by Matt Kupec
November 13, 2018
This past weekend ESPN’s College Football “Game Day” had a feature celebrating the 25th year of hosting the very popular pre-game college football show. Originating from the site of one of the day’s best matchups, with a sea of fans cheering wildly in the background a host of announcers talk college football for three hours, reporting on the top teams, games, players and storylines. The show finishes with the panel selecting their picks in a number of key games.
Watching that segment was entertaining and brought back so many memories of some of college football’s great games and stories over the last 25 years.
For me, it brought the memory of when ESPN’s “Game Day” traveled to Chapel Hill, NC on November 8, 1997 for the #2 Florida State vs. #5 UNC match-up of two unbeaten teams. This would be UNC’s only time hosting “Game Day” on the UNC campus. Unfortunately Florida State won 20–3 in a game that the Tar Heels really didn’t make much of a contest. But in my 40 years of being associated with UNC football it was by far the greatest environment for a college football game in Chapel Hill. Nothing has come close since then!
But what is it about “Game Day” that makes it so incredibly popular? Why is it must see television for college football fans? And what honor does it bring a program when “Game Day” announces it will be traveling to that campus to host its show?
For one, it is a huge honor to host “Game Day” on your campus. When “Game Day” announces they are traveling to your campus to host its show you know you have one most important game of the weekend. “Game Day” brings great energy and excitement that ignites an entire community. It validates your program and it becomes a bragging right and the talk of the town. Just think about how good UCF feels today knowing that ESPN’s “Game Day” will be in Orlando next week to host its show on the UCF campus. “Game Day’s” visit shows the importance of the University of Cincinnati vs. University of Central Florida football game. UCF will feel like they have been crowned king of college football for a week!
What colleges have hosted the ESPN “Game Day” over the past twenty-five years? I think we could all venture a pretty good guess about which programs have hosted the most shows but let’s take a deep dive and I’ll provide an in-depth analysis about the locations of ESPN’s “Game Day”:
I. GAME DAY SCHOOL HOSTS
· “Game Day” Hosts by Conference School — this chart shows the # of games hosted by Power 5 Conference members. Here we look at the number of times ESPN’s Game Day has traveled to the various college campuses to host its show. We look at the Power 5 Conferences only. For games at neutral sites, the home team is credited with hosting Game Day. Notre Dame has hosted Game Day nine times but is not included in the chart because they remain an independent in football:
· Most “Game Days” Hosted by School. This chart looks at the colleges who lead in the number of games hosted on their campuses:
II. GAME DAYS PLAYED IN
· ” Game Day” Games Played In. This chart looks at the total number of times colleges have played in the game where Game Day is announcing from. They may not be the host but they may have been the opponent. Georgia is a great example. Georgia, surprisingly, has only hosted 3 Game Day visits to Athens but Georgia has played in a total of 20 games where Game Day was hosting, meaning that 17 times Georgia was the road team:
· Most “Game Days” Played in By School. This chart looks at the schools with the highest number of games played on “Game Day” visits. Alabama has participated in the most with 43 games:
· Best and Worst “Game Day” Records (played in at least 5 games). This chart looks at the best and lowest percentages of those who have played in at least 5 Game Day games:
III. Games That Attracted the Most ESPN “Game Day” Visits
· Games that Attracted the Most ESPN “Game Day” Visits. This chart looks at the individual games that have been hosted as the site for ESPN’s “Game Day.” Would you have guessed correctly the top game that served as the site for ESPN’s “Game Day” over the years?
IV. Final ESPN “Game Day Facts
(This article previously published at http://mattkupecsports.com/matt-kupec-a-review-of-espns-game-day-college-football-sites/)
About the Author
Matt Kupec is a fundraising professional with 32 years of significant higher education development experience. He has directed three major university fundraising campaigns and nearly $5 billion has been raised under his leadership. He has led the fundraising programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hofstra University, Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and HelpMeSee, a New York City based non-profit.