ICYMI: The week on Front Row; PLUS Tom Rinaldi’s love of poetry

Recently, ESPN launched a new 30-second spot for College GameDay Built by The Home Depot. “Storytime,” airing on ESPN networks (and above), describes the iconic pregame show through the legendary and poetic storytelling abilities of host Tom Rinaldi.

The College GameDay campaign, with the tagline “Get Up. It’s GameDay,” captures the emotion of college football fandom and the unpredictability that makes fans get up and tune in every Saturday for the show, currently in its 27th season. The campaign was created in collaboration with creative agency 72 and Sunny. Today, GameDay will make its eighth appearance, and first since 2011, on the campus of the University of Alabama (9 a.m. ET, ESPN). The three-hour show will originate from Champions Way in front of Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Front Row spoke with Rinaldi about the spot.

How did the promo come together?
The ad team at 72 and Sunny sent the copy to [Senior Coordinating Producer, College Sports Studio Shows] Lee Fitting and he in turn passed it to me and asked if I’d voice it. I read it through and thought it was very funny. During prep, the agency folks asked me to read it four or five different ways, with different pacing and different tone. The truth is, they probably almost all sounded the same.

Who wrote the copy and who came up with the nicknames?
The agency wrote the copy. And I would not have changed the copy at all. I thought it was nicely written and I am always happy to be the punch line because I am whether I want to be or not on the show. The agency did a great job of marrying the copy to the video.

Regarding nicknames, what’s yours?
I hear “Tommy Two-Putt.” And Scott Van Pelt calls me “The Senator.” Kirk [Herbstreit] calls me “Timmy” – I did a long emotional feature – after several years on the show, mind you – and Lee Corso turns and tells me “Great feature, Timmy.” And Kirk has called me that ever since.

Given the promo, can you give any insights on how much poetry you compose?
I’ve written poetry since high school. I’ve been writing in different forms for much of my life. I am in awe of true poets who have a real gift. A couple of my favorite poems are “Funeral Blues” by W.H. Auden and “Gerontion” by T.S. Elliott.

Your penchant for dramatic storytelling is well-known by now. What do you think of that?
I am fine being a punch line. During the National Football Foundation dinner a few years ago, Rece Davis (the emcee for the event) told the entire audience that later on I’d be giving a dramatic reading of the Manhattan yellow pages in one of the after-party suites.

By Ana Livia Coelho

ICYMI: Highlights from the past week on Front Row

E:60’s season finale reported on children’s professional Muay Thai fighting in Thailand. Watch a behind the scenes clip with reporter Jeremy Schaap and producer Beein Gim.

• Follow a typical week for ESPN’s Newsgathering Unit with the help of a Front Row infROWgraphic.

Skip Bayless shared how Robert Smith’s emotional First Take appearance came to be.

• espnW contributor Sarah Spain is bringing NFL fans the biggest and best tailgates and traditions across the country in the new digital series, “No Spain, No Game.”

Row of Four
Our favorites from across ESPN over the past week

• By David Newton: Ron Rivera’s military bond is still strong

• By Jeff Legwold: Broncos’ Ben Garland proud to serve

• From Chris Connelly: Armed Forces – Small Town USA

• Enjoy an array of photos from the ESPN Images’ Images of the Week

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