College Football, SEC

A Weekend with ESPN College GameDay: Alabama vs. LSU

Just the other week, the College Football Playoff Committee released the first official rankings of the season. No shocker that Alabama landed in at #1… but the Tigers came in close behind and landed the #3 spot! Given that the rankings came out just a couple days before the big showdown in Death Valley, there was a lot of hype around the game this past weekend.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t quite live up to the hype that surrounded it and the Tide shut out the Tigers. BUT! I’m not here this week to share my game experience with you (at least not totally)! I’m actually here to share my experience with the College GameDay crew this weekend! I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to join the crew and get an inside look into the show. It meant two early mornings and too many Red Bulls, but it was absolutely worth it!
Oh, and if you’ve ever wanted to see the inside of the iconic College GameDay bus… well, today’s your lucky day!

I joined the crew at 8:00am on Friday to help gear up for the promotions going on that day. Home Depot is the title sponsor for College GameDay and part of the job is making sure all of their signage is visible on TV. After all, that’s what they pay millions and millions of dollars for to ESPN. The Quad at LSU was packed with spectators waiting to get on TV. They filmed College Football Live at 3:00pm that day here (which, ironically, isn’t actually live…)

I made a couple new friends along my journey this weekend too! Meet my new northeastern friend, Todd, and my Houston friend, Martin. You’re going to see them in various pictures ducking out of the way of the TV cameras. Turns out you have to be pretty agile and flexible for this job!

Before the show started filming, Home Depot did a little corn hole tournament in ‘the pit.’
If you’ve ever watched the College GameDay show, the pit is where all those crazy students behind the desk hold up their signs and cheer. Personally, I don’t think I’d want to be caught in this area on game day. I’m too short – I’d get smushed for sure.

David Pollack… also known as my future husband (he just doesn’t know it yet… neither does his wife)… kicked off the College Football Live show that also featured Maria Taylor and Desmond Howard. I stood back and observed and tried to not be that crazy fan at work. It was hard… but here’s a little throwback to my first College GameDay experience where I did get to be that crazy fan…

Funny enough, this was actually at the 2015 Alabama vs. LSU game in Tuscaloosa!

Not pictured was me getting to wear a production headset while watching the filming of the show, thanks to Martin. I truly don’t know how they do it! There’s so much going on behind the scenes in production that regular viewers don’t know about. A lot of that is jokes and laughing in your ear when you’re trying to work… hey, at least the guys have fun!

Those red rocking camper chairs they’re sitting in? I got to sit in one and each lunch by the set. Those are the most comfortable chairs ever! I debated stealing one. Didn’t think I could get away with that though. Especially considering that was before the show’s filming… someone probably would’ve noticed!

Just to the side of the stage we could actually watch the show and how it was coming out on TV. Again, it wasn’t live, but they still produced it like it was so that all they had to do was air it an hour after completion.
It was awesome getting to hear what the cameramen were being instructed to do through the headset actually come to life. Production and broadcasting is one area I actually have no experience in!

Bama fans made their appearance as well. There were a few sprinkled throughout the crowd. The Devin White supporters were also out in full force for the show.

Commercial breaks mean makeup time and catching up on texts to the talent. I was really confused as to why they needed commercial breaks if it wasn’t live. Clearly I’m just not up to speed.

Lolo Jones joined the show for a little chatting. Lolo was a track and field athlete here at LSU that went onto the Olympics. Moreso, she was really famous for her good looks. Beautiful girl! The cast joked that she was the most famous Olympic athlete to not win an Olympic medal.

One of the more entertaining bits of my day was watching David Pollack do the “pants challenge.” Basically all that means is you jump into a pair of pants. The crew watched some successful takes before getting David to try it himself…

David’s first attempt wasn’t as smooth as he wanted and the crowd got a good laugh. Guess second time was the charm! Check out the video here!

Next new thing I learned was something called “blocking,” which is nothing at all like what it sounds like! I sat on stage in the chair with the rest of the crew for a good 20 minutes while all the cameras got their angles and focuses.
Cool part about it? I got to see it on the big screen. People were still in the crowd at this point. Funny part about it? I wore a TCU shirt under my sweater (because it was supposed to be cold and I didn’t think anyone would see it and I was wrong). So the crowd was making comments about how bad TCU is. Joke’s on them though – I’m a Tech grad!
They also kept telling one of the crew guys to smile, and wouldn’t stop yelling jokes until he finally did. Unfortunately I can’t repeat any of those jokes here!

5:30am came quick for me on Saturday… and anyone that knows me knows that I’m not a morning person. First stop? Gas station for 2 Red Bulls and coffee. Key to survival in sports!

These kids sure didn’t have the morning blues though. This was the line to get into the pit when I arrived at work! It opened up at 6:00am and there was definitely no shortage of bodies. There were beer cans everywhere. Clearly they just brought the Friday night party to the College GameDay line! Kids also had tents, chairs, blankets, pillows… basically just camped out. Pretty typical for a College GameDay set from what I’ve been told. I believe it! Students eat this stuff up!

I had to walk through this entry a couple of times. About got my arms ripped off from kids mauling at me. Calm down!

Once the pit opened up, I could stand there and read all the signs (which is personally my favorite part of College GameDay). There were some good ones! A couple I were surprised they didn’t get confiscated. Since ESPN is owned by Disney, they try and keep it family-friendly.

I was functioning enough by the time the sun came up and production started rolling. I had a funny thought though. The show always starts at 9:00am EST, no matter where it’s located. So, that’s 6:00am for our folks out in the Pac-12 when they get a GameDay appearance. That’s still dark when filming starts! And an even earlier report time. I might not have survived that.

Home Depot puts up a hospitality tent for VIPs while the show is airing. The tent provides free food and drinks and viewing of the live show on TV. In addition, the cast of College GameDay comes to sign autographs and mingle with the guests after the show. It’s mainly Home Depot VIPs but I think there were some ESPN guys sprinkled in there. Sponsorship is a funny thing.

I was honored to be able to spend some time with Marcus Luttrell, THE Lone Survivor and a true American hero. I was able to thank him for his service and dedication to our country, and truthfully that might’ve been the highlight of my day. This man is a true hero. And not only that, but he is a GREAT person. Just the nicest guy. I’ve seen the movie multiple times and I just cannot begin to put myself into his shoes. I have the utmost respect for this man and it was my honor to be able to assist him and his guests have a great time during the show! Not much can top that.
And apparently, Marucs is a twin! I didn’t know this. His twin is Morgan (white shirt with beard), and he calls himself the “family’s best-kept secret.” He’s a smart cookie too. Works in engineering. Just overall two wonderful people.

Coach O joined the show for a little bit to talk about Bama game day and his wife, which was by far the cutest thing ever! I’ve had the pleasure of working with the two of them and they are as funny in person as they are on TV. Coach O is a little easier to understand in normal conversation, too! Great guy. Great for LSU.

You really just have to love the creativity and wit people have! Every week I think I’ve seen it all when I watch the College GameDay show… and every week I’m proven wrong.

Another highlight of my day? Seeing the Wazzou flag still going strong!
Here’s some background on this story: Washington State has been begging College GameDay to come to Pullman, Washington for a game since the start of the show. They’ve never made an appearance. So Wazzou alumni started showing up at every College GameDay show with a flag. I’ve seen a Wazzou flag on the show as long as I can remember. Well, two weeks ago they finally got College GameDay to come to their town for the game against Oregon! The crew said that the experience in Pullman was unreal and by far their favorite experience so far on the show.
Great to see Wazzou hasn’t broken the tradition!

A local Baton Rouge restaurant prepared a Cajun feast for the crew! Which they didn’t even get to eat… I, for one, would not have let anyone take that food away from me!

This week’s College GameDay guest picker was none other than LSU baseball legend Alex Bregman, who went on to play for the Astros right out of college and took home a World Series ring last year. Maria Taylor threw him a couple of balls to bat into the crowd just to make sure he’s staying sharp.
And as I mentioned before, there’s Todd ducking out of the way. Good work, Todd!

Next up was the guest picking. Unfortunately Bregman picked OU over Texas Tech, so I don’t know if I can be a fan of his anymore…

And there it was… the elephant head… before Lee Corso even made his pick. We were hoping that he had both heads under there to throw us off…

… but nope. Just the one. Corso picked Bama. But not after telling the crowd and the viewers that if anyone could take down Bama, it was LSU. Oh Lee, how he loves to pull at your heartstrings. And there’s Kirk Herbstreit dying laughing at Corso for playing with us like that. His face says it all – “only Corso would do that!”

You can tell Bregman wasn’t feeling the choice…

But in the end, Lee and I kept up our Bama/LSU College GameDay tradition and took a quick selfie. See #1 from 2015 and #2 from this weekend!

It was a beautiful night for football on Saturday! It was our first home game in, like, a month that it didn’t rain at. It rained for Georgia, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. But not this week! It was 70 degrees at kickoff and just perfect fall football weather!

This week was unique for me. It got a little crowded on the field for pre-game warm ups so I actually headed up to the press box for the first time. I had never been in LSU’s press box before. It was really nice! And set up perfectly for the media frenzy.

Truth be told, I parked myself right here for the entire second half. The Texas Tech/OU game was on and I got to eat and watch it!

Media really does have the best seat in the house. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great being up close and personal or on the field, but these seats are just hard to beat.

I did at least head back down to the field for the pre-game show.

And to spend some time with my girls! All of my softball players attended the game and it’s always great seeing them!

Like I previously mentioned, we all pretty much know how the game turned out. Surprisingly the crowd really didn’t pull out of the game. LSU kept trying to come back, but it just didn’t happen. I was hoping it would be a much better game, but no such luck…

The Tech game, on the other hand, was much more intense. I parked myself in front of a TV in the press box for a solid 2 hours.
Truthfully, Tech had lots of opportunities to win that game. I don’t want to talk about it.

Here it is – the legendary orange College GameDay bus! If you’ve ever wandered what the inside looks like, today’s your lucky day!

It’s a pretty normal tour bus in the front. They keep it stashed with plenty of snacks. We definitely did some damage on the Cheez-Its.

The back of the bus is nothing but TVs! The cast takes breaks between their shots and comes in here to check out the shows. When I worked at Bama in 2015 I got to chat with Sam Ponder on the bus. She’s the absolute sweetest! This time I got to meet Maria Taylor… who is not only an absolute giant compared to me, but just an absolute giant in general. She is TALL! But she was so nice too. It’s rare to meet people in the sports industry that aren’t friendly from what I’ve witnessed so far during my career. Well, minus Nick Saban and Urban Meyer’s staffs.

AJ Andrews helped me take some pictures on Friday, and looks like she got a little distracted. Joke’s on you, AJ!

There were actually 3 Wazzou flags on the show on Saturday. They really commit

This weekend I’m taking a sports hiatus to join my Dallas crew for a friend’s birthday! I may or may not catch the Mavs game Saturday night, but that’s TBD. Until then, thanks from me and Mike the Tiger for checking in!



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