By BRANDON WALKER
FORT WALTON BEACH – The streak of football luminaries serving as the guest speaker for the All Sports Association’s annual banquet is about to reach four years.
In 2011, NFL Hall of Famer and former University of Miami great Jim Kelly was the association’s keynote speaker. In 2012, Alabama head coach Nick Saban got the call and last year, Florida State legend Deion Sanders spoke to a standing-room only crowd at the Emerald Coast Convention Center.
This year, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit will get his turn, as the All Sports Association announced this week that Herbstreit would serve as speaker for the organization’s 45th annual banquet. The event is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 7.
“We are very excited,” said All Sports Association president Kevin Locht. “To get Kirk has been one of my goals since being elected to the Executive Board. It took a great deal of effort from a number of All Sports members to help get the ball rolling, and the February time frame is perfect as its one of the only months that Kirk has any ‘down time.’ I know the value of family time and I think we are lucky to have Kirk as our speaker this year.”
A former quarterback at Ohio State University that led the Buckeyes to the 1992 Citrus Bowl, Herbstreit is a vital part of ESPN’s college football coverage. A mainstay on the network’s College Gameday, Herbstreit also serves as lead color analyst for ABC Sports’ prime time football games. Nominated for multiple Sports Emmy Awards, Herbstreit’s name has become synonymous with college football on ESPN, and is one of the sport’s most respected voices.
“Kirk is a huge part of college sports and he is a fantastic family man,” said Locht. “We feel that falls perfectly in line with the values of the All Sports Association.”
The banquet is the association’s premier event annually, helping the organization give back to multiple groups that benefit children in the area. Last year, the association donated nearly $30K each to the Boys & Girls Club, the YMCA and Special Olympics. Recognition handed out at the banquet includes the Wuerffel Trophy, the Col. Al Byrne Award and a number of other awards aimed at local professional and amateur athletes.
Herbstreit will join a list of speakers that includes legends like Bobby Bowden, Archie Manning and Paul “Bear” Bryant.