CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. – As an undergrad in the late 1990s, Drew Gallagher crossed the Dust Bowl multiple times a week, trudging across Boston College’s campus. The walks were often non-descript, simply a path to a destination.
Saturday, the walk will be a lot different for Gallagher. It will be quite memorable.
“For that area [at Boston College] to be the epicenter of the college football world, that is a scene I can’t wait to see,” said Gallagher, who returns to his alma mater this weekend as College GameDay Built by The Home Depot’s coordinating producer.
Gallagher’s life and career path has been paved by his innate love of sports. Shortly after arriving on campus for his freshman year, he got involved at WZBC and The Heights, Boston College’s student run radio and newspaper.
“While I had always been a fan, those two outlets were my introduction to sports media,” said Gallagher, a Philadelphia native. “I loved covering the games and couldn’t get enough of it.”
Those experiences on campus led Gallagher to also try out television, working over the summer for a regional sports network.
“Gaining an understanding on all three mediums was very beneficial for me,” he said. “I learned what I liked, what I didn’t and what I was good at.”
In the end, it was television that would suit the Philadelphia native best. “Producing, not commentating,” he quickly adds.
Following a stint at another regional network immediately after graduation, Gallagher joined ESPN in 2000. Eventually, he would land as the features producer on College GameDay, a show he first encountered as a student at Boston College.
In that producer role, his past and present converged in 2009.
“I had been working on a Mark Herzlich feature,” said Gallagher, detailing the journey of Boston College’s first team All-American who had been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer. “But we didn’t have an air date set.”
Then, on a late Saturday night, the phone rang. It was then-College GameDay producer and now-ESPN Vice President of Production, Lee Fitting.
“We are going to Boston College next week and we want to run the feature,” he told Gallagher.
The following Saturday, the feature ran, setting the scene for one of the show’s most memorable moments in its 25 years of road shows: Herzlich declared live on the College GameDay set that he was cancer free.
“It was such a great moment for Mark, his family, and by extension, the entire Boston College community,” Gallagher said. “And it was great for the show. I was extremely proud to be a part of it.”
Gallagher’s responsibilities for College GameDay continued to grow, leading him to be named coordinating producer in 2014. For the last five college football seasons, he has spent his fall Saturdays on the road, traveling to the best college football storyline of the week.
This week, that storyline leads Gallagher back to his BC home and back to the Dust Bowl for a walk to a very different destination.
“I’d be lying if I didn’t say it is going to be special,” Gallagher said.