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College GameDay (football)

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College GameDay
ESPN College GameDay logo.svg
logo from 2005-2009
Starring Rece Davis
Lee Corso
Kirk Herbstreit
Desmond Howard
David Pollack
Samantha Ponder
Country of origin United States
Location(s) Bristol, Connecticut
See locations below
Running time 180 minutes
Original channel ESPN
Original release 1987 (1987) – present

College GameDay is an ESPN entertainment show previewing college football games. It first aired in 1987 with Tim Brando as host and Lee Corso and Beano Cook as commentators. Beginning more-or-less as a report on college football games, the show would undergo a radical transformation beginning in 1993 as the show began incorporating "live" broadcasts. The official name of the show is College GameDay built by The Home Depot. There is a separate radio broadcast, ESPN Radio College GameDay, on ESPN Radio.

Today, the only original cast member remaining is Lee Corso.[1] Chris Fowler serves as host and Kirk Herbstreit, former Ohio State quarterback, serves as Corso's counterpart and foil. Starting in 2008, former Michigan receiver and Heisman Trophy-winner Desmond Howard has been added to the cast in the show's introduction. Former SMU running back Craig James served as an analyst from 1990 to 1995. Erin Andrews joined the GameDay crew as a co-host and contributor in 2010, replaced in 2012 by Samantha Ponder. On September 5, 2015, Rece Davis (also host of the college basketball version of GameDay), will replace Fowler as host of the college football version, which itself will start its 29th season on that day.

The show is known for its prediction segment that appears on each broadcast. Typically there are three predictors: Corso, Herbstreit, and an invited guest, usually a celebrity, prominent athlete, or radio personality associated with the host university or school for that week. The end of the show always concludes with a catch phrase and prediction from Corso, who subsequently dons the mascot's headgear of the school he predicts to win the game, usually to the ire or excitement of local fans.

Beginning with the 2013 season, GameDay airs for three hours on ESPN. Previously, beginning in 2010, the first hour of the show was broadcast on ESPNU at 9am ET, with the 2 remaining hours of the show on ESPN from 10am-noon ET.


The GameDay crew record a post-game segment for SportsCenter at Nebraska on September 15, 2007.




In 1993, GameDay began broadcasting live from outside a stadium hosting a game most Saturdays. The selected stadium is usually hosting one of the biggest matchups of the day, regardless of whether the game airs on an ESPN network. The first show "on the road" took place at South Bend, Indiana for the match up between #2 Notre Dame and #1 FSU. The show takes on a festive tailgate party atmosphere, as thousands of fans gather behind the broadcast set, in view of the show's cameras. Many fans bring flags or hand-painted signs as well, and the school's cheerleaders and mascots often join in the celebration. Crowds at GameDay tapings are known to be quite boisterous and very spirited. Flags seen at the broadcast are not limited to those of the home team; for example, one large Washington State flag can be seen at every broadcast, regardless of the location or the teams involved. The idea began in 2003 on WSU online fan forums and has resulted in the flag being present at more than 159 consecutive GameDay broadcasts since 2004.[3][4][5]

The show's current intro and theme music is performed by country music duo Big & Rich, who perform their 2005 crossover hit "Comin' to Your City" with revised lyrics that mention several top college teams and a guest appearance by Cowboy Troy. Rap artist Macklemore (who first appeared in the intro for the basketball version of College GameDay in 2013), now appears in the intro for this show, starting with the 2014 season. Additional music that has been used for the show include "Boom" by the rock group P.O.D. and God Bless Saturday by Kid Rock.

At Virginia Tech in November 2005, Corso picks Miami to upset the Hokies. Note the head of Sebastian the Ibis.

Typically, the show will end with Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit issuing their predictions for that day's key matchups, finishing with the game to be played at the stadium hosting GameDay, for which Corso signifies his prediction by donning the head piece of the mascot of his predicted winner. Starting with the 2009 season, a celebrity guest picker will give picks for the day's key games alongside the GameDay regulars (such as Bob Knight when GameDay aired from Texas Tech in 2008). Prior to 2009, this was not done on a regular basis. Herbstreit, who in 2006 became a game analyst for ABC's Saturday Night Football, is not allowed to make a pick for the game at which he is assigned due to parent company Disney's conflict of interest rules; however, he is allowed to give one or two keys to the game.

In past years, when no suitably important game was available, it would originate instead from the ESPN studios.

College GameDay was also a source for many arguments regarding the purported east coast bias: From 1993 until 2004, GameDay had only been to two regular season games on the entire West Coast (1998 at UCLA and 2000 at Oregon). Given the popularity of the show and the media coverage it brought to the highlighted game, teams and fans of the West Coast teams felt that the show was only magnifying the perceived problems with excess media focus on East, South and Midwest games; ESPN attributed its lack of West Coast games to the need for a very early start time (07:00 AM PST) and an alleged lack of high quality matchups.[6]

With the addition of the Saturday Night Football game on ABC in 2006, GameDay has increasingly aired from that game. This could be done for many reasons including the fact Kirk Herbstreit is on both programs, thus making it easier for him. Another reason could be to give the Saturday Night Football game added exposure.

Beginning with the show's 21st season (2007), College GameDay began broadcasting in high-definition on ESPN HD.

College GameDay expanded to 3 hours, with the first hour being televised on ESPNU beginning September 4, 2010. In addition, ESPN Radio simulcasts the television version from 9am-noon ET. Other changes include the addition of a female contributor—first Erin Andrews in 2010 and 2011, and then Samantha Ponder (then known by her maiden name, Samantha Steele) after Andrews left ESPN for Fox following the 2011 season. Both Andrews and Ponder have anchored several segments during the first hour on ESPNU, contributed during the ESPN portion, and also worked as a sideline reporter on the game from which College GameDay originated, if it aired on one of the ESPN family of networks (i.e. ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ABC).[7]

Beginning with the 2013 season, the third hour moved to ESPN and was hosted by Fowler.

As previously mentioned, beginning with the 29th season (2015), Rece Davis (who is also the host of the college basketball version) replaced Chris Fowler as the football version's new host. Fowler, in turn, was reduced to play-by-play duties on ABC's Saturday Night Football.


Notable editions

20th Anniversary memorable moments

Chris Fowler and Desmond Howard conducting post-game coverage for GameDay in Columbus, Ohio in September 2009.

During the 2006 season, as part of College GameDay's 20th year anniversary, they brought back some of the most unforgettable moments in the show's history.[10] Some of the clips include:

  • College GameDay Hits the Road: On November 13, 1993, College GameDay hit the road, after six years in the studio, to see the #2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish take on the #1 Florida State Seminoles in "The Game of the Century". Lee Corso picked Florida State to win 31-30, but the end result had Notre Dame winning 31–24.
  • Herbstreit Joins GameDay: On August 31, 1996, former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Kirk Herbstreit joined the College GameDay crew, to complete the cast that has been changed a little bit since his debut.
  • Corso's First Mascot Head: On October 5, 1996, a tradition started when Lee Corso picked Ohio State to beat Penn State by sporting a facsimile of Brutus Buckeye's mascot head. Since that day, every College GameDay has ended with Corso sporting the team's headgear, usually a mascot head (eventually shifting to official mascot heads provided by the university) or another headpiece when a team does not have a suited mascot, such as a Trojan-style helmet for USC or the signature winged helmet of Michigan. For the game between Harvard and Penn that GameDay did in 2002, Corso dressed as Benjamin Franklin and in 2011 he dressed as a Tree to pick Stanford.


The Dan Patrick Show controversy

On September 24, 2011, special guest West Virginia head basketball coach Bob Huggins made a reference to the oversized head cutout of former ESPN broadcaster (and current host of a well-listened-to national radio show) Dan Patrick that was visible within the crowd behind the broadcast set.[11] Host Chris Fowler proceeded to laugh nervously then quickly change the subject, as Dan Patrick had been involved in a dispute with ESPN since leaving the network. Following the College GameDay broadcast of Texas vs. Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl two weeks later, Patrick reported on his radio show that fans had been turned away by security if they had signs or cutouts that featured obvious references to him or The Dan Patrick Show.[12] Despite these restrictions, attendees in Dallas were able to bring in a sign that read "Chris in Syracuse", a reference to a listener who calls into the show daily.[13] Patrick dubbed the movement "Occupy GameDay" - after the Occupy Wall Street protests that had spread across the nation in the summer of 2011, and claims that he and the Danettes "do not encourage it, but we do celebrate it."[14] Occupy Gameday was still ongoing as of November 26, 2011 and some "occupy gameday" signs still hang in Patrick's Mancave, where his radio show is produced in Milford, Connecticut.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d
  3. ^ Steward Mandel, Burning questions about BCS, a few candidates for Tennessee and more,, November 12, 2008, Accessed November 12, 2008.
  4. ^ Michael Hiestand, 'GameDay' flag relay is worth a salute, USA TODAY, October 30, 2008, Accessed November 12, 2008.
  5. ^
  6. ^ As Mark Gross, coordinating producer of GameDay, noted: "You're asking a thousand people to show up 12 hours before the game starts [. . . ] By no means are we ignoring (USC). We always discuss the possibility. But the time is something to think about." Patrick Kinmartin, What time is it? Time for 'College GameDay' to make its way to L.A., The Daily Trojan, April 8, 2004.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ ESPN College GameDay Information (compiled with help from ESPN research staff & school SIDs)
  9. ^
  10. ^ Business Wire News Releases (2006). "ESPN Consumer Products Unveils Branded College Gameday Apparel; Kicks Off In 1500 Stores Nationally To Coincide With ESPN's First Saturday Telecast of College GameDay This Season". Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^

External links

  • [2] ESPN College GameDay Information (compiled with help from ESPN research staff & school SIDs)