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Chris Fowler transitions from GameDay “Commish” to college football play-by-play

For the last 25 years, Chris Fowler has commanded the ever-evolving ship of College GameDay Built by The Home Depot. It was announced Thursday night he will step away from the show he helped build to focus on his play-by-play duties.

Fowler will return for his second year in the ABC Saturday Night Football booth with analyst Kirk Herbstreit and reporter Heather Cox and continue to shine on ESPN’s extensive coverage of the world’s biggest tennis events. He will again call a College Football Playoff National Semifinal and the College Football Playoff National Championship, as well as continue to host the Heisman Trophy presentation.

Moving into the GameDay host role will be veteran Rece Davis, who signed a multi-year agreement to stay at ESPN through 2021.

Fowler said Thursday night: “I am truly proud and gratified to have hosted College GameDay for the past 25 years, from the humble early days in the studio to its present place on the sports TV landscape. Traveling the country with Lee [Corso], Kirk, Desmond [Howard], and the whole GameDay family as we shared Saturday mornings with passionate football fans has been professionally and personally rewarding. . . and unforgettable fun.”

The College GameDay crew weighed in on the news that the man they’ve long called “The Commissioner” is departing the host chair:

Lee Fitting, GameDay Sr. Coordinating Producer

“Chris is the gold standard for sports studio hosts – he’s a first ballot hall-of-famer. His passion, preparation and ability to get the most out of his analysts is unmatched. The biggest compliment I can give him is that in hosting College GameDay he made an incredibly difficult job look so incredibly easy.

The biggest compliment I can give him is that in hosting College GameDay he made an incredibly difficult job look so incredibly easy.
– Lee Fitting

Chris will always be synonymous with College GameDay. Equally, I’ve worked with Rece for over 10 years and there is no doubt that he is one of the best in the business. The show is in the awesome hands of an awesome talent. I can’t wait to work alongside Rece every fall Saturday morning as we write the next chapter in College GameDay’s history.”

Lee Corso, GameDay analyst

“Chris Fowler is simply the best, and in fact, he has been the straw that stirs the drink since he joined GameDay. Chris has helped to make the show what it is today, and has handled it all with grace and dignity. He has such command when we are on air, balances everything so well and does it better than anyone I have worked with in the business. It has been a pleasure to sit by Chris’ side for so long as a colleague but most importantly as a friend. Chris was one of my biggest supporters on my road to recovery when I had my stroke, and continues to be one of my biggest advocates.”

Kirk Herbstreit, GameDay and ABC Saturday Night analyst

“It has been a real honor to work with Chris for the last 19 years on College GameDay. He brought so much more to the show than most people realize – he took ownership of the show and was very instrumental in its incredible growth and success.

While I’ll miss working with Chris on College GameDay, I am equally fired up about moving forward as his broadcast partner on our ABC Saturday Night game.
– Kirk Herbstreit

From the very first week until our last GameDay show working together at this year’s Army/Navy game, I was always so impressed with his preparation and passion for each individual telecast. I learned so much about TV sitting next to him all these years and I’m forever grateful. While I’ll miss working with Chris on College GameDay, I am equally fired up about moving forward as his broadcast partner on our ABC Saturday Night game.”

Desmond Howard, GameDay analyst

“Chris Fowler is a gifted host with brilliant wit and incredible insight. Working next to Chris for the past 10 years has been a fantastic experience. He’s been a friend, as well as a colleague, and I appreciate him for that.”

David Pollack, GameDay and Thursday Night analyst

“However much work you think it takes to host College GameDay, multiply it by 10 and that’s what Chris Fowler put into the show every week. He will be missed and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to have worked with one of the most talented individuals on the planet.”

Samantha Ponder, GameDay contributor and Thursday Night reporter

“In the hosting world, Chris Fowler is the gold standard. His unrelenting work ethic is only overshadowed by the incredible natural talent he possesses. His rare ability to make both viewers at home and his broadcasting partners feel at ease and informed is one of the main reasons College GameDay is a huge success. In my mind, Chris is the greatest to ever host a live sports show and I’m glad I had a front row seat.”

In my mind, Chris is the greatest to ever host a live sports show and I’m glad I had a front row seat.
– Samantha Ponder

Tom Rinaldi, GameDay contributor

“It’s simply impossible to overstate what Chris has meant to College GameDay and to the sport of college football over the last 25 years. He is the living definition of our show and through his constant presence and careful guidance, we have all grown together. His example inspires me, as a colleague and a friend.”

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