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ESPN star rips USC and Caleb Williams over vulgar fingernail message: ‘They need to clean that s— up’

USC quarterback Caleb Williams may have won the Heisman Trophy after a terrific sophomore season with the Trojans but the fingernail message he sent during the Pac-12 Championship Game still rubbed at least one person the wrong way.

Kirk Herbstreit, a longtime college football analyst for ESPN who also calls NFL games for Amazon, laid into Williams and USC coach Lincoln Riley after the quarterback painted his fingernails to read “F— Utah” before the conference title game. USC would end up losing.

“Can Lincoln maybe police that a little bit?” Herbstreit wondered. “That’s not a great representation of him or the school. He can paint whatever he wants. Fight On, maybe, would work. But I don’t know about these, the Notre Dame and Utah.

“That represents not just himself, but ‘SC and Lincoln Riley,” he said. “They need to clean that s— up.”


USC head coach Lincoln Riley holds his daughter's hand as he leaves the field after the Trojans beat Notre Dame at the Coliseum on Nov. 26, 2022, in Los Angeles.

Herbstreit caught himself and apologized right after dropping the curse word live on air. When quizzed by Pat McAfee over what he said, Herbstreit played coy.

Williams came under fire for his fingernails in the Pac-12 title game. Even in the loss, he was 28-of-41 with 363 passing yards and three touchdown passes. The loss knocked USC out of contention for the College Football Playoff.

Quarterback Caleb Williams celebrates after USC defeated Notre Dame 38-27 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 26, 2022.

USC ended up with a Jan. 2 matchup against Tulane in the Cotton Bowl Classic instead.

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