Today ESPN and College GameDay announced the first and last stops for the college football studio show that has taken on a life of its own in its travels around the country.

GameDay and ESPN had a number of compelling matchups to choose from in the first week of the season – Texas-Notre Dame, Arizona State-Texas A&M, Louisville-Auburn, Youngstown State-Pitt… but unsurprisingly, Bristol has chosen the neutral site showdown between Alabama and Wisconsin from JerryWorld in Fort Worth.  (Or Arlington, or Dallas, or North Texas…)  There was even a fancy Vine to go along with the unveiling!

Let’s be real, when is ESPN not going to choose Alabama over all other contenders?  And in the name of corporate synergy, that matchup just so happens to be the primetime game for ABC in Week 1 of the season.  The ESPN crew will also make a stop in Blacksburg for live pregame coverage between #1 Ohio State and Virginia Tech on opening weekend with Rece Davis, David Pollack, and Desmond Howard on site.  College Football Countdown will air for an hour on ESPN on Monday September 7th at 7 PM ET with the game to follow.

ESPN also went ahead and named the Army-Navy game for their location on December 12th because that’s one of the most historic rivalries in all of sports… and it just so happens to be the only college football game scheduled for that weekend.

It’s a hugely important season for the institution of College GameDay.  Last year saw the program come under a high amount of scrutiny for choosing to focus mostly on SEC matchups amid claims of bias from ESPN over their investment in SEC Network.  That caused host Chris Fowler to lash out at fans on the air.  With the SEC knocked off their perch and Ohio State reigning as defending champions, this season will go a long way in finalizing that debate.  If GameDay stays with the SEC as their main storyline, it will give a lot more credence to those theories.  If GameDay pivots away from the conference and evens out the coverage, it’ll rebuff many critics.

But it’s also important because for the first time since 1990, the show will have a host other than Chris Fowler.  Rece Davis is freed from May-Holtz purgatory and steps into the top college football studio host slot alongside Desmond Howard, Lee Corso, and Kirk Herbstriet.  It’s a just reward for Davis’ excellent work over a number of years and you can bet there will be many fans watching and people behind the scenes happy for him when the lights go on for the season opener.  Wherever the show goes this year, let’s just hope this year’s GameDay experience will give us something as memorable as Corso being smitten with Katy Perry.

About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.

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