I have always found it strange that of all the places College Gameday has visited throughout the years, they never managed to make it to The Grove in Oxford, Mississippi. Surely if someone had asked you (and you aren’t an Ole Miss follower) you would have guessed that they would have visited what some have called the Holy Grail of tailgating sites at SOME point in 2+ decades, but for some reason it never happened. Until today.
The show today was broadcasting live from the Grove, for the big matchup between Ole Miss and Alabama. As the show opened, we viewed shots of various tailgating scenes in the Grove, and we saw what I would describe as many large bottles of wine, champagne, beer, and various cocktails which make up the breakfast of any champions. The Gameday crew opened up the show looking incredibly sharp this morning, sporting nice southern suits and bow-ties. While they were all looking sharp, I thought we could expect a much stronger performance from Desmond’s suit game this morning.
While we are on the talk of fashion, let’s go straight to the “Sam Ponder Outfit Review of the Week featuring @GamedayJen”. Jennifer said “The jacket is nice, the skirt is bright and eye catching, the shoes (not pictured) went well with it, and her hair always looks good”. I think Sam Ponder may have a secret admirer.
The sign game this week was pretty good. Signs of note included one of Kirk Herbstreit’s face pasted on Colonel Reb (which I couldn’t get a clear shot of), “Welcome to the Grove. Please don’t poison our trees”, “Welcome people of Wal-Mart”, “If you can read this sign you’er clearly not a Bama fan”, but we had several winners this week.
After a commercial break, we were brought back to a Tom Rinaldi piece on Dak Prescott, Mississippi State QB, and how his tough upbringing has taught him to have a true work ethic. His mother Peggy was a single mother raising three young boys, and she taught them to work hard in life not through words but through actions as she worked so hard to support her children. Even with her work schedule of so many hours to keep food on the table, she never missed one of their football games. Dan Mullen told the story of his recruiting trip to see Dak, and how Peggy was very tough and demanding, but in a nice way. She told him that if Dak comes to Mississippi State, that she wants a coach who is going to make sure her son goes to class every day and gets good grades above anything else. Soon after deciding on Mississippi State, Peggy was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, and fought through a harsh battle hoping for a miracle. However, last November, Dak was called into the coaches’ office after a loss to South Carolina and told that his mother had passed away. After sitting out for a month with a hurt shoulder, his return saw him lead the Bulldogs to a victory over Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl. Inspiring stuff from Tom Rinaldi as usual.
In today’s overly casual roundtable segment (where they leave the desk and go sit in chairs ten feet away to discuss more football), Chris Fowler started off firing shots at Desmond and his love of Michigan. Fowler was holding a classy red solo cup having a drink, and told Desmond to take it because “you’ll need it… we’re talking Michigan”. The guys debated the Michigan situation with Brady Hoke, and more opinions were heard, but the highlight was Desmond staying true to his Michigan blood and being an apologist for Brady Hoke.
Gene W. had a piece on Ameer Abdullah. The gist of this segment was that Abdullah listens to John Mayer, he is small, he is good (Cris Carter said the most NFL-ready player since Randy Moss), and he is going to finish his degree in December. Good kid.
This week instead of a Tom Rinaldi Beatnik Poetry piece, we had the story of ESPN writer Wright Thompson and his family’s Ole Miss season tickets entitled “Section O, row 61”. He still holds the season tickets for the seats his father purchased some 40 years ago after painstaking research in the stadium to find the ultimate location. Lots of cool old footage from SEC games of the past.
Tom Rinaldi was back again later with a piece on Amari Cooper, who grew up in poverty in Coconut Grove, Florida. He was the son of a single mother with four brothers, and they were raised with a strong work ethic which drove him to the heights he has seen this year. Surely I’m not the only one who saw parallels to his earlier piece on Dak Prescott, as well as countless previous pieces about student athlete X overcoming poverty to become a star.
Other random thoughts and notes from today’s edition included a Cooper Manning sighting on the Grove, footage of Hugh Freeze dancing with his players, and today’s chef of the day, John Currence.
One other item I’d like everyone to keep an eye on is the continued momentum gains we are seeing from Tom Rinaldi. He no longer just does Beatnik Poetry and an occasional tear jerking segment. Now he is doing multiple segments, interviewing coaches, and taking us to and from commercial breaks occasionally. I have no real evidence to support this theory, but I think we may be seeing Tom Rinaldi being primed to fill Chris Fowler’s spot someday if Fowler ever decides to retire from his duties to focus on his duties as the new Brent Musberger, or covering big time tennis tournaments. Just keep an eye on this and we may revisit this in a few years.
Today’s show was a very football-centric show with so many great games on the schedule. There was no Babi-Mac, no George Whitfield filling a generic segment, no Bald Man on Campus, and surprisingly no Jameis Winston arrest stories this week. There was a brief discussion of the “SEC Swoop”, or as some prefer to call it, “Bama Bangs, as well as the fashion of today’s pageantry in the Grove. If you are unfamiliar with the SEC Swoop or Bama Bangs, it is basically the Justin Bieber starter kit you see below.
Now, I am certainly one who supports goofy tailgating attire to show your school spirit and celebrate the day, but being a man with little-to-no fashion sense, I have to speak up about the over-use of boat shoes in such a setting. I have three questions I would ask myself before wearing boat shoes out anywhere (if I owned any): Are you on a boat? Are you about to be on a boat? Were you just on a boat? If the answer is no to all three questions, let’s ease up on the boat shoes guys.
Alright enough fashion advice from someone with no fashion sense. Let’s get down to the business at hand, which is the picks. The boys on the show were once again going rapid fire with the picks today, which is incredibly exciting if you like hearing picks or if you run a blog dedicated to tracking picks. In “TODAY’S MICHIGAN PICK OF THE DAY FEATURING DESMOND HOWARD”, we saw Desmond Howard once again pick Michigan to overcome that 3 point spread against Rutgers, and go into New Jersey today to pick up a big(?) win over Rutgers. After last week’s pick, he is now 12-13 all time picking Michigan. I guess you have to keep taking shots at this point if you’re Desmond Howard. Anyways, this week’s special guest celebrity picker was Katy Perry, who is apparently a HUGE Ole Miss fan despite not going there and never having been to a college football game in her life as well as having no real connections to the school. She was escorted to the desk by roughly 20 state troopers, bringing Hot Toddys for the Gameday boys at the desk while wearing what can only be described as a chicken feather pink/purple football jersey. She proceeded to drunkenly pick games, ask if TCU/OU was “the game with the Cocks”, produce an oversized novelty pencil to point in Lee Corso’s face, throw corn dogs at the camera to indicate she likes Auburn over LSU, and pick Ole Miss to win today. She was asked if she was in talks to perform at the Superbowl, to which she replied that she may be in talks, but would never pay the NFL for that opportunity, so “the ball is in their field now”. Alright then. Desmond and Kirk both picked Alabama, as well as David Pollack. Charley the Cat went with the upset of Ole Miss over Alabama. Lee Corso’s big headgear pick saw him choose Alabama over Ole Miss, as he donned the elephant headgear. We closed the show as drunk Katy Perry pulled it off his head and threw it on the ground before throwing more corn dogs at the camera. A truly cringe-worthy guest picker. Enjoy your day and have a happy football!
Oh and don’t forget….