TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Thousands of football fans will converge Saturday in the general vicinity of Bryant-Denny Stadium, site of No. 1 LSU’s SEC showdown with No. 2 Alabama.
There are plenty of celebrities expected to be in attendance for the evening kickoff, including NBA stars Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Paul, LeBron James, actress Sela Ward, rapper Lil’ Wayne and others.
But perhaps no star will elicit the reaction from locals that San Francisco Giants star pitcher — and former LSU standout athlete — Brian Wilson will early Saturday morning. (Wilson’s final game in an LSU uniform came in a loss at ‘Bama.)
He’ll be the celebrity guest picker for ESPN’s College GameDay (9 a.m. ET ESPNU, 10 a.m. ESPN).
Wilson, star of the “This Is SportsCenter” commercial above, might want to consider shaving his famous beard in order to enter the University of Alabama Quad somewhat incognito.
But Wilson, who has touted LSU’s prospects to beat Alabama soundly via his Twitter account @BrianWilson38, doesn’t shy away from confrontation.
And his presence as College GameDay‘s guest picker is perhaps historic, given the circumstances.
“This may be the first time we’ve had the guest picker that represents the visiting team,” said GameDay coordinating producer Lee Fitting, who has spent 16 years with the production.
“When we were in Nashville and we had [singer] Kenny Chesney picking that day, and he’s a Tennessee fan, but [host] Vanderbilt was playing Auburn that day, so that really doesn’t count.”
No doubt Wilson’s on-stage appearance — and inevitable selection of the Tigers to win — will stir a raucous reaction from the Crimson Tide faithful surrounding the set.
That was not the intention, Fitting said.
“We don’t make a conscious effort to get somebody associated with the home team,” he said. “Our goal is to get the biggest name, and who’s going to be the best on television. Whether it’s home team, visiting team, it doesn’t matter.”
Wilson’s camp asked to appear on GameDay and the show’s producers more than welcomed his appearance.
“His folks reached out to me probably about a month ago, and probably every day since then, to make sure that he was going to be on the show,” Fitting said.
Wilson is “a walking soundbite. I’m sure he’s going to pick LSU, which will get the Bama crowd turned upside down.”
Stanford alum Tiger Woods remains on Fitting’s wish list as a celebrity guest picker, he’s also intrigued about the possibility of landing another famous sports fan: President Obama.
“Huge sports guy, it would be unbelievable,” said Fitting.