In what is an obvious counterpunch to Fox Sports 1, ESPN's award winning college football pregame show College GameDay is expanding. Bristol is shifting the first hour of the show that aired from 9-10 AM ET that was on ESPNU to the mothership this season. This means that GameDay will air from 9-12 ET on ESPN and have an hourlong head start on their new competitor – FS1's Fox College Saturday. And it'll be 4 hours for the season opening edition in Death Valley for #8 Clemson vs #5 Georgia. Via ESPN's announcement:
ESPN’s iconic college football pregame show, College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, is expanding to three hours on ESPN for a 9 a.m. – noon ET block each Saturday during college football season. In addition, GameDay’s season opener on Saturday, Aug. 31, will be an unprecedented four hours (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.) of features, analysis and discussion from the campus of Clemson University. GameDay last visited Death Valley on October 21, 2006, the first and only time Clemson has hosted the show. The No. 8 Tigers will open their season later that night against the fifth-ranked Georgia Bulldogs during Saturday Night Football at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Sam Ponder had hosted the ESPNU hour of GameDay, replacing Erin Andrews after leaving for Fox. Now that the first hour has moved to ESPN, Chris Fowler and the main set of Desmond Howard, Lee Corso, and Kirk Herbstriet will host coverage with Ponder anchoring various segments. As was the case last year, Tom Rinaldi, David Pollack, Gene Wojciechowski, and Scott Van Pelt will also contribute.
It was a bold move for Fox Sports 1 to go charging right at arguably ESPN's most successful and widely respected studio show. You could put College GameDay in a very small group with Inside the NBA and Pardon the Interruption as institutions that are equally beloved by fans and those within the industry. Moving the third hour of Gameday to ESPN is a move directly aimed at Los Angeles and one that should further strengthen ESPN's Saturday morning stronghold in the fall.