A first look at 'ESPN's College GameDay' setting up at UC
UC Head Coach Luke Fickell, Skyline Chili and Jeff Ruby's steaks to be part of ESPN'S College GameDay live telecast from the Clifton campus Saturday morning.
Dozens of workers were busy building the set for the first ever ESPN College GameDay telecast from the University of Cincinnati's "Commons," a green parcel between McMicken Hall and Tangeman University Center.
Crews were wiring lights and monitors under the huge canvas tent where host Rece Davis and analysts Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard and David Pollack will broadcast the Emmy-winning pregame show 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. A second stage with a green turf-like floor was built immediately north of the tent.
It will be a long day for students and football fans who come out to see the national telecast. The Bearcats, ranked No. 2 in the nation, don't play their homecoming game against Tulsa until 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
This is a big deal for local college football fans, who have waited 35 years for ESPN's GameDay to come to town. Cincinnati is the 78th different school – and 94th different city – to host the show in 35 seasons, says Bill Hofheimer, ESPN senior director of communications.
UC Head Coach Luke Fickell – an Ohio State Buckeyes teammate of Herbstreit – will visit the set Saturday morning to talk about the Bearcats' season and the Tulsa game, Hofheimer says.
GameDay also plans a segment with "an exclusive all-access look inside the Bearcats program and their preparations on and off the field in what has proven to be an eventful week. From Coach Luke Fickell handing out doughnuts at dawn to lineman feasting on Skyline Chili, to uniform reveals, video game battles, and plenty of playoff ranking reaction, Cincinnati is hungry to prove they belong," Hofheimer says.
Despite UC's No. 2 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and the USA Today coaches poll, Cincinnati (8-0) was slotted at No. 6 in the first College Football Playoff (CFP) ranking for this year released Tuesday. Three teams with one defeat (Alabama, Oregon and Oregon) were ranked ahead of UC. However, CFP officials noted that Cincinnati was the highest-ranked team ever that was not from one of the nation's top five conferences.
Only the top four teams make the national championship playoffs.
More details about the three-hour show – including the celebrity analyst - will be announced Friday. (Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment announced Thursday that it will be providing the cast ribeye steaks, lobster, stone crab claws, shrimp and a UC Bearcat logo cake.)
From the layout evident Thursday, Tangeman Center will serve as the backdrop for most of ESPN's College GameDay shots. Students and fans with signs, banners and flags will fill The Commons behind the GameDay set.
Saturday's broadcast is a homecoming for Pollack, the Bengals first-round NFL draft pick (17th overall) in 2005. He played only 16 games as linebacker for the Bengals in 2005-06 before a career-ending injury in the second game of the '06 season. He joined ESPN in 2009.
Herbstreit grew up in Centerville, south of Dayton, and played quarterback for Centerville High School before enrolling in OSU in 1989.
UC is 4-0 in the American Athletic Conference. Tulsa is 2-2 in the league, and 3-5 overall. The games airs on ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m.