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Entries in GameDay (2)


College GameDay Kicks Off In 1,294 Hours

ESPN College GameDay Host Chris Fowler Has The Best Job In Television

ESPN Moves To Extend Popular
CFB Show To Three Hours

One Great Season

ESPN made a great decision and announced Monday that the best program on its family of channels will expand from two to three hours.

Beginning Saturday, Sept. 4, "College Gameday" will kick off at 9 a.m. ET on ESPNU, before the popular show moves over to ESPN at 10 a.m. ET. It's assumed, but not confirmed, that the familiar Big & Rich video will open the 9 a.m. hour, but I doubt there'd be any complaints if ESPN played the anthem at the top of each hour. This video gets many college football fans out of bed on Saturday mornings in the fall, and is really the only time you'd ever want a country act to announce it's coming to your city.

ESPN College GameDay Personality Kirk Herbstreit Is The Best Analyst In The Business In another smart Disney move, popular sideline reporter Erin Andrews will join the GameDay crew on Saturday mornings. Here's to hoping she might down a few cheeseburgers between now and then; her turn on "Dancing With The Stars" appeared to have turned her into an aspiring Hollywood anorexic.

For those scoring at home, host Chris Fowler has the best job in television, analyst Kirk Herbstreit is the best at his job, Desmond Howard has become a pretty likable on-air personality and everybody loves Andrews. Surprised it's taken this long to adopt the three-hour format.


The Kirk Herbstreit Interview That Never Happened

Kirk Herbstreit

One Great Season

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- ESPN College GameDay analyst Desmond Howard won a Heisman Trophy two decades ago, but it was his more popular colleague who gave me the stiff-arm in Fort Worth the other day.

I'd been trying to get an interview with any of the GameDay people since the second week of the season, when the crews from both ESPN and One Great Season were in Columbus for the USC-Ohio State game.

And by ESPN crew, I mean about 100 or so people, and by One Great Season crew, I mean all three of us -- me, myself and I.

Anyway, back in September, the ESPN PR guy was nice enough to return my emails asking for a few minutes alone with Kirk Herbstreit and/or Desmond Howard and/or Chris Fowler. But logistics and schedules just made it difficult and an interview never happened.

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The same guy did not return my emails when I reached out during Week Five in Baton Rouge, or in Week Nine in Eugene.

So I went a different route last week a few days before fourth-ranked TCU welcomed the GameDay circus to Fort Worth. Instead of trying that PR guy, I reached out to one of the producers of the show, which, if you subscribe to my Tweets, you know I think is by far the best two hours on television. Not just because it's all about America's greatest sport, but from technical and production points of view, no show is better.

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It took a minute, but the producer did eventually get back to me and said I'd easily be able to get at the very least a few minutes with Herbie. He also said he looked forward to hearing about my project. As the independent little guy, this was a small victory for me.

I arrived at 12:15 p.m. Friday, exactly the time the producer told me to show up, but he wasn't there. Instead, another friendly producer welcomed me into the ESPN compound and introduced me to Herbie, who at the time was in the make-up chair. As the artist applied the foundation, Herbie asked about my tour and what kinds of things I'd be looking for from him. He seemed genuine and assured me he'd make himself available after a live hit he had coming up shortly on SportsCenter.

Desmond Howard

I came back out to the newsroom where the producers were working, as was Desmond, who, like me, is a Cleveland native. Desmond was up against a deadline, so I didn't bother him, but still a non-introduction in my opinion creates more awkwardness than any 30-second inconvenience that could arise from meeting someone sitting so close to you in a quiet and small space. Nonetheless, Desmond made no acknowledgment that there was a new face about six feet across from him; I kept my nose in a magazine.

A short time later, Fowler and Tom Rinaldi arrived. Fowler -- who has the best job in television -- did the Thursday night game at Rutgers the night before, so that's why he flew in on Friday, and as Rinaldi was arriving he was talking about his recent run in the New York City Marathon. I've always loved Rinaldi's stories, particularly on GameDay. Again, if you read my Tweets, you know I recommend keeping a box of Kleenex nearby whenever Rinaldi turns one of his tales.

I introduced myself to Fowler, and told him my buddies and I had ESPN on speed dial a dozen years ago and we'd call and harass him and other late-night, on-air SportsCenter folks after coming home from the bars. I'd heard from multiple ESPN friends over the years that Fowler can be a bit of a diva, but I'd say he initially gave me a fair shake with my weak attempt to be friendly.

A short minute later, Lee Corso walked in and eventually sat with a producer who took the veteran's typically stat-heavy dictation.

Around that time, the producer I'd communicated with the previous couple of days had arrived and although we exchanged a friendly hello, his interest in my project seemed to have disappeared after he sent me the email the night before. He made no inquiry about it, nor did he try too hard to facilitate a short visit for me with Herbstreit.

I've been in newsrooms for 15 years and I know all the personality types. I've also read a couple of books and countless columns or articles about ESPN and I think I had a handle on where my place was that day trying to get some time with some of the most recognized faces in the sport. My little-engine-that-could Web site sat in the basement on the list of priorities in that makeshift newsroom that day, and I fully accepted that and was content to sit quietly, follow instructions and wait my turn.

Chris Fowler

Once everyone said hello and enjoyed a few minutes of light-hearted college football talk, it was time to get down to business. The volume that didn't seem to bother the others in the room the first hour I was there apparently was too much for Fowler, so he turned off the television and donned some headphones. Again, my nose was in a magazine. Again, just waiting my turn, bothering precisely nobody.

Eventually, Fowler called that producer into an office and the two spoke quietly behind a closed door for about five minutes. The room was directly behind me, so I couldn't see the door open, but I did hear the knob turn and from that exact moment I doubt I could have finished saying, "One Mississippi" before I heard this from the producer:

"Hey John, Herbie's still out there lingering on the set and by the time he gets back here, we're going to be starting our production meeting, so you might have better luck trying to grab him out there."

That's probably not verbatim, but it's pretty accurate. It also might be code for something far less sanitized than anything that was said behind a close door a minute earlier.

I packed my bag and not at all to my surprise, no one was sad to see me leave. I hustled outside to join the rest of the throng, and since I had no credential to be inside that oh-so coveted GameDay gate, I basically looked the part of another adoring ESPN fan.

But I did see Herbie make a move to flee the set, so I put on my stalker hat and followed him back toward the compound, accompanied by a state-trooper lookin' fella. I got Herbie's attention and he said we'd still be able to do it, but he just needed a few minutes. I waited outside for, again, longer than I was expecting, and when he re-emerged from the building with another security guy about 20 minutes later, he shook his head from afar, then walked right past me without so much as a glance as he got closer.

Am I disappointed I didn't get the interview? Yes. But what bothered me way more was that the ESPN people weren't the only ones with work to do last Friday. If someone isn't able or even interested in talking to me, just have the courage to say so and then I can go spend those two-and-a-half-hours more productively. But don't make a 15-year news veteran feel like a stalker for chasing the interview that easily could have happened.