Analysts are supposed to be unbiased in their work - it's perhaps the one aspect of announcing that draws the most skepticism, controversy, and outrage from fans. "Announcer X is biased against my team or my league!" "I don't like Announcer Y because he hates our team!" Things get complicated when a former player from a given team or university enters into the sports media and has to answer to charges of bias. Usually, criticism comes from fans of rival schools, teams, or conferences. But, I can't ever remember an analyst actually leaving his hometown based on criticism from his own fans. That's exactly what has happened with Kirk Herbstreit.
ESPN's top college analyst has reportedly come under so much fire from rabid Buckeye fans that he actually moved his family to Nashville from Columbus. Here's some Herbie quotes from Bob Hunter's article in the Columbus Dispatch...
"Nobody loves Ohio State more than me," said Herbstreit, a former Buckeyes quarterback. "I still have a picture of Woody Hayes and my dad (Jim, a former OSU player) in my office, and nobody will do more than I do for the university behind the scenes. But I've got a job to do, and I'm going to continue to be fair and objective. To continue to have to defend myself and my family in regards to my love and devotion to Ohio State is unfair."
"From a sports perspective, this is rough," he said. "I love Ohio State. Love the Blue Jackets. Love the Reds. Those are my hobbies. I don't like moving. I love living here. I don't want to leave. But I just can't do this anymore. I really can't keep going like this.
"Eighty to ninety percent of the Ohio State fans are great. It's the vocal minority that make it rough. They probably represent only 5 to 10 percent of the fan base, but they are relentless."
As someone who lives in Columbus, let me tell you that this would be a huge local story... if it wasn't for that little controversy going on with Ohio State's head coach. As a C-Bus resident, I can say that the perspective on Herbie is mixed. Certainly, there are many that love him as a former Buckeye and TV personality. Then, there is indeed that 5 to 10 percent of fans that are absolute nutcases and probably think the NFL labor dispute is a grand conspiracy against the Buckeyes. However, there are also many levelheaded Ohio State fans that see Herbstreit as often going too far in the direction of objectivity towards an anti-OSU bias. Therefore, I don't think this story is as crystal clear as "insane Ohio State fans drive local hero out of town."