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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.

Derek Futterman

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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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LIV Golf Nearing TV Deal With The CW Network

“LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.”

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LIV Golf

According to a report from Front Office Sports, LIV Golf has laid out a deal with The CW Network for television carriage in the United States.

The deal is a multi-year agreement that will see the tour own real estate in lesser-viewed time slots on the network. A revenue-sharing relationship between the tour and the television network is expected to be struck.

LIV Golf television analyst David Feherty had hinted that the upstart league could potentially have a deal in place with The CW Network for American television rights.

After a standup comedy show in West Palm Beach last week, Feherty reportedly told the crowd “Have you heard of CW? I might get fired for this, but…,” according to report from Tom D’Angelo of The Palm Beach Post.

Sports Business Journal reporter John Ourand had previously reported a deal between the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour and the network was likely.

Nexstar Media Group — the nation’s largest television owner — is the majority owner of The CW Network. There are around 220 affiliates of the network on over-the-air television stations. Rumors of an acquisition of LIV Golf’s rights come on the heels of The CW Network being linked to the potential launch of a college football bowl game that would air exclusively on the network.

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Stephen A. Smith: ‘I Don’t Feel Obligated To Agree With Black Community’

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Stephen A. Smith is out promoting his new memoir Straight Shooter. He recently sat down for a conversation with Men’s Health magazine.

Interviewer Rachel Epstein covers a wide variety of topics with Smith. Some are about what can be found in the book. Some are about the First Take star’s public perception.

She asked how Smith balances the responsibility of representing the Black community with his brand. On ESPN, Smith is known for being unique and unapologetic for his sometimes over-the-top persona.

“Number one by being fair,” he said. “By trying to gather as much information and educate myself on issues as much as I possibly can.”

He added that he has never felt pressure to think a certain way or say a certain thing. Even if pressure existed, he prides himself on not giving in to it.

“I never feel an obligation to agree with my community. I believe we all have a right to think the way we want to think. But I do feel a responsibility to make sure that the perspective emanating from my community is heard, even if I disagree.”

Stephen A. Smith is one of the highest-paid and most visible employees at ESPN. He said that a certain responsibility comes along with that status. He wants the Black community to know that even if he doesn’t agree, he will make sure people know what he is hearing when he is on TV talking about an important subject.

“I want the Black community to always know that they have somebody in me that’s going to at least tell the world what we’re feeling and why, whether I agree with it or not.”

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Kathryn Tappen Joining NBC’s Big Ten Coverage

“Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.”

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NBC has tabbed Kathryn Tappen as its sideline reporter for the network’s upcoming coverage of Big Ten football, according to a report from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post.

According to Marchand, Tappen was in line to replace Michele Tafoya as the sideline reporter for Sunday Night Football but was passed over by the network in favor of Melissa Stark.

Tappen has hosted Notre Dame football’s studio coverage and Peacock Sunday Night Football Final. She also worked as NBC’s lead interviewer for its coverage of the PGA Tour, but left that broadcast team at the end of 2022 as part of the network’s larger shakeup of its golf coverage.

The appointment of Kathryn Tappen conceivably concludes the Big Ten on NBC broadcast crew. Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge are expected to pair as the network’s play-by-play announcer and color analyst, respectively. NBC has yet to officially unveil its coverage plans for the 2023 college football season.

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