When you think of ESPN’s College GameDay, you surely imagine the show’s set placed in front of a big, open area where masses of monochromatically dressed college kids have assembled to mill around and jump up and down.
But on Sept. 23, GameDay will come to you from the single most congested (and perhaps least collegiate) place in America: Times Square.
The show will have no official host, but will instead seek to draw Manhattan-dwelling fans of all college football teams.
Start spreading the news …
For the first time ever, we're headed to New York City next week! pic.twitter.com/VVhGw9vjwZ
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) September 14, 2017
The replies on the announcement tweet suggest that fans are not thrilled about GameDay’s first ever trip to New York City.
ESPN finally fucking up the last good thing they have
— TwoNiner (@Twoniner) September 14, 2017
Yeah, because nothing captures the spirit of college football like NYC….
— Justin Reardon (@JustinReardon1) September 14, 2017
Take the one great show that captures the passion of college football and put it in the least passionate college football spot on the planet
— Ben Milstead (@benmilstead) September 14, 2017
— CFBtakes (@CFBtakes) September 14, 2017
— Bacon House (@Bacon_House) September 14, 2017
Here’s how ESPN vice president of production Lee Fitting explained the decision to bring GameDay to the Big Apple:
“New York City is a melting pot of college football fans and the heartbeat of America,” Fitting said in a press release. “Thousands of alumni gather in the city each fall Saturday to root on their school and we are bringing College GameDay to New York for them! We want every alumni base and college football fan near and far to join us in Times Square to provide the celebratory, festive atmosphere that is synonymous with the show.”
And here’s longtime GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit:
“This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, for us and the fans,” Herstreit said. “With iconic Times Square as the backdrop and alumni bases from all over the country making their presence known in the crowd, my expectation is that it will be one of the top College GameDay settings of all time. We can’t wait to bring the show to the Big Apple!”
No matter how much ESPN hypes GameDay in Manhattan, many fans are going to have a hard time accepting it. The point of the show is to celebrate college football, and few places in America embody the spirit of college football less than New York City, home of zero FBS teams and a culture of prioritizing professional over college sports. Though there isn’t a no-brainer destination for GameDay on the 23rd, Stillwater (for Oklahoma State-TCU), Palo Alto (for Stanford-UCLA), or Athens (for Georgia-Misssissippi State) would all have been solid choices that wouldn’t have risked upsetting so many fans.
Of course, GameDay will still draw a sizable crowd to Times Square and a massive audience on ESPN, then head the following week to a traditional college town—Blacksburg, Pullman, and Knoxville look like candidates—while New York City goes on not caring about college football.