If there is college football this fall, there will be College GameDay. ESPN is still working on plans for the popular show, but says it will happen.
“If there is college football there will be College GameDay. Period,” ESPN senior vice president Lee Fitting told the Associated Press. That doesn’t mean the show will feature the same campus setting as it usually does.
A good episode of GameDay features hundreds if not thousands of students and fans packed on campus, around the stage featuring Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and company. Obviously, with social distancing guidelines, that is not feasible. “Will there be thousands of fans behind our set screaming like we’ve known it the last however many years? Absolutely not,” Fitting said.
The network is weighing a number of options. It sounds like the show would like to travel to campuses, ideally. That could mean a show from inside the stadium or on the field ahead of a game. Fitting wouldn’t rule out doing something on campus, but obviously it would have to avoid the large scale gatherings that so often set the stage for the raucous pregame show.
Headgear picks from home? Rece and the gang in Bristol?
ESPN considers how to make “College GameDay” work during a pandemic.https://t.co/WCmQCMchx2
— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) July 16, 2020
Fitting also wouldn’t rule out doing College GameDay from a studio in Bristol. It sounds like ESPN wants to avoid this, but if it is the safest option, it will remain on the table.
The health of Lee Corso, the beloved 84-year old former coach who has served as the show’s star since the beginning, is also paramount. Fitting says he will be involved, and hopefully on set, though once again, health and safety is the top concern.
“We’re not going to be put him, obviously, in harm’s way. Nor does he want that. And if that means we get to the point where there’s a camera at his house, that’s what we do,” Fitting said.
He also added: “Our goal is to have all our people in one spot.”
Another interesting wrinkle is that of Kirk Herbstreit’s potentially expanding role with the network. He and broadcast partner Chris Fowler have reportedly been in consideration to call Monday Night Football, as ESPN struggles to find a premier team for its NFL broadcast, even if a college season is played. Fitting indicated that he doesn’t see Herbstreit’s role on ESPN/ABC’s top college football broadcast team, or College GameDay, changing, even with those plans lingering out there.
College football Saturdays won’t feel right if College GameDay isn’t on to kick things off. It sounds like the show will go on as planned, but ESPN will take the necessary precautions to do it without risking anyone’s health.
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