For most of college football, Jan. 1 is the end of the season.

(Eight teams will play in bowl games on Jan. 2, and the winners of Friday’s College Football Playoff semifinals will play for the National Championship on Jan. 11. You can view the CFB bowl schedule, along with the broadcast teams for those games here.)

The first day of the New Year is also the last day on ESPN for veteran reporter Tom Rinaldi, who’s moving on to Fox after a 19-year tenure. Friday morning’s College GameDay program was Rinaldi’s final appearance on the network and the crew wasn’t about to let their colleague go without saying a proper goodbye. Host Rece Davis called it “a standing ovation.”

“You’ve been a confidant, the conscience of this show,” Davis said to Rinaldi. “You welcomed me with open arms. And as I told you when you gave us the news that you were moving on to the next great opportunity: Friends first, no matter what. I appreciate your friendship and everything you’ve meant to this show, meant to me personally.”

Rinaldi then thanked the many people on the crew and production staff he worked with during his 17 years on College GameDay, most notably the man he calls “The Godfather,” producer Lee Fitting, now ESPN’s senior vice president of production. Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, and David Pollack followed up with kind words for “the best storyteller in college football.”

Related: In move from ESPN to Fox Sports, Tom Rinaldi wants to find “the next”

Finally, Rinaldi expressed his gratitude to the viewers who have watched and appreciated his work for nearly two decades, most often through the stories he shared. Among the many poignant highlights were Purdue fan Tyler Trent, Pittsburgh running back James Connor, and football fans waving to patients at the University of Iowa children’s hospital.

Many like to joke about Rinaldi always going for the heart with touching stories about people overcoming difficulty in their lives to find success. But he liked to have fun too, as the video package above demonstrates.

Rinaldi wearing the University of Miami’s turnover chain is an image he hopefully has framed in his home. Or at the very least, as the lock image on his phone.

Related: Tom Rinaldi describes a story as “a wave,” reveals his most compelling themes for stories

His excellent work will surely continue at Fox, but will Rinaldi’s reporting resonate with viewers the way it did at ESPN? That remains to be seen. Maybe he’ll do something even better. Kudos to him for wanting to try something different and challenge himself at a later stage of his career. And applause to ESPN for allowing Rinaldi to say and receive the farewell he deserves.

[New York Post]

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.