Spencer Hall: What's your double-duty day like on GameDay? How does it start, where does it end, and where do you nap in between?
Kirk Herbstreit: It really depends on the week. I think there are 15 college football Saturdays, and I think last year GameDay and the game I called were in different locations nine times. So if you're on the West Coast in Eugene, Oregon for GameDay and it goes live on the air at 9 a.m. Eastern, which is 6 a.m. out west, then you have to be there at 5 in the morning, so you have to be up around 4. A lot of the times you'll leave Eugene, and I could be heading to Austin, Texas, or to Tallahassee. It all depends on where the ABC game is.
Typically, Disney provides one of their charter planes to get me from one spot to the other. A lot of times, if we go to the hotel at the game site, I'll take a shower and change and head over to the game. You call the game, it ends at about 11:30 or midnight, and I usually do a SportsCenter segment or two after the game. There's no doubt it's a long day, but it's doing something you love, so it's a fun day. But there are times when you don't know what hotel you're in anymore.
1. Know your surroundings
SH: At times do you do the old rock star thing where you're about to yell out, "Hello Cleveland!" but are actually in Buffalo?
KH: No, but honestly, you really do wake up in a hotel, take a wrong turn, and literally forget what hotel room number you're in because everyone has cards now. It's pretty embarrassing to go back to the front desk and have to say, "I'm so sorry, but I don't know what room I'm in." Hopefully you have your ID with you, and can get your room.
After about October you start to get a little bit fatigued, and like you said, you have to nap. I happen to be a really good sleeper on the plane. I'm pretty good at catching up on getting as much rest as I can. The older you get, the more I'm a huge believer in physical activity and getting as much rest as I can. That's cut short by a significant amount in the fall, so I have to catch up where I can.
2. Exercise when you can
SH: The GameDay crew are all gym rats. How do you work out on the road?
KH: I do it as often as I can. I think it's more than exercise for them. It's their therapy. I'm big on [exercising] Monday through Wednesday here at home in Nashville, and then on the road, my goal is Thursday or Friday at the least. If I can get four days in per week, I feel pretty good about what I'm trying to do.
3. Eat smart ...
KH: Like a lot of people, I'm getting up there in age. Before I ate anything and everything. I just inhaled food. I enjoy eating, and I used to be the guy who works out just to eat. Now I'm much smarter about what I eat.
SH: You can get in trouble at the airport.
KH: You're right. It's hard on the road. A lot of times the best you can do is go to a Subway or a Jersey Mike's and get a turkey sandwich. Thursday and Friday night are the two nights when we go out and try to enjoy a good meal, but when it's Thursday or Friday and you're going into production meetings with ESPN, or running over real fast to go talk to Jimbo Fisher or Jameis Winston at Florida State, you literally have like 30 minutes in between. Our ops guys behind the scenes will try to hook us up with food, but it's challenging. Anyone who travels understands eating right on the road is sometimes tough.
SH: The Popeyes in Terminal C at Hartsfield can ruin your week.
KH: Hey, they've got Chobani yogurt now at most airport shops. It's painful, but it's healthy.
4. ... but eat well
SH: Related to food: in the major conferences, where are your favorite places to eat in each?
KH: In the SEC, I'd say Five Bar in Tuscaloosa. They've got outstanding atmosphere and great redfish.
SH: If I went Big Ten on you?
KH: Hyde Park Steakhouse in Columbus.
SH: And in the Pac-12, which I think is deeply underrated for food.
KH: There's a great pizzeria, La Perla, in Eugene.
5. Add these to your bucket list
SH: What are a few places people really should get to that might still be underrated at this point?
KH: Besides Eugene? Because Eugene would definitely be one of the top choices there.
I love going to Columbia, Missouri. That is a really underrated campus. It shocked me when I went there because I really didn't know what to expect. I have four boys, and if they ever ended up saying they wanted to go to Missouri, I'd be very happy for them. It's a clean campus, they love sports, they're diehards when it comes to the Tigers, and I don't think a lot of people realize how good it is. I'd put that on there.
I love Athens, Georgia. It's got everything you're looking for when it comes to the college experience. If you're going to go and take in a game, there's outstanding atmosphere for a game, a great stadium, and you can have a great time on Friday night.
Madison, Wisconsin, is another great spot to take in a game. Those people just live to tailgate. The brats, the beer: every stereotype you might have about a Wisconsin tailgate is alive and well on a Saturday at Camp Randall. It's a really, really cool place where they try to be the difference in the game.
SH: GameDay still hasn't been to Ole Miss, correct?
KH: That's correct.
SH: Is there anywhere besides Ole Miss that you'd really try to get to?
KH: I know we'd never been to Seattle until last year, and that was a big one for me. That is a phenomenal town in general, but it's an especially great football town, and not just for the Seahawks and the 12th Man. You're talking about some killer restaurants, and a place that's just rabid for football. I've been begging the powers that be to put the College Football Playoff in Seattle and make it a host for the Championship. I think Tampa and Phoenix are already up on the board, but Seattle needs to be a serious consideration. It's just a very, very passionate town.
Seattle was one. This is my 19th year on the show, and it seems like we've been talking about getting to Ole Miss for 12 or 13 years. Like, since Eli Manning was a sophomore, we've been talking about wanting to get to the Grove. I've been there when we used to call Thursday night games with Mike Tirico, and did the Egg Bowl every Thanksgiving, so I've never really seen the Grove in all its glory, because that's when school's out. That by far stands out to me as a place we've gotta get.
SH: Alabama at Ole Miss, October 4th. It's just sitting right there.
KH: I know! There will probably be other big games that weekend, but if both teams keep winning, that would be a fun one to get to.
6. Don't beat yourself up
SH: How many phone chargers do you lose a year?
KH: I average about three. I'm the guy who doesn't do a lot of traveling outside of football season. I'm a big routine guy, and it takes me about three weeks to get on autopilot when it comes to travel. Until then, I'm a wreck, just an absolute mess. I'm almost guaranteed to forget my cellphone, my charger, especially when you charge it on your desk in a hotel room. It's a lock that I leave one there. Thankfully I've never really lost my phone on a plane. Give me until Week 3, and I'm good to go.
SH: I'm good for about five a year.
KH: It's just so easy.
7. Cleanliness is everything
SH: Hotels with the best free bathroom gear?
KH: Well, we gotta go next level on that. You're not talking to a guy who covers the NFL, who goes into a lot of big cities. We're in some smaller hotels. I'm not overly sophisticated or picky: I just want a clean bed. I'm a little bit of a germophobe. I made the mistake of watching that Stone Phillips thing about 10 years ago --
SH: -- with the black light?
KH: Yes. It just freaked me out. The things that they found when they looked at the bedspread in a hotel room almost gave me real panic.
As long as I have a clean hotel room, I'm fine. I don't even care about the swag, or the breakfast bar, or anything like that. As long as the room doesn't smell like cigarettes and the sheets look like they've been washed, I'm pretty happy.
8. ULTIMATE KIRK HERBSTREIT LIFEHACK
KH: I told you that I'm a routine guy. Well, the first thing I do when I get in a hotel room is throw the comforter in the closet. I don't know how to iron, so I take all my clothes, put them in a bag, take everything out, turn the shower on as hot as it will go, and hang all of my shirts and suits in the shower and let them sit for 10 minutes or so. It does a great job of ironing for me. This is all within the first five minutes of checking in and getting in the room.
9. Prepare entertainment
SH: If you do kill time while traveling, how do you do it?
KH: Typically I'm studying college football, which is obvious. But if I have some down time ... I just finished up Breaking Bad. I have about three more shows to go. My wife and I did that in the offseason. I'll download different shows, put my headphones on, and just be in the corner with my hat on watching my show. I also typically fall asleep pretty quickly on the plane, too.
10. Chill out on the plane, please, everyone
KH: Just let me air this out while I'm talking to you, since we're talking about planes.
SH: Go ahead.
KH: What is it with people hovering around the gate before their group is announced? Why do we have a hundred people around the door? This guerrilla warfare for overhead space ... I'm not a participant. I'll check 17 bags before I fight somebody to get the overhead space. Ever since the airlines changed it and charged everybody for bags, nobody checks bags anymore, and now we get everyone waiting in a sprinter's stance to claim their territory for their overhead bag.
I have a theory. I think we should charge people to bring bags into the overhead. Not for checking the bag, but for taking up space in the overhead. Might free it up a little bit. I've never seen so many people in a three-point stance in my life. I just bring my backpack and slide it under the chair in front of me. Oh, and when the bell goes off and you get your gate and two or three people just get up instantly, running past you even though there's nowhere to go? Where are they going? I don't understand why these people are in such a hurry.
As soon as it goes "ding" I take my backpack and just stick it in the aisle. I give them an obstacle to either trip over, or they're gonna have to hurdle it to get past my row.
SH: I think the agility test there is fair. If they're agile enough to get over your bag, they can have that space.
KH: They're excited to get on the plane, and they're just as excited to get off the plane. I don't know which one they're more excited for.