ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit went on national television on Tuesday night and spread unfounded rumors about the Tennessee Vols.

During the College Football Playoff rankings reveal show, Herbstreit said he’s taking Vanderbilt outright to beat the Vols this weekend.

That’s not exactly a bold prediction after watching Vandy beat Florida last week and South Carolina demolish Tennessee.

It’s his reasoning for picking Vandy that’s problematic.

Herbstreit said he’s picking the Commodores because of “fighting” in Tennessee’s locker room.

“Tennessee is not necessarily playing for bowl eligibility and their opportunity to get into the Playoff is gone,” said Herbstreit. “They’re fighting amongst themselves in the locker room, things are not good right now in Knoxville. Plus Hendon Hooker obviously has that injury. So I’ve got a weird feeling on Vandy this week.”

Tennessee Vols
From left, Desmond Howard, Rece Davis, Pat McAfee, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit host the ESPN College GameDay stage outside of Ayres Hall on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. The flagship ESPN college football pregame show returned for the tenth time to Knoxville as the No. 12 Vols hosted the No. 22 Gators.
Kns Espn College Gameday

Herbstreit is basically spreading message board and Twitter rumors on national television.

Real professional, right?

There have been no legitimate reports of lingering locker room issues at Tennessee.

There’s likely something that happened with Jeremy Banks and Hendon Hooker, but I think that stuff has taken on a life of its own thanks to message boards and social media (VolQuest’s Austin Price has debunked many of those rumors, which you can see in detail if you subscribe to their site). Locker room squabbles happen every week at every program in the nation. There are over 100 kids on each roster — it’s not going to be good times and laughs 24/7.

If Herbstreit has “inside information” then he should lead with that before vaguely referencing “fighting amongst themselves”.

I’m guessing, though, that Herbstreit is basing what he said off what he’s seen in his Twitter mentions this past week.

And that’s reckless — especially when Vols offensive lineman Cooper Mays told reporters this week that team chemistry hasn’t been an issue.

Herbstreit’s voice reaches a lot of people. And he likely changed the national perception of Tennessee because he spread rumors without backing up his statement with facts. That could certainly hurt the Vols in recruiting.

Kirk Herbstreit needs to apologize to Tennessee’s players

Herbstreit lost a lot of credibility this week.

It’s one thing to have opinions that people don’t like — that’s part of the job. It’s another thing to disparage a bunch of student-athletes.

Herbstreit should publicly apologize to Tennessee and the players on the team for his unprofessional comments on Tuesday night. It’s the only way to make this right.

By the way, this wouldn’t be the first time that Herbstreit’s had to apologize to a Tennessee player.

Moving forward, Herbstreit should probably be more careful about what he spews on television.

Featured image via Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK