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September 18, 2013

GameDay selection process

Earlier, I posted that I didn't think ESPN GameDay would come to Athens for LSU vs. Georgia. It inspired a few comments about GameDay and their selection process. @ClemMcDavid sent me to an article in Street and Smith's Sport Business Daily about GameDay, which was a nice rundown on it's sponsorship evolution process, but also had some nuggets I found interesting.

First, three of the four major sponosors are rooted in Atlanta. Conceptually, I knew this, but didn't think about it until I was reading the article. They they actually addressed it. Between Home Depot, AT&T, and Coke, they are only lacking Delta for the Atlanta slam. The reason, Atlanta is the center of the college football firmament.

It isn't an accident they are almost always at the SEC Championship game. They are almost always at the CFA kickoff game. Don't be surprised when they are in Atlanta for the Peach Bowl when it hosts the semi-finals. There is a chicken and egg relationship here. Atlanta is the largest American city that is a true college football town.

One other interesting thing is their selection process for GameDay locations:
From a list as long as five or six games each week, Fitting and the “GameDay” crew — Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard — talk about the merits of each potential road trip. While Fitting runs point on the meeting, Fowler, the primary host, and Herbstreit, the show’s most visible personality, typically have the most input.
Now, that won't quell those that think Herbie is biased against UGA, but that also makes sense. ESPN's brass is involved, too:
By the time Fitting left the “GameDay” set and flew home to his Connecticut home that Saturday night at 10, the emails were still flying back and forth with Mark Gross, ESPN’s senior vice president and executive producer, and John Wildhack, executive vice president, production. 
“John has the ultimate say,” Fitting said. “But rarely is there ever any pushback.”
That is where the ESPN connection comes in. Of course, they say their is no network bias, noting
ESPN does not discriminate over which broadcaster has the game at that site. On several occasions, “GameDay” has traveled to a game that’s being televised by CBS or Fox.
“There’s no real formula and there’s no concern over the network broadcasting the game,” Fitting said.

And no one, Fitting emphasizes, other than those who work on “GameDay,” have a voice in the decision. Even the highest-level sponsors don’t know where the show is going until a public announcement is made on Sundays.
Again, it could be a chicken and egg thing. CBS only broadcasts 15 games a year, including the SEC Championship game, with ABC carried 42 games on a national or split national basis last year. In 2012, four of their regular season games, including the SECCG, were GameDay sites. That math suggests randomness, too.

Still, with #3 Ohio State playing Wisconsin, I'd be shocked if they forgo the opportunity to be in Columbus, even for a top 10 match-up in Athens. For my money, we'll see them in Jacksonville this year.


Benjamin Currier said...

The "no network bias" only seems to apply when there is a matchup that is too big to ignore, like the SECCG last year essentially being a National Championship semi-final. Since the #1 team has played in that game over the last several years, GameDay has often ended up there. Last week: #1 vs. #6, Manziel, BAMA looking for revenge, game was too big to ignore.

If the U is able to beat Georgia Tech, GameDay will be in Tallahassee for a rivalry game between two potentially undefeated teams. That game will be on ESPN or ABC. No way they go to Jacksonville to promote a game between a 1-2 loss Us & a potential 2-3 loss Gator team that is being broadcasted on a competing network.

Zach Fitzpatrick said...

While Herbstreit may be biased against UGA, I've always heard the bigger issue is that Chris Fowler isn't a fan of Athens at all. Not sure how true this is, but I've heard this for years. I always heard that was why GameDay didn't come to Athens from the 1998 Tennessee game to the 2008 Bama game. Also, the fact that so many of our early 2000's games that always seemed to be on a rival network (3:30 CBS) didn't help either. And, yes, I've got to believe there is a network bias. Why in the world would one network promote another network's game? I can't blame ESPN, it's just common sense.

TylerDawgden said...

Zach, I hadn't heard that about Fowler. Any ideas where that originated?

And hating Athens is like hating kittens.

Sanford222view said...

I think you mean like hating puppies.

Zach Fitzpatrick said...

How anyone could hate Athens is beyond me, but he made a comment about UGA/Athens a while back being just a bunch of overserved, overdressed frat boys. I couldn't remember where I first heard it so I did a quick Google search for 'Chris Fowler hates UGA' and one of the first links was this blog:

The writer of that blog acknowledges that probably didn't play into GameDay not coming to the Blackout game in 2007, but it seems as if the point still holds.

TylerDawgden said...

I didn't read GSB then....

/joking of course

TylerDawgden said...

I honestly hadn't heard about that and didn't see it before you pointed it out. Funny, if he thinks Colorado fans are better.

They are certainly under dressed, but I found them to be plenty served.

paulwesterdawg said...

Zach - Logically speaking. Why would anyone at ESPN hate UGA? We're a cash cow when we're on TV. The biggest college football TV market by far and everyone in that market either wants us to win or lose. Badly.

Our fans ARE over served and over dressed and too many ARE Frat boys. That was said in 1998. 15 years ago. It has no bearing on today.

Instead of looking for conspiracy...just consider the obvious. How many times from 1998 - 2008 was UGA hosting the biggest game in America at home?

Once. That's it. 2005 UGA vs. Auburn. That week they went to a small school game. Something they do once a year anyway.

UGA doesn't play UF at home.
UT has been medicore or bad in every single UGA home game since '98.

We have played Bama twice since then. In '03 they were rancid. In '08 it was televised.

In '04, LSU lost to AU the week before and it was no longer the biggest game in the nation like it should have been.

UGA didn't play a nationally relevant home game (Meaning a match-up of Top 15 teams) until that LSU game in '04.

Clemson wasn't ranked in '02. UT was horrible that year. GT is never good. AU was only good in '05 and we covered that.

There's not a conspiracy. UGA just hasn't played many balls to the wall monster games at home.

paulwesterdawg said...

You were missing out. It was good back then.


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