If you care enough about college football to be perusing the Internet for sports blogs, chances are you have heard of ESPN’s College Gameday. You probably start off most fall mornings like I do by flipping on the TV to ESPN while Gameday plays in the background. It’s a nice backdrop while doing chores around the house, so your significant other isn’t too upset when you spend the rest of the day yelling at the TV for big hits, touchdowns, bad play calls, and even worse officiating (don’t even get me started on officiating).
Bottom line, you know the show, and you probably have a favorite host, and one you also can’t stand. I am quite the fan of Maria Taylor, she talked to me once…on purpose and it was awesome. I also love Lee Corso who spent some of his more formative coaching years at the Naval Academy. He’s the ornery grandpa you love, despite the crazy stuff that comes out of his mouth. My favorite part of the show is when Corso picks the winner of the game of the week, because the man does it with an incredible amount of flair. He builds up his analysis of the game, adding in a little bit of controversy, before he pulls out the head of the mascot for his team of choice and the crowd goes wild! The kind of reception his pick receives is usually determined by whether or not he picked the home team, but it’s always fun to watch; and you can see his co-hosts love this tradition of ending the weekly show. While I wouldn’t go so far as to say I “can’t stand” one of the hosts in particular, the fact that Kirk Herbstreit played for Ohio State certainly isn’t winning him any brownie points with me either. I’m sure that keeps him up at night.
The good news is if you plan on attending Army Navy this year, or even if you’re just nearby in Philadelphia, you can get this experience in person. Gameday is open to the public while it is being broadcast. ESPN will likely have the best seats roped off for Midshipmen and Cadets as it’s a huge part of what they are selling this week. They aren’t looking for crusty old grads like you and me up in the front row. But if you have your old uniforms ready to go, and you can **kind of** pass for your 20’s, you might be able to squeeze in up front, snag a big orange Home Depot helmet, and make funny Pizza Hut signs teasing your sister Service Academy.
There are many reasons I love the fact that Army Navy takes place AFTER championship Saturday. Call me old fashioned, but I 100% believe this game embodies the heart and soul of why we love college football. It deserves the level of hype it receives, even if part of the hype is because it’s the only FBS game on that day. It’s because of that fact it gets the attention of ESPN College Gameday, even though the game is broadcast on CBS, and that is not an insignificant detail.
College Gameday has been at Army Navy every year since 2014. I have had the opportunity to meet some of the folks behind the scenes for the last few years and there are a surprising number of veterans on staff who truly love what they do every week; they especially love coming to Army Navy every year. It is worth taking the time to take in their hard work.
This year ESPN’s College Gameday will be located adjacent to the NBC Sports Arena, right smack dab in the middle of the Philadelphia Sports Complex. It’s really a great sight with Lincoln Financial Stadium directly in the background. The show starts promptly at 0900 on Saturday morning, and if you are planning on showing up early to tailgate in the balmy 30 degree weather, it’s totally worth showing up a little earlier to wander over to the set and hang out for a bit. If for no other reason than to hear the smack talk between the light versions of the Brigade and Corps; it gets a bit racy at times, but it usually does when family talks smack to each other.
I know Army is a touchdown favorite to win on Saturday, but I also know Sunshine Scooter is pulling out that Bill the Goat mascot head, and I am going nuts when he does! See you Saturday morning!