There is a lot to unpack here. I don't love what I am about to write, but I'm going to do my best. While most people in Dawg Nation have moved on from losing Dylan Raiola to Nebraska, him flipping from Georgia to the Cornhuskers is back in the news cycle again because of something his father Dominic Raiola said earlier this week. He straight-up said ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit influenced his son's decision.
While Herbstreit is an Ohio State alum, the school where the five-star quarterback from Greater Phoenix originally committed to, he has risen to the top of his profession as college football's greatest analyst because of well-thought-out takes and unbiased analysis. While I have spoken to him once before many years ago, and came away very impressed, this doesn't land well with me at all.
Here is exactly what Dominic Raiola said about Herbstreit influencing his son's college decision.
I'll bring up one guys name, his name is Kirk Herbstreit. When he saw the smoke about Dylan entertaining Nebraska, he was like call me, he was like 'Dude if this is true, he's gotta do it."
This isn't illegal, and I wouldn't say it is tampering either because Herbstreit doesn't work for a university, only Disney. However, this is really unethical of Herbstreit because of his influence.
This comes on the heels of people thinking he told the College Football Playoff Selection Committee to keep undefeated ACC champion Florida State out of the field in favor of a one-loss Alabama team. Alabama as a good team and an SEC champion, but the Crimson Tide kind of shoehorned their way into the playoff field. And guess who will be a College GameDay colleague of Herbstreit? Nick Saban!
While I no problem with Raiola ending up at Nebraska because his father is a legend there, his uncle is on Matt Rhule's staff and there is a far better opportunity to start as a true freshman at UNL than at UGA with Carson Beck returning, you can't have half the sport thinking your product is totally rigged. ESPN has played a huge part in conference realignment and the death of the Pac-12 as a conference.
Although Herbstreit may have told Raiola this in confidence, his son's recruitment was a debacle.
Kirk Herbstreit may have influenced Dylain Raiola flipping to Nebraska
The fact I even debated in my head that this could have been a way for Herbstreit to get back at Georgia from getting Raiola flipping to the Dawgs from Ohio State gives me even more pause about this. Nobody is that sinister or that spiteful, but do you understand why this is such a big deal? It is okay for someone like Herbstreit to have biases where he played, but you cannot play god like this...
I envision that Raiola will have a fine college career at Nebraska, but it wouldn't shock me if he transferred at least once before turning pro in three, four or even five years. He did play at four different high schools, including at Buford in Georgia not all that far from Athens where he was going to play his college football at until he wasn't. It sucks that recruitment is getting slimier by the second.
All things equal, Raiola should have gone to Nebraska, and that is where he ended up. He is a legacy with an opportunity to start all three or four years he is there on an ascending program led by a great college head coach in Matt Rhule. Unfortunately, it has been a decade from hell for the Huskers, which is why other teams like Georgia and Ohio State were even in the picture to land Raiola in 2024.
Overall, there has been baggage and red tape everywhere Raiola has been. Not every blue-chip recruit is like this, as some just want to play ball. Again, these generational quarterbacks coming out of high school live a different life than the rest of us. They have been groomed to do this since before puberty. The pressure they face would break most people, so I respect having to navigate all of this.
However, we can't compromise the integrity of the sport, whether that is through gross inducement like we have started to see in the wonderful world of NIL, or through acts of in-game shenanigans, such as sign-stealing. Innocence died a long time ago. What remains are varying shades of grey, ones that we must use our best judgement to decipher through. Welcome to the wonderful world of ethics!
Believe it or not, I actually have a degree pertaining to this, so I've weighed the pros and cons in this.