

Check out the rest of what the two had to say about Michigan and Saturday's first-ever night game in Michigan history.

The Michigan Daily: As a former Ohio State quarterback, what has your experience like doing College GameDay in Ann Arbor?

Kirk Herbstreit: It’s been good. I’m not your typical basher. I pretty much treat Michigan like I treat Illinois, or Florida, or USC, or Ohio State. To me, they’re teams. When I have a job to talk about what’s good. When I talk about what’s bad, I talk about what’s bad.

My dad played at Ohio State. I played at Ohio State. We were both captains. My dad also coached with Bo (Schembechler) and Woody (Hayes). So I was brainwashed to respect Michigan. Not ever be happy when they lose to Appalachian State, or when they lose a bowl game. I cheer for Michigan — the fan in me, cheers for Michigan, if they play in a non-conference game, play in a bowl game, because they represent the Big Ten.

And as a guy who travels all over the country and hears all about how bad the Big Ten is. When Appalachian State beats Michigan or whoever beats Michigan, as far as an (Southeastern Conference) fan is concerned, they beat Ohio State.

I don’t know how Michigan fans feel about me. But I’m always very fair and I tell it how it is. Whether they like it or not, I guess that’s up to them.

TMD: Telling it like it is, what’s your opinion of this year’s Michigan football team?

Herbstreit: I think it’s too early to get a feel and gauge what direction they’re going. I like Brady Hoke. I like being around the football office, feeling it’s Michigan.

It feels like Michigan, with Brady and bringing back some of the traditions, and just because he’s been around the staff.

That family tree, with Bo and Gary (Moeller) and Lloyd (Carr) — Rich (Rodriguez) tried to get a feel for it, and I don’t think he ever got it — and now I think with Brady it’s back to that.

I think the big thing Michigan fans are going to have to do is be patient. Because even though people want 11 or 12 wins right now, the reality is that the roster doesn’t have the type of personnel you’re going to have in two or three years of recruiting.

Once they get that foundation back to the typical Michigan type of personnel, then I think the sky’s the limit to going and getting their fans back to the type of program they’re used to having.

At this point, it’s more of a work-in-progress. You’re lucky to have Denard Robinson, who’s so creative and so explosive on one side of the ball. And the defense, you guys tell me, who’s a difference maker on that side of the ball. Who’s the guy that when they take the field, you have to prepare and figure out a way to deal with him.

I just did LSU-Oregon, and LSU has seven, maybe eight, and Michigan doesn’t have that right now.

TMD: Did what happen with Rodriguez set Michigan back?

Herbstreit: I don;’t think so, because there are too many examples of teams that, right away, have been able to go find a new coach, then in two years they win a national championship. Not just, Jim Tressel, Urban Meyer, Gene Chizik, Bob Stoops. I mean there are four examples, going back to 2000, where we’ve seen coaches just in their second year look like a team that’s in disarray, but they kind of get ahold of them and get them heading in a good direction.

I’m not saying that that’s automatically going to happen at Michigan, because I don’t think Brady Hoke’s inheriting the type of personnel that those other four coaches maybe inherited.

But I do think there’s a very good chance over the course of three years of recruiting — because it’s Michigan. At the end of the day, no matter what anybody thinks, Michigan football is Michigan. Eventually the cream rises and they will get their talent back. And they’ll get the program back.

This is one of the programs, they don’t really take steps back. They might have a few rocky years where they’re a little bit embarrassed by what happened. But it’s a matter of time until Michigan gets back to being elite in the country.

TMD: What do you think the outlook is for Saturday’s game?

Herbstreit: Notre Dame thinks they’re a BCS team. If they lose this game, now you’re 0-2, with some big games left to go. I think the BCS at that point is out of reach.

And for Michigan, there’s a lot at stake too. Even though it’s not a conference game, you’ve got a new coach, you’re trying to get ready for the Big Ten. If you win this game, you look at the rest of their schedule, there’s a very good chance they’re 5-0, as they get ready for the meat and grind of where they’re going to be.

For me, there’s a lot at stake for both teams.

TMD: Looking back at the 91 season what do you remember about playing against Desmond?

Herbstreit: I remember our punt team late in the game trying to cover Des and seeing a bunch of slow guys trying to stop him and just remember Des — I was standing on the like the left 25 and I just remember him coming right down the sidelines and literally watching him walk right in and I just kept watching him.

I just happened to watch him. I didn’t even think about him doing a pose but just to see him celebrate because that was like the nail in the coffin for that game and then he pulled that Heisman pose and at the time it didn’t really — because it happened so fast in real time, it was like, ‘Dang, he just did that. I can’t believe that.’

That’s kind of what you’re thinking but it happened so fast it was over you just move on and take another beating, when I was there. Now, it’s almost become the Heisman trophy itself. It’s been great to have him on the show and he and I get along. The funny thing about Ohio State-Michigan is their fans hate each other, but the former players, there’s really a respect with Ohio State and Michigan players because they’re so similar in the type of people that they are and there’s such a respect for that rivalry and I’m very proud of everything he’s accomplished. He’s such a class act.

TMD: What’s the biggest difference between Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees?

Herbstreit: Well based on last week, I guess the only fair way to evaluate it, Dayne Crist is physically imposing, he’s everything you’re looking for as far as his makeup. He’s got the big, strong arms, tall but he looked a little hesitant in some of his decisions. The fumble at the one-yard line, went all the way the other way.

They never recovered from that. That was a 14-point swing. Obviously, they had five turnovers but it seemed to affect the offense, their confidence. And unfortunately it was his turn to be the quarterback when that happened. The funny thing is if they score on that drive, he’s probably still the quarterback and they’re probably 1-0 coming into this game, but that one play completely flipped that football game around and was kind of microcosm of how that game went.

Tommy Rees comes in and to me he was making quick decisions, he’s not going to blow you away with a big strong arm but he’s accurate. And any quarterback coach and any offensive coordinator will tell you that decision-making and accuracy are the two most important things and he put that on display last year for four games when they won them and then also in the half that he played in this game against South Florida.

If you’re Michigan, they’re disguising coverages with Greg Mattison. They’re blitzing, they’re not blitzing, they’re backing up. It’s going to be can they get to Tommy Rees, because he can’t move. Can you get to Tommy Rees and make him have to reshuffle his feet, make him hold the ball? If you do that Michigan can create some turnovers but if he gets into rhythm and gets back there and gets rid of it, he’s got enough questions to make them pay for it.

Erin Andrews

TMD: What are your impressions of Brady Hoke?

Erin Andrews: I love Brady Hoke. I’m a big fan. We had an opportunity to go to practice yesterday. I get a big kick out of how he’s just running up and down the field and how he’s screaming at the guys. You really feel like he’s really part of the D-line actually.

I’ve known Greg Mattison for a couple years now because coaching with the Florida Gators and I developed a relationship with his and his family so obviously I was a huge fan of him coming here but Brady is just a football coach. That’s exactly what he is. We interviewed him last year for College GameDay when he was with San Diego State and he was just really upbeat, so excited to be talking to the media and stuff like that.

Even when we went to his office last night, he’s just really excited to turn this thing around. You just get such a positive energy and a great vibe when you talk to him.

TMD: What’s your take on the atmosphere for tomorrow night’s game?

Andrews: I can’t wait. I think first of all it’s hilarious that it’s the first night game and they’re so much into having a night game because that’s all we work, are night game. You just don’t think, really? Could this really be the first one. But I talked to a few players at practice and you know, ‘Are you excited? Are you excited?’ a couple of guys were like, ‘Yeah we’re excited but we’re more excited to play Notre Dame.’

The few games that I’ve covered here at Michigan Stadium, I’ve always been amazed by how quiet it is. And I’m excited because of the renovations that they’ve done to the stadiums and I just think the build up and the fact that you can’t find a ticket to go to this thing. They’re expecting over capacity, so I’m hoping it’s actually loud for once. And you know, ‘The students handle themselves in a respectful manner,’ which is hysterical that they’re making such a big deal out of that.