Behind The Scenes

College GameDay’s winning formula

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The three-day production schedule for ESPN’s College GameDay seems, to an outsider, overwhelming.

From the 6:30 a.m. Central Time crew call Thursday to the anticipated segments to be taped after the LSU-Alabama clash ends late Saturday night, it’s an impressive undertaking.

That agenda doesn’t include the time the team mounted the GameDay set on the Alabama quad on Wednesday and when it packs up and ships out to the next destination early Sunday morning.

That’s just a typical week for this ESPN staple, in its 25th year on the air but with plenty of veterans whose enthusiasm for what they do never seems to wane.

How do they do it?

“Externally, and maybe even internally, GameDay resonates. People really like the show,” said GameDay reporter Tom Rinaldi, in his eighth season with the production.

“When you combine passion, and chemistry, with a great work ethic, I think that’s what has allowed us to have a unique show for all of these years,” said Kirk Herbstreit, the GameDay analyst who is marking his 16th year on the show.

In the Friday morning production meeting, coordinating producer Lee Fitting said that he was as inspired by the prospect of covering LSU-Alabama as any game he’s overseen in 16 years with GameDay.

He challenged his crew of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Lee Corso to make the most of segments featuring colleague Urban Meyer. The former Florida coach will have special insights into this SEC showdown that is expected to be a milestone on the road to the BCS Championship Game in January.

The GameDay crew feeds off the electricity of the crowds, particularly ones in this part of the country.

“If you come to an SEC, big-time game on a weekly basis, the atmospheres are 10 times what you’d see in the NFL, and we get that every single week in college football, from the very first game in late August until the BCS Championship Game,” Herbstreit said.

“The passion of the fans is what makes it special.”

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