Just weeks from the beginning of the 2014 college football season, ESPN is planning some changes to College GameDay, which were revealed in Richard Deitsch’s weekly media column for Sports Illustrated.
None of the changes are truly major – GameDay as you know it will largely remain unchanged, with the same cast of characters and format you’re all used to. However, there will be some minor tweaks that have the fan, both the fan watching at home and the fan on set, in mind.
There will be a limited amount of commercial breaks during the first hour of the show, with longer conversations between the hosts taking place to appeal to more diehard football fans. I think this is a good thing – rather than just regurgitating facts and spitting out a brief hot take, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, and company can actually elaborate on what they’re thinking about.
A full-time DJ may be added to keep the crowds on set entertained. Wrestling fans from about 15 years ago are probably getting ugly flashbacks to WCW’s DJ Ran right about now. I don’t know why ESPN would feel the need to turn GameDay into more of a party during these morning hours with people jammed into the crowd like sardines.
Chris Fowler’s long-term future is still a question. Fowler will be replacing Brent Musberger on the call of the Saturday night game along with Kirk Herbstreit while also serving as host of GameDay, and he could be running himself thin with his flights from the Saturday night venue back to the GameDay venue and then back to the evening game each week.
As for the celebrity pickers, no one has been announced yet, but ESPN’s dream list includes Tiger Woods, President Obama, and Hugh Hefner. Personally, I think Woods would be the most logical, but his alma mater(Stanford) plays just one game east of the Mississippi this year (at Notre Dame, which is an NBC game). The logistics may not work, considering Woods is based in Florida.
Lee Corso’s future isn’t much of a question. ESPN is satisfied with his performance, despite more and more missteps in recent years as Corso ages. I just hope Corso decides to go out on his own terms instead of sticking around until the bitter end, a shell of himself.
GameDay will also take a page out of Fox Sports 1’s failed pregame show and talk about gambling a little more this year. However, it won’t be blatant and in your face, instead also appealing to the non-gambler as well.
ESPN doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel with GameDay. Compared to some of the changes they’ve made in recent years (adding Desmond Howard to the desk, the additions of Erin Andrews and later, Samantha Steele, expanding to three hours), the changes this year are simply a drop in the bucket. It’s funny though, because their biggest competitor this year isn’t another football show – it’s the Premier League on NBCSN. GameDay and the EPL can coexist, but it will definitely be interesting to see if the Premier League makes more of a dent in GameDay’s ratings after a successful first season and a World Cup that was a smash hit.