EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – ESPN has finished the build out and setup for its College GameDay broadcast on the UO campus and the on-air crew who will put on the show Saturday has arrived in Eugene.
Most of the College GameDay crew spent Friday, November 16 recording segments for the show at the stage in the Memorial Quad and elsewhere on the university grounds.
This is the seventh time ESPN’s College GameDay has been in Eugene and the fourth year in a row that the show has returned. No matter the number of times the crew has been here, most are still pretty impressed by the crowd, saying they’re what makes coming back to Eugene “worth it.”
"It's what we really like about coming here, really, because it's no fun getting up at 4'o-clock in the morning, doing live TV at 6 AM. But when [we] have the energy of that crowd behind us and everything that they bring, it helps us bring our energy up and it's just a wonderful scene. I think it's a great scene for television too,” says Desmond Howard, a host for ESPN College GameDay.
In speaking with the media, Howard gave a few other insights. He says Oregon’s crowd is “no question” louder than USC’s crowd. Second, Howard says he doesn’t think Marcus Mariota or Kenjon Barner have a great shot at the Heisman Trophy because the attention is split between both players. Also, Howard says he doesn’t think Ducks head coach Chip Kelly’s offense would work in the NFL because of the amount of exposure that the quarterback gets to the defense.
Howard and co-hosts Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Chris Fowler took to the GameDay set on Friday to pre-record some segments that will air on ESPN and its networks on Friday and Saturday.
After filming the segments on stage, Herbstreit stuck around, taking pictures with several fans, even saying hi to one fan’s family member over the phone.
Other segments filmed around campus include one inside the lobby of the university’s Johnson Hall. Lee Corso and Desmond Howard set up there, playing a smartphone game called 'Corso’s Cornhole Challenge' where players toss beanbags into a cartoon-like picture of Lee Corso’s head.
Reporter Samantha Steele also spoke to media members today. The 26-year-old reporter is one of the newest GameDay crew members. While it will be her first GameDay in Eugene, Steele was in Eugene last week to do a feature story on Duck’s head coach Chip Kelly and a recent trip he took to Africa.
Steele says the story shows a “very different” side of Chip than the usual snarky attitude most know him for when answering most football-related questions with the media.
Steele says she’s looking forward to a big Oregon crowd.
"I've never covered a game here. But I've heard stories for years now about Autzen Stadium and what this environment is like, so I am excited about that . . . but to be honest, I am more excited about this little guy here,” said Steele, referring to 5-year-old Braden Papé.
If you remember the last GameDay episode from 2011, Braden sang the “College GameDay” theme song on national TV
. He’ll be back in another segment on Saturday. Chip Kelly is also expected to be involved, as he was seen leaving a production crew meeting on Friday.
As for what the on-air crew is doing Friday night, most will be sleeping for a 1 AM wake-up call. The crew says it doesn’t get an opportunity to see too much of the Eugene-Springfield area because of the tight work schedule. However, Steele says she recently ate at Beppe and Giani’s restaurant, on the advice of Oregon’s defensive coordinator Nick Allioti and Chip Kelly.
The broadcast begins at 6 AM on Saturday morning. The first hour of the show airs on ESPN U. The last two hours of the show - from 7 to 9 AM - will air on ESPN.
Fans who want to be in the audience are expected to camp out on Friday night. Crews will open the gates to fans at 4 AM. The broadcast will once again feature the Lillis Business Complex in the background.