ESPN College GameDay returns to Eugene
If junior strong side linebacker Jerome Boyd weren’t so busy this Saturday, he knows exactly how he’d begin his day.
“Early in the morning you turn on the television and watch GameDay,” said a smiling Boyd. “That is what Saturdays are about.”
For just the second time ever and for the first time in six years, ESPN College GameDay returns to broadcast a live pre-game show somewhere near Autzen Stadium, just hours before No. 11 Oregon plays No. 6 California at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
Senior running back Andiel Brown is happy that Ducks fans will be able to hear their team being discussed on television, but he won’t be tuning into Lee Corso’s analysis of Oregon.
“Agh, heck no,” Brown said. “In most cases when announcers talk about us,
they don’t know what they are talking about. I really base it off what I see myself from our team.”
Brown is, however, eager to prove to GameDay viewers that the Ducks are better than they were last year.
“We have been on national TV before, so the thing is we need to handle ourselves in the right manner,” Brown said. “Because last year when we were on national TV, we didn’t show up like we needed to. This is a good opportunity to show we have new players, new perspective, new insight.
“Everyone is like ‘It’s about time.’ And finally we are performing at a level that is worthy of GameDay. We are looking forward to putting on a good show.”
The show, which will air from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on ESPN, precedes the highly anticipated matchup that will be televised regionally on ABC.
The show, which features host Chris Fowler and analysts Corso and Kirk Herbstreit, has a history of avoiding trips to the West Coast. Since 1993, the crew has only made the journey out west eight times, mostly for USC games.
The Ducks were featured on GameDay in 1998 and again in 2000, both for games against UCLA. The production made its first trip to the Pacific Northwest to air the show prior to Oregon’s 29-10 victory against the Bruins on Sept. 23, 2000, which gave the Los Angeles school its first loss of the year. The win was the Ducks’ 17th straight at home.
Oregon was also spotlighted in 1998 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, where UCLA prevailed 41-38 in overtime.
On Sunday, an Oregon press release confirmed news that Oregon would once again be a focus of the sporting world.
Coach Mike Bellotti said he’s excited for the exposure the University is going to receive.
“It’s not just Oregon football, it’s Oregon athletics, it’s the University of Oregon, it’s the town of Eugene,” Bellotti said. “It’s really sort of a neat deal.”
Brown isn’t concerned that the show’s appearance will distract him or his teammates.
“I don’t think it is affecting the team,” Brown said. “Hopefully if it does anything, it is exciting the team. … Just knowing it is GameDay, you have to bring a little more.”
ESPN spokesperson Mike Humes said the network decides on a weekly basis which games to attend. This week, the Oregon-California matchup was a relatively easy choice – no other contest features two ranked opponents.
“We go to wherever the day’s best games are or where a compelling story line or interesting angle is,” Humes said.
The entire production brings out 70 ESPN employees and six production trucks, most of which are expected to arrive Thursday.
Within a day, a camera crew will set up their equipment and the stage will be pieced together. Producers, operators and technicians will create a bustling scene to make another GameDay come to life.
Right tackle Geoff Schwartz isn’t letting the extra attention distract him.
“It’s great that GameDay is here to give us some national exposure, but the same thing happened last year at Cal and we didn’t perform too well; so we can’t think about anything outside of the game.”
By Friday, the setup – most likely near Autzen Stadium – will be up and running. The specific location, which Oregon athletics spokesperson David Williford said will be announced today, is agreed upon by school officials and the network.
“They look for the best view, and where the most convenient spot is for fans,” Humes said. “The school obviously wants to use it as an opportunity to show great things to offer.”
Humes said there is a possibility that the trio will contribute to live hits from other shows, including SportsCenter.
Come game day, the sportscasters sometimes host a halftime and post-game report. Bellotti isn’t sure if he’ll be making a guest appearance on the show.
“Last time they were here I went over after the game and they were still here,” Bellotti said. “They’re there for a long time, from Thursday through Saturday night I think, so we’ll see.”
And regardless of who wins, the set will be torn down by Sunday.
Junior running back Jonathan Stewart said the show is for fans, but added he’ll go online a day or two later if he wants to see highlights.
“We are just out there to play,” Stewart said. “It’s a business. … But if it’s on YouTube I will probably check it out.”
Brown will watch a replay of the game on Sunday, and he expects to be viewing more than just a few spectacular plays.
“Hopefully I’ll be watching the win,” Brown said.