Behind The Scenes

ESPN Radio’s College GameDay provides marathon coverage

When ESPN’s College GameDay’s television show concludes its morning presentation from Palo Alto, Calif. today, ESPN Radio College GameDay begins.

The show is heard on about 350 ESPN Radio affiliate stations, satellite radio, ESPN and the ESPN Radio app.

Hosts Ryen Russillo, Trevor Matich, and Brad Edwards will provide 7-1/2 hours of updates and analysis of everything happening in college football. Like their television brethren, today the trio will help set the table for the Oregon at Stanford Pac-12 showdown (ABC, 8 p.m. ET).

ESPN Radio College GameDay, which began on air in 1998 but has been touring since 2000, visits the same college campuses the television program does. It kicks off after a simulcast of the television show on the radio station ends around noon Eastern Time.

On Nov. 5 when Front Row visited the radio crew’s setup on the University of Alabama campus, the stage was in the middle of row of elaborate tailgate tents for that night’s game against LSU.

There were no chanting mobs of students, marching bands or madcap mascots that are present for the television show.

Still, “there will probably be 100,000 people outside [of Bryant-Denny Stadium] who have no intention of going into the game,” said Russillo.

Many of those passerby will gather in front of the radio crew’s stage to add atmosphere to the live broadcast –and watch college football on some of the television monitors setup nearby.

“Every now and then, somebody will yell stuff, but it’s not that bad,” Russillo said.

But the job of navigating through all of the relevant college football news — on and off the field — for nearly eight hours is no easy task.

Co-host Matich, the former BYU and NFL lineman who also works Sundays as an analyst for Washington Redskins games and weekdays at ESPN’s Bristol, Conn. headquarters, appreciates Russillo’s presence as “anchor” of the show.

“This guy stays up crazy hours prepping. This show is easy for Brad and myself, because all we do is take [Russillo’s] tee up and run with it,” Matich said.

“There’s so much traffic getting in and out of interviews, in and out of breaks, in and out of game scores, in and out of analysis. This guy is like a juggler, juggling a ping-pong ball, a chainsaw and a razor blade and I don’t know how he does it.”

Like Matich and Edwards — the BCS breakdown guru who doubles as an analyst for the televised College GameDay — Russillo has a crazy work schedule during the college football season.

Russillo often is a cohost of ESPNRadio’s Scott Van Pelt Show weekdays in the Bristol studios.

“Scott and I talk a lot about college football during the week, so a lot the preparation for [ESPNRadio GameDay] is taken care of in the day-to-day [work],” Russillo said.

Being able to see the weekend’s biggest game from the sidelines more than makes up for the hectic schedule, Russillo said.

The television and radio GameDay crews compare notes often.

“We’ll check in with them on Mondays, I’m in there meeting every week at 9 a.m. in Bristol,” producer Steve Coughlin said.

“We’ll bunker down for a good 2 1/2 hours, just brainstorming ideas, content, what we did in the past to try to improve on.”

Said Russillo: “Obviously, [television’s GameDay] is doing a terrific job with what they’re doing from a content standpoint. But we come up with plenty of stuff on our own because we have the window of seven hours to get plenty in there.”

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