ESPN College GameDay broadcasts from the field prior to the NCAA football game between the Michigan Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. Credit: The Columbus Dispatch

In what marks arguably the most highly anticipated game of the 2023 college football season, No. 3 Michigan will host No. 2 Ohio State with a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game — and likely the College Football Playoff — on the line on Saturday.

Considering what’s at stake between the two unbeaten rivals, and the backdrop of the Wolverines’ sign-stealing scandal, it was hardly a surprise when ESPN’s College GameDay announced that it will be in Ann Arbor on Saturday.

The only problem? With the exception of Michigan legend Desmond Howard, it doesn’t appear the GameDay crew will be receiving a warm welcome this weekend. Taking to social media shortly after GameDay announced this weekend’s destination, many Michigan fans called for a boycott of the on-campus show due to ESPN’s perceived role in the investigation into the Wolverines’ program.

It’s not a surprise that Michigan fans would take issue with ESPN, as it was Pete Thamel who first broke the news of the investigation into the Wolverines’ program, which has since resulted in the Big Ten suspending head coach Jim Harbaugh for the final three games of the regular season (the NCAA’s investigation remains ongoing). While Wolverines fans being upset with Thamel for reporting that has proven accurate thus far might be misguided, some of ESPN’s highest profile personalities — including Stephen A. Smith and Paul Finebaum — have also called for harsh punishments for the Michigan program. For anyone whose followed the sign-stealing scandal closely, it’s been almost impossible not to notice the multiple ESPN personalities who have been willing to go after the Wolverines, compared to the defense Michigan has received from the talking heads at Fox, which is a Big Ten media rights holder.

This isn’t the first time that fans have called for a College GameDay boycott, as Florida State fans did the same in 2014 following the repeated reports regarding star quarterback Jameis Winston. That boycott, ultimately, never came to fruition and it would be a surprise if this one did too, although, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff — which will also be in Ann Arbor this weekend — draw a friendlier crowd.

[Bill Hofheimer on X]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.