Behind The Scenes

Nightmare on Herbstreit

A ghoulish prank left Kirk Herbstreit speechless in the booth.
A ghoulish prank left Kirk Herbstreit speechless in the booth.

Even though the ABC Saturday Night Football crew had a game to call on Halloween night – Notre Dame’s 24-20 win over Temple – while the rest of the country was costumed and face-deep in their candy bags, Chris Fowler made sure to bring some Halloween spirit into the game booth.

Fowler and the production team had toured the nearby Eastern State Penitentiary on Friday night, for its “Terror Behind the Walls” haunted house attraction. So impressed were they by the experience, Fowler asked if two of the ghouls could stop by the SNF booth at halftime for a little fun. Lead producer Bill Bonnell agreed to the plan, and no one told game analyst Kirk Herbstreit.

“Kirk had opted out of our crew visit,” Fowler said. “He admits the scary stuff is not for him. So, I had the idea to bring the show to him.”

With some key merry pranksters in on the rouse, the ghouls were kept hidden from Herbstreit until the post-halftime analysis. After Chris’ first question to Herbie, the ghouls were to appear in the booth.

“They were supposed to just join the guys while they discussed the game. I didn’t know they’d run right to Herbie,” Bonnell said.

Run they did, creating a “haunting” sports television moment not soon to be forgotten:

Herbstreit’s startled reaction to the costumed creatures rendered co-host Fowler speechless. It was no different in the production truck. “The truck erupted. Nobody could speak for at least 30 seconds,” said Bonnell.

Fowler said, “I thought he’d be startled, but that reaction was unexpected. . . the audio!,” adding, “We got him good. The clip will live a looong time.”

Afterwards, as reactions poured in on Twitter and news sites posted clips of the scare, Herbstreit fired a warning shot at his co-workers:

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