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Sorry Iowa State, College GameDay was never coming… and won’t be

NCAA Football: Iowa at Iowa State

After Iowa State improved to 5-2 for the first time in 15 years, there was a sudden push from the Cyclone faithful to bring College GameDay to Ames next week when Iowa State hosts TCU in what could have been a Top 25 match up.

The hashtag #CollegeAmesDay began spreading throughout the fan base on social media. Fans really thought they had a chance. But deep down, I knew that heartbreak was the end result for the Cyclones.

And that’s what happened when GameDay announced they would be heading to Columbus, Ohio for Ohio State vs. Penn State.

Even Iowa State players were bummed.

But this was always going to be the case.

Why? It was too easy. If Penn State beat Michigan, GameDay was going to Columbus, Ohio for Ohio State vs. Penn State. Heck, they may have even decided to do that if Penn State lost to Michigan on Saturday night.

Here’s why: College GameDay and ESPN are in the business of getting as many eyeballs as they can to watch a program, get the highest ratings to in turn sell their product to advertisers for the highest dollar or even to justify raising prices to cable companies. It’s all game.

Yes, Ames is a unique place and is consistently voted one of the top college towns in America. But is the average college football fan more likely to watch GameDay from the legendary Horseshoe or from Jack Trice Stadium?

This isn’t a knock on Iowa State, but the answer is the Horseshoe. Now ESPN runs promos and commercials all week touting the match up between two teams in the top 10 meeting, with the winner ending up in the driver’s seat of the ultra competitive Big Ten East division race.

My conversation continued with many of you on Twitter, but it’s much easier to explain in more than 140 characters here.


There’s no doubt the atmosphere in Ames would have been unbelievable. But that has nothing to do with what ESPN is trying to accomplish. For a business model that is hemorrhaging subscribers, they need people to physically want to turn on their TVs on Saturday morning and watch their channel(s). The people that would have tuned in for a theoretical College GameDay show from Ames would’ve loved it. The problem is not enough people, or certainly less than will for Ohio State – Penn State, would watch.

Then there was this.

That doesn’t matter to ESPN. Not one bit. ESPN isn’t in the business of making sure certain programs get equal time on their network. Why do you think the NFL gets talked about more than hockey on ESPN, FS1 and other sports networks? Because more people care about the NFL than care about hockey. It really is as simple as being a numbers game. Don’t overthink this for another second.

Now as a consolation prize, Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register tweeted this:

Guys, I’m sorry, but there is almost no chance Iowa State is getting GameDay on November 11th. A perfect storm would have to occur for that to happen. Iowa State would have to beat TCU and West Virginia the next two weeks (at worst case just beat WVU), while Oklahoma State would have to beat West Virginia and Oklahoma, and we would have a battle of two teams in the Top 25. Then, yes, you’ll get GameDay.

But for as good as Iowa State is playing, these next two games are incredibly difficult and could see the Cyclones at 5-4 after both are said and done. TCU is playing incredible football and a road in Morgantown is never easy.

Heck, as of right now that’s not even pegged as the best game in the Big 12 that day with Oklahoma hosting TCU, a possible top 10 match up. Of course, OU could be featured the week before when the Sooners go the Stillwater for Bedlam, so maybe GameDay would not want to feature OU twice. But also, while OU would have, in theory, been featured on GameDay two times (Ohio State and Oklahoma State), neither of those games was in Norman, so it’s possible. The Sooners have plenty to sell for viewership purposes including their brand and arguably the most polarizing college football player since Johnny Manziel in Baker Mayfield.

Also on November 11th, Auburn hosts Georgia and Miami welcomes in Notre Dame. Both are big time match ups with very large fan bases and could have massive implications for the College Football Playoff.

I don’t mean to rain on Iowa State’s parade here. GameDay would be fantastic in Ames, but I don’t see anyway it happens this season.

Here’s the good news: it means that Matt Campbell won’t get even more publicity than he’s already receiving and maybe means he can stay that slightly hidden gem Iowa State fans have known they’ve had since he stepped on campus nearly two years ago.

Silver lining, ya know?

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