College GameDay has once again spurned the Big 12 conference. But what else is new? When it was announced last week that College GameDay would be going to Times Square (?!?!) instead of Stillwater, Oklahoma for Oklahoma State vs. TCU, I wish I could say I was shocked. I was disappointed, but not stunned. These kinds of decisions have become commonplace for the folks at ESPN.
Here are the facts: The last time that College GameDay visited a Big 12 school was Bedlam in 2015, meaning zero Big 12 schools were featured during the 2016 season. The last time they went to a Big 12 game not featuring Oklahoma was Kansas State at Baylor on December 6th, 2014.
Now there are a few reasons for this: ESPN likes to mix things up by going to remote locations or FCS games. I understand that. If there isn’t a can’t-miss game on the schedule, then spread the wealth and let schools and fans that may never get the GameDay experience have it. Also, I would like to assume (although you know what they say about assuming), that ESPN has November 4th penciled in for a trip to Stillwater for another Bedlam match up between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
That’s all well and good, but what if something bizarre happens like Baker Mayfield or Mason Rudolph go down next week with a season-ending injury (good Lord, I hope I didn’t jinx it). Then that game in early November won’t have nearly the meeting it would if both are undefeated or have just one loss when they meet in a few weeks.
Also, how about featuring a team in the conference outside of the two Oklahoma schools. If they do visit Stillwater in 2015 for Bedlam, and assuming they don’t go to any other Big 12 schools this year, that would mean that the Sooners and Cowboys would be the only two teams featured in the past three seasons if College GameDay with both trips ending up in Stillwater.
Since the Bedlam game, I tallied up all the games that GameDay has gone to that involves settings on campus or conference title games. I excluded neutral site games (i.e. Bristol Motor Speedway between Virginia Tech and Tennessee last September).
The tally goes as follows: The Big Ten received six appearances, the SEC got four, ACC had three, and the Pac-12 earned two.
I realize the Big 12 is in a perception funk across the country, but there are great personalities and teams who deserve to be highlighted far more than some of the crap teams in other conference have been such as Indiana, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Perfect example: If the national media ever got to dig deep and listen to TCU head coach Gary Patterson speak, they would fall in love with the guy and he would be a perfect sound byte for their stories.
Additionally, the Times Square idea might be the worst one yet in College GameDay history. If GameDay picked Georgia vs. Mississippi State, with the Bulldogs coming off a huge win over LSU, I would be annoyed, but at least understand it. However, as someone who works in Manhattan on a daily basis, 99% of the city does not give a rip about college football. If they do, they’re likely Notre Dame fans, probably because their Grandpa graduated in 1956 and spent their youth telling them stories about Knute Rockne. The atmosphere is not going to be anywhere close to what the show gets on campuses, or even at neutral site games, where you know, at least there is a game being played and fans in the general vicinity. There will be more people walking around Times Square confused and annoyed by the increase in traffic than actually happy that College GameDay is in town.
If College GameDay wanted to do New York City, then go to Columbia University when the Tigers play Georgetown this weekend. Or wait until October 14th for an all-Ivy League match up between Columbia and Penn. As someone who has called a game at Robert K. Kraft Field (yes, named after the Patriots’ owner), it’s a beautiful place to watch and call a game on the upper tip of Manhattan. The stadium is located on the banks of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers with views of the Hudson and in the fall you get the foliage from Inwood Hill Park (do yourself a favor and Google search the view).
Oklahoma State vs. TCU has a chance to be one of the best games in the Big 12 this season and, potentially, one of the best games in college football. It also featured two of the more colorful coaches in the conference and the country in Mike Gundy and Gary Patterson.
Instead, we will get Rece Davis and company surrounded by a bunch of tourists who will be wondering what exactly they are watching and why the other people on set keep calling Mel Brooks, “Lee Corso“.
What a shame.