Since literally as early as I can remember, I’ve spent every Saturday morning that falls between September and December watching College GameDay on ESPN.
The show is an adrenaline shot to the vein for me. The introduction’s pump-up song coupled with big football play highlights; the familiar voices of Reece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, and Lee Corso; and the pure energy the show has regarding college football and its stories and facts have excited for me for years.
One thing, more than all the other parts of it I mention above, that has been the prime reason I watch GameDay though, is the absolute chaos that it brings to the campus of the week.
Each week, GameDay selects the best Saturday game and brings the entire set to the dead center of that home team’s campus. Not only does it make the student body and supporting fan base go absolutely bonkers behind the camera from the get-go, adding incredible energy to the show, but it also allows for the hosts to draw reactions from the crowd that are so genuine, exciting, and rare that it makes the whole show feel relatable, real, and like one big party.
To top all of that off, since 1996, legendary host Lee Corso has been capping off the show by sticking his head inside the mascot head of whichever school he predicts will win the game taking place on the selected campus that week. This draws applause or boos from the home fan base that deafens the camera at times.
Some of the all-time GameDay highlights include Lee Corso’s first headgear pick at Ohio State in 1996. Mark Herzlich announcing he is cancer-free on BC’s campus in 2009. Katy Perry predicting Ole Miss’s upset against Alabama in 2014. Hell, even Lee Corso calling a five-year-old boy a midget on live TV in 2012.
I’ve had my issues with GameDay before. They go to Alabama too much. They skip campus visits for big neutral site games. They’ve made the show three hours instead of two, which takes out some of the novelty. They focus too much on sob stories each week now. But none of that compares to the issue I have with them this week – they’re not even going to a game!
College GameDay is deciding to spend the fourth week of the 2017 season, a week with three intra-top 25 matchups, in Times Square. There are not only a whopping ZERO games happening in New York City, but there are zero FBS programs located in the city as well. Additionally, NYC’s notoriously a non-college football town due to the massive amount of transplants from all over the country that support dozens of different teams.
Sure, I understand the spectacle and attention-seeking appeal of hosting the event in Times Square. GameDay has hosted in all kinds of odd locations over the years, but at lease those ones have at least been sites of upcoming college football games! This decision takes the absolute best part about GameDay – its location at a game on game day – out of the show’s equation. For the first time I can think of, Corso’s headgear prediction will either not happen, or will be utterly meaningless.
ESPN has become a shell of what it was during its prime, becoming less about the thrill of sport and more about hot takes and gobbledygook. This particular move upsets me more than most have though, because it truly feels like the death of what I have long considered the most fun sports show and sporting environment in the world.
I’ve loved College GameDay and the excitement, atmosphere, and nonsense that comes along with it, and I hope that the producers don’t forget what made it so special.