“College GameDay” analyst Kirk Herbstreit isn’t going to let some hinky weather dampen his spirit. In fact, the possibility of broadcasting his show’s inaugural visit to Minnesota in the snow brings joy to the heart.
“I’ve sat on our set in August, September and October when we’ve been in Orlando, Dallas and Tallahassee. If I’m never again in that heat, I’ll be happy,” said the former Ohio State quarterback, mingling with reporters Friday afternoon in the Gophers’ practice facility. “It can’t be cold enough.”
The morning’s special guest probably won’t be complaining much about the expected snowfall, either. Eric Decker, who will serve as the pregame show’s “celebrity picker,” played football and baseball for the University of Minnesota before having a successful football career. It was unclear whether his wife, country singer Jessie James, would brave the elements to tag along. The Gophers’ all-time leading receiver, who retired last year, is expected to offer his predictions during the final moments of the three-hour broadcast, which will be begin airing live from Northrop Mall at 8 a.m.
Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders, a former Gophers basketball player and son of a former Gophers basketball player, also will participate. He will be interviewed by ESPN’S Maria Taylor at 9:50 a.m.
Chris Fowler, who hosted “GameDay” for nearly 25 years before shifting to the booth in 2014, didn’t sound quite as excited about the forecast as the rest of the ESPN team (“I was laying by a pool in Miami yesterday,” he said), but he acknowledged that the atmosphere would be attractive to a lot of national viewers who have never owned a pair of mittens.
“I think people from the South are fascinated by the snow,” he said, following a one-hour meeting with Gophers coach P.J. Fleck. “They don’t know how to drive in it, but they love to watch football being played in it.”
Fowler, who will be calling a game from Minnesota for the first time in his long career, said the presence of “GameDay” on campus only elevates what’s already a high-stakes game.
“The show is not about showing the backs of people’s heads,” he said. “We’re here to show the world what Minnesota can be about. The stage is yours.”
Anyone can trek out to Northrop Mall to watch the broadcast in person, but if you want to land a spot in the coveted “pit area,” prepare to arrive early. The gates don’t open until 5 a.m., but die-hard fans in other cities have been known to start lining up at least 90 minutes before that.