College football can't get here quickly enough. (Photo: ESPN)
ESPN's College Gameday has announced its first campus destination for the 2013 season: Clemson, S.C. for Georgia-Clemson, Aug. 31. The traditional pregame destination for college football fans will have some new competition from Fox this season, but ESPN has expanded their show to keep up.
This year, Gameday will expand to three hours a week – 9 a.m. ET to noon E.T. – with a four hour show (9 a.m. – 1 p.m.) to open the season on Aug. 31. This move to a permanent three hours will give Gameday an hourlong headstart on its Erin Andrews-hosted Fox Sports 1 competitor. The 9-10 a.m. hour previously aired on ESPNU, but is moving to the main Mothership, with the full crew of Chris Fowler, his full team of analysts and reporters. Sam Ponder, who replaced Andrews as host of the ESPNU hour, will return to a reporting role on the expanded Gameday and will anchor certain segments for the show.
Lee Fitting, ESPN senior coordinating producer, said in an ESPN press release, “Anytime there is an increased appetite for college football, that’s a good thing for us. Fans tell us they can’t get enough GameDay, well, four hours in Week 1 should help them out. And now, with all three hours on ESPN for the remainder of the season, they never need to touch the remote.”
Fowler will be joined by the now-traditional lineup of Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack as analysts, with Ponder, Gene Wojciechowski, Scott Van Pelt and Tom Rinaldi as reporters. It wouldn't be Gameday without Rinaldi making us cry every weekend.
Gameday continues to be one of the best examples of sports talent chemistry on TV today. The nucleus of Fowler, Corso and Herbstreit hasn't been disrupted with the great additions of Pollack, Howard, Ponder and Van Pelt.
This scheduling move is a clear shot at Fox Sports 1, and an effort to get the Pacific Time audience with their final hour – especially their game picks and Lee Corso's head-gear moment. College Gameday is a flagship for ESPN's Saturday programming, and it will take a major effort from Fox to beat it.