Two seasons ago, ESPN’s college football pregame show, College GameDay, came to Ann Arbor for the Michigan-Ohio State game. I was a senior at Michigan and my parents were in town for the weekend. We stopped by the set on Friday afternoon and saw the host, Chris Fowler, as we were leaving the parking lot.
I rolled down my window and told him I was at the first GameDay.
Fowler smiled. “Really? What were you, seven?”
Yes, actually I was. It was 1993 and I was in South Bend with my family for the game of the year, #1 Florida State vs. #2 Notre Dame. It’s a given now that the ESPN crew travels to the college town hosting one of the better games of the week. But the ’93 FSU-ND game was the first on-site broadcast.
It took place indoors and there wasn’t even close to the number of people there compared to the throngs of fans who stand around the set now. I don’t remember all that much from that weekend, but I remember watching some of the broadcast. Thanks to the Internet and my dad, I can provide more information than I otherwise could have.
Fowler and Lee Corso were both part of the first travelling crew, but instead of current analyst Kirk Herbstreit, Craig James was the third member of the team. They may have made their picks for all the top-25 games, but Corso certainly didn’t dress up as a mascot back then.
The show is now as much a part of college football as bowl games. I watched GameDay this morning; it’s a great way to kick off your fall Saturdays. When I’ve watched the NFL pregame shows, or their halftime shows, or their postgame shows, I am reminded of how good College GameDay is. The college guys have fun, but they aren’t laughing at each other’s “jokes” for 90 percent of the show like the NFL guys seem to do.
It’s cool to say I was at the first on-location GameDay, even if some people I tell, like Fowler, seem to be incredulous at first.