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Desmond Howard, David Pollack Reflect On Evolution Of College GameDay

Two of College GameDay’s analysts explain just how different the show is now from when it started in 1993.

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It was a college football weekend to remember as the 2021 season nears its completion with the playing of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in Arlington, Texas and the Capital One Orange Bowl in Miami. Neither game was particularly close in terms of the final score, as defending national champion Alabama pummeled Cincinnati 27-6 in the Cotton Bowl, while Georgia similarly crushed Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl, making for an intriguing rematch (the two teams met in the 2018 Championship Game) to close out the college football season.

ESPN’s signature program College GameDay was woven throughout Friday’s action, broadcasting live from outside Hard Rock Stadium in Miam. The show, which was also broadcast on the SEC Network, was hosted by Rece Davis, and featured college football analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack breaking down each matchup and making their predictions as to who would win. The show’s production and advertising have markedly changed since its launch in 1987 with Tim Brando, Beano Cook and Lee Corso, the latter of which is still on the air today.

GameDay was maybe a 90-minute show,” said Howard, who has been on the program since he joined ESPN in 2005. “Now, we have a three-hour show. It’s changed dramatically from a sponsorship deal and to the extent to which we cover college football. You have more hours to fill [and] more time to fill.”

David Pollack joined College GameDay in 2011 amid the extension of the show’s air-time with the first hour airing on ESPNU and its addition of Erin Andrews to the panel of analysts. As a three-time All-American defensive end at the University of Georgia, Pollack frequently watched GameDay and has been thrilled to be a part of it as an analyst since he made his debut.

“I watched it over the years since I was in college, and [have] seen it evolve and grow bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Pollack. “The audience and the following [have] grown bigger, [and] to be a part of it has been really cool.”

College GameDay started doing broadcasts live from college campuses in 1993, with a multitude of fans congregating around the set to express their zeal towards their team and to be seen on national television. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic though, protocols to ensure the health and safety of all parties involved have prevented some of the prior congregation and interaction between fans and commentators from taking place.

“Before COVID, we would have fans come up and take pictures after the show was over,” explained Howard. “We had sponsors too, [and] we would have a tent where we would sign autographs. That has pretty much been eliminated because of COVID.”

Pollack added that there is no longer VIP access available backstage, and that anyone going on the set has to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, consistent with restrictions that have been implemented across several U.S. cities, including New York City and San Francisco.

Following a two-year stretch of empty stadiums and/or restricted capacities, along with stringent protocols, a feeling of pandemic fatigue has become prevalent around the world. Undoubtedly, a sign of progress in reaching an ostensible new normal comes in seeing industries like sports media adapt to continue producing stellar content across multiple platforms to be consumed by its audience. For the commentators on College GameDay, bringing viewers coverage from bowl games and championships is something they are genuinely excited to keep doing as the world looks to cease the pandemic and transition into a new lifestyle.

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Fox Officially Unveils NFL Broadcast Teams

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In what has been considered a formality for some time, Fox today officially unveiled Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi as their number one NFL broadcast team Monday. Burkhardt and Olsen were elevated to Fox’s top booth after the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier this year.

There were some reports that Drew Brees could have been a possibility to join the network, but those discussions fell apart.

The network’s other teams include several familiar faces to football fans:

#2 team: Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Pam Oliver
#3 team: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink
#4 team: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake
#5 team: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
#6 team: Chris Myers, Robert Smith, Jen Hale

Olsen’s jump to the number one team with Burkhardt is a formality until the retirement of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner will ascend to Fox’s number one booth upon his retirement, whenever that may be.

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Ryan Clark, Mad Dog Get Into Heated Argument on ‘First Take’

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

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Former Pittsburgh Steeler, and current ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark and recent Radio Hall of Fame inductee Chris “Mad Dog” Russo squared off on Monday’s edition of First Take, with a heated exchange taking place between the two.

After a discussion about Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas meandered into a discussion about whether Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp would be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he never played another game, Clark said about Hall of Fame voters “they must be voting like you (Russo) vote for the Heisman, where you just vote on whoever the hell you want based off the fact that they play quarterback”.

Russo quickly took exception to the perceived slight.

“Ryan, hold on now,” Russo said, in a louder manner than normal. “You said something, now I’m going to comment. I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born.”

“Mad Dog, stop screaming at me now, bro. For the last time, you’re gonna stop screaming at me,” Clark interrupted.

“You said something that wasn’t right,” Russo said.

“Lower your voice,” the former Steeler interrupted again.

“I’ve been voting for the Heisman since before you were born,” Mad Dog reiterated, with a lower volume. “30 years.”

“I don’t care about that,” Clark rebutted.

“You’re saying I’m voting for the Heisman and saying I don’t deserve a vote. I’ve been voting for 30 years!”, Russo began to raise his voice again.

“I never said you don’t deserve a vote,” Clark replied before clarifying he disagrees with Russo’s sentiment about the college football award being only awarded to quarterbacks.

It’s not the first time Russo has clashed with First Take contributors. A discussion with J.J. Reddick went viral earlier this year after Reddick told Russo previous NBA players played with “plumbers and firefighters”.

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Todd Frazier Joining ESPN Little League World Series Booth

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

Ricky Keeler

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When people talk about 11-year MLB veteran Todd Frazier, some of the things that are usually mentioned on broadcasts usually is that he is from Toms River, New Jersey and that he played in the Little League World Series in 1998 (won the championship). Now, Frazier will have a bigger connection to the annual event in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

As first reported by Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati EnquirerFrazier will be in the TV booth (remotely) for ESPN for this year’s Little League World Series. He made his broadcast debut on Monday morning during one of the New England region semifinals between Maine and Massachusetts. 

Frazier told Nightengale that he wants to use this event to begin his second career in the broadcasting industry.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, especially for the Little League World Series since I’ve been a part of it. I know it and understand it really well. Kind of kickstart my second career here.” 

It will be a memorable summer for Fraizer at the LLWS because he will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence. 

The Little League World Series begins on Wednesday, August 17 and ends on Sunday, August 28. It will be broadcasted on ESPN and ABC.  

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