Kirk Herbstreit says he did not push for Dylan Raiola to commit to Nebraska.
The ESPN analyst found himself at the center of one of the biggest recruiting stories of the 2024 cycle this week after former Nebraska center Dominic Raiola talked about a conversation he had with Herbstreit. Dominic Raiola, the father of five-star recruit Dylan Raiola, told Rivals that Herbstreit had called him when news emerged that his son was considering flipping his commitment from Georgia to Nebraska. According to Dominic Raiola, Herbstreit said that Dylan had “got to do it.”
— Rivals (@Rivals) February 7, 2024
Thursday, Herbstreit appeared on the Paul Finebaum Show and denied that he had advocated for Dylan Raiola to pick Nebraska over Georgia.
Kirk Herbstreit gives his take on the phone call he had with Dylan Raiola's dad before the QB recruit flipped his commitment from Georgia to Nebraska pic.twitter.com/W7fWbSrKHq
— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) February 8, 2024
“I of course did not sell Nebraska and try to tell anybody not to go to Georgia,” Herbstreit said. “That’s the most ridiculous thing anybody would do. But I did compliment Matt Rhule. If I’m guilty of anything I said that Matt Rhule is a good coach and he’s a good man. I believe that he will bring Nebraska back like the way he did Temple and Baylor.”
After Dominic Raiola made his comments, it was hard to understand why ESPN’s top college football analyst would be attempting to influence recruits’ college decisions. But Herbstreit’s explanation makes total sense. And seems like a far likelier way the conversation went.
Dylan Raiola is the No. 1 quarterback in the class of 2024, according to Rivals, and the No. 2 prospect in the entire country. He committed to Georgia during his junior year of high school and the Raiola family even moved to Georgia so he could play his senior season of high school football in the state. But the lure of Nebraska and the family ties to the school — his father was an All-American at Nebraska in 2000 — ultimately proved to be too strong.
He’s the biggest recruit Nebraska has landed in years as it attempts to be consistently competitive in the Big Ten. The Cornhuskers haven’t been to a bowl game since the 2016 season after going to a bowl game in all but two years from 1969-2015.