VIDEO: Behind the Set of ESPN's College Game Day: Civil War UO and OSU
By Helen Silvis of The Skanner News
December 06, 2010
With a national championship and a bowl visit to play for, the ESPN network delivered even more excitement to Saturday’s football match between Oregon State and the University of Oregon, by broadcasting College Game Day live from the OSU campus in Corvallis: for the first time ever. The Skanner News Video
Hundreds of fans turned out before dawn to show their team spirit, and to watch the celebrity presenters in action. Hosting the popular pre-game show were storied coach and sports analyst Lee Corso; award-winning sports journalist, Chris Fowler; former Ohio State quarterback Kirk Herbstreet; and College Football Hall of Famer, Desmond Howard. Did I mention the show also features Erin Andrews, named ‘America’s Sexiest Sportscaster’ by Playboy magazine in 2007 and 2008? When Ms. Andrews picked up the yellow pompoms and waved them in the air, the Ducks crowd went wild.
Oregon State fans arrived in force early, making sure it would be a more than usually orange dawn. But it wasn’t long before the Ducks fans claimed their half of the field in front of Memorial Student Union. There was plenty of beer flowing on both sides but if the crowd seemed to be drunk on anything it was on high spirits and good-humor.
If you’ve ever wondered how they get those sweeping crowd shots– the answer is cameras that roll along an overhead wire.
Grant High School student Aidan Silvis spoke to College Game Day presenter Desmond Howard, one of just four football players ever to have won the Heisman trophy and also the title of MVP in a Super Bowl. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Howard works with youth through the Boys and Girls Clubs organization. So what advice does he have for aspiring young athletes? “Well I think you have to be resilient,” Howard said. You can’t be deterred by anyone else’s opinions or what they say to you. You’ve got to work hard….Go for your goals; set goals and go for it.” The Skanner News Video: Desmond Howard
As the sun came up, the sky was a kaleidoscope of colors, illuminating the grand dome and pillars of the student union building. Afterward Chris Fowler told reporters he would remember this show.
“We know it’s a rivalry game and we knew a lot of people would turn out to hate on the ducks, but it was pretty amazing for us to walk out there in the dark hours before dawn and see that crowd and all that enthusiasm. We look forward to coming back, you know, I’d like to come back here when the story is more Oregon State…”
When the College Game Day hosts emerged from their trailer, wrapped up in overcoats, gloves and scarves, it was against that backdrop, and the raucous chants of fans, that Lee, Chris, Kirk, Desmond and Erin gave their run down of the day’s games, discussed the strengths of the key players, and predicted the outcomes.
A security team guarded the set and made sure the crowd didn’t break the rules: No signs on poles in the pit area and no offensive signs. Guess Chip Kelly doesn’t mind being called a ‘mad hatter’.
It takes a crew of 75 people five hours to construct and deconstruct the Game Day set. Once packed up, the crew pile into 9 trucks and buses and set off for their next venue. Usually they don’t know exactly where they are going until noon on the Sunday after the show. After the college season ends they cover 33 of the 35 bowl games.
“Perhaps we have a choice between two places so we’ll head south in that vague direction,” said Mike Humes, a spokesperson for the show. “Then once we know exactly where the next set will be, we chart a more precise route. We clock thousands of miles on the road.”
When the team predicted a win for the Ducks, the usual ceremony occurred. That’s right. Somebody put on a giant rubber Lee Corso head and danced with Mr Corso himself wearing the duck mascot head. Later that giant Lee Corso head disappeared. According to Twitter, it was taken by a U of O fan, but has now been returned.
Keri Potts, ESPN senior public relations representative, had invited The Skanner News to observe the show from behind the stage. Potts, who played volleyball for Syracuse University in New York, winning several athletic and academic awards, before joining ESPN, had been up at 2 am, just like the rest of the crew. Not a problem, she said, because she was still running on east coast time. Potts feet may have been freezing, but her warmth made us feel welcome.
In fact, the standout quality of the ESPN team was their generosity with fans. After the show all five of the hosts signed autographs, joked with fans and posed for photographs.