The picks are in; the morning games are coming to a close; the afternoon games are about to kick off; it is time for this week’s College Gameday review. Before we get started, I wanted to share for the record that the new woman shredding on the guitar in the new Gameday intro this year is Lzzy Hale from the band Halestorm. Lots of interest each week in who she is is or why she is our Gameday intro, and since I don’t think I ever addressed this issue I thought I would do that right now.
Anyways. This week’s edition came to us live from East Lansing, Michigan for the biggest Big 10 matchup of the year, Michigan State vs. Ohio State. It was a chilly morning in East Lansing with the balmy weather somewhere around 37 degrees for the show. It should be noted that Desmond Howard was apparently broadcasting from somewhere in the Arctic circle this morning, or he was at least dressed for it.
37 degrees out in the wind is pretty chilly, but I’d like to compare it to what Kirk Herbstreit was wearing this morning:
One man wears a normal business suit, and another man is bundled up to explore the North pole. Was it never cold up there at Michigan when Desmond was busy winning Heismans? Anyways, another item we need to discuss is Kirk’s lapel rose this morning. This appears to be a recent trend in weeks where the Gameday crew (and SEC network crew) are sporting lapel roses. I’m not sure what to make of this, but lots of people are apparently interested, so let’s keep an eye out for Kirk’s lapel rose each week.
While we are on the topic of fashion, let’s review Gameday’s fashion version of the odd couple. Samantha Ponder was sporting a nice winter outfit this morning which Jennifer was a big fan of. She loved the jacket, loved the colors, and loved the details on the jacket. Jennifer said she loves “how sassy Samantha Ponder dresses” in the winter. She got two thumbs up from Jennifer this week. Someone who did not get two thumbs up was “Quarterback Guru to the Stars” George Whitfield. He appeared to be making progress with the matching colors this morning, but was still sporting a tiny coat with a teenie tiny lapel rose. If he was wearing “those damn brown shoes” as Jennifer calls them, at least they matched this week. Let’s keep making progress George!
We had two special feature stories this week, the first of which featured the only appearance of one Tom Rinaldi this week. It was a rehashing of a 2012 feature on Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez. Rodriguez served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and while in Afghanistan made a promise to a fellow soldier named Kevin Thompson that if he ever made it out of there alive he would play D1 college football somewhere. After a battle in which 8 soldiers were killed, including Thompson, Rodriguez was awarded a purple heart and bronze star. He returned home and put together a recruiting video with a friend and posted it to the internet. It caught the eye of Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, who saw an incredible work ethic and desire to play, which was punctuated by the fact that Rodriguez was not asking for a scholarship; only a chance to walk on. Since then, Rodriguez has played in 37 games straight. A great quote from Daniel to top it all off: “What do you do after your dream comes true? Go and live another dream”. The segment can be found here: http://goo.gl/sH9lis
The second feature of the day was presented by Gene W. and was a piece about Arizona State running back D.J. Foster. Foster’s backstory (like most Gene W. and Rinaldi pieces) is a great story of overcoming adversity. Foster lost his 19 year old sister at the age of 15, one week before his first ever varsity high school football game. He made it a point to not give up on living his life, and on the very first play of his varsity career returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. When it came time to pick a college, he committed to stay close to home and attend Arizona State university, where he has kept the team on the national radar ever since. The touching finale was the story of the five year anniversary of his sister’s death, when Foster and his father met on the Arizona State practice field to release a bundle of balloons with his sister’s picture attached. They did this not to mourn her loss, but to celebrate her life.
Now that the touching stories are finished, let’s get to some wacky signs we saw this week in East Lansing. Strong work this week included “IS THIS THE NICKELBACK CONCERT?”, a bunch of Urban Meyer/Oscar Meyer weiner references, “Urban Meyer doesn’t wet his toothbrush”, and “RUSH HOUR 3 WAS OK”. This week’s inappropriate winners are the following:
And of course…
Nice work fellas.
When it came time to get down to the business of picking games, Desmond Howard could do nothing right for this Michigan State crowd, as I’m sure you can imagine. He did manage to get back on track with the “OFFICIAL DESMOND HOWARD MICHIGAN PICK OF THE WEEK”, picking Michigan to take down Northwestern. The counter is reset this week, so our running count of Michigan picks is back at 1.
Our special guest celebrity this week was Alice Cooper, of rock and roll music fame. He is from Michigan I guess. He was very casual and non-chalant with his picks, and didn’t get too technical with his picks. I feel like the overly technical celebrity pickers tend to underperform, while Katy Perry wins the week for some reason. Mr. Cooper of course went with Michigan State over Ohio State, to the delight of the crowd, so his casual selections may be a good sign for Sparty. Desmond and David Pollack both went with Michigan State as well, while Kirk had another no-pick since he is calling the game. Coach Corso reminisced over his first ever official headgear pick, when he put on the Brutus the Buckeye headgear back in 1996. This got the crowd fired up, but he quickly changed his tone, as he ripped off his overcoat to reveal green armor, and his assistants put on a gigantic Spartan headgear and set of fake hands for him. Charley the Cat went with Ohio State, and may be due for a win, so this should be a good matchup between the two.
The generic Big Ten action is in full force this morning, which can only mean one thing. We have once again put another edition of College Gameday in the books. Be forewarned: I woke up this morning feeling sick, so I will probably not be as funny as I think I am. Anyways. This week we were broadcasting live from the USS San Diego to honor our nation’s troops, and celebrate the big matchup between two teams that were not ever really specified upfront. Today’s big game is probably Alabama taking on Texas A&M, with a handful of other interesting games on the schedule (just not as big of a week as last week). Our experts are currently sitting at 16 to 3 in favor of the Crimson Tide over the Fighting Farmers. Make of that what you will.
Apparently this ship, the USS San Diego, has been under construction since 2007 at a cost of right around $1.6 billion. The crowd wasn’t as big as most other editions of College Gameday, but that is to be expected when they are not at a campus or the site of a big game. Noticeably present was the Washington State flag; a streak that will never end. I’m fairly certain that when the first college football game is being played on the moon between Oregon and Maryland (both with new ridiculous looking spacesuit uniforms), College Gameday will be there and so will one astronaut waving a Washington State flag. Chris Fowler opened up the first hour on ESPNU just like always with Kirk, Desmond and David before handing the ball off to Samantha Steele for hosting duties.
Samantha Steele kept traveling through time back and forth, as she would do a segment in the daylight, then immediately follow it with a segment in the dark, and so on. The first hour was pretty slow this morning. We got a replay of the Bill Snyder piece from two weeks ago featuring Baby Bill Snyder. We got Todd McShay breaking down some USC footage. The highlight of the first hour was a Tom Rinaldi beatnik poetry piece entitled “Service”. He pondered the deeper meanings of serving others, and used lots of one word sentences like “Strong… Sound… Pure…Commitment…” while football highlights of the service academies were being shown. Thank you for another beatnik poetry segment Tom Rinaldi. Please picture Jennifer and I sitting Indian-style snapping our fingers in applause.
As we closed the first hour, David and Desmond made some picks. The consensus was Bama over TAMU, KState over TCU, and LSU over Miss St. David Pollack is still conducting the Beaver Train and picked Oregon St, while Desmond Howard quickly jumped ship and took Stanford. After these picks, the main show on ESPN started, so Fowler and the gang dispatched David Pollack to go use the internet and tweet at the rubes. This week David was in a bunk on the ship somewhere tweeting before being disturbed by a Navy officer yelling at him which sent him scampering away in fear.
We got several segments today touring the ship. Tom Rinaldi, Sam Steele and Gene W. were all over the place showing off cool parts of the ship, but these segments felt like they were shoe-horned in pretty hard. Gene W. gave us a piece on Johnny Manziel AKA Johnny Football from Texas A&M. What we learned about Johnny Football is that Aggies can take old Chuck Norris jokes and substitute Johnny Football’s name into them. Oh also he’s pretty good at football. We didn’t get any great signs today because of the smaller/sober crowd onboard the USS San Diego, so this week’s sign of the week will go to the American Flag because I support freedom and liberty.
Without a doubt, the highlight of the episode was the piece from Tom Rinaldi about Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez. He was serving time in the US Army and stationed in a pretty bad part of Afghanistan before enrolling at Clemson. Him and his fellow soldier Kevin Thompson made a pact that after they finished their time in the service they would go back to the States and do something meaningful. Daniel’s vow was to go to college, get a degree, and play football. Two weeks later in a massive Taliban ambush, Thompson was killed and Rodriguez was seriously wounded before the Taliban surge was stopped. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, but after returning to the States he struggled as many soldiers do. He suffered anxiety, couldn’t sleep, and took to drinking; only finding peace when he visited Arlington cemetery. One day he woke up and decided to fulfill his vow to Thompson and started training to play football. He made a recruiting video not even asking for a scholarship but just the chance to walk on and play football somewhere and give his life purpose again. Dabo Swinney gave him a shot, and now he is one of the emotional leaders of the Clemson Tigers. I’m sure I completely butchered this story, as I can’t really do it justice. This was maybe the best human interest story of the year, so if it pops up on Youtube I suggest checking it out.
But alas, it is time for the picks. The full slate of picks from all the guys can be found HERE and HERE. This week didn’t have a celebrity picking games, but it was still a special guest. This week we had Lt. Curtis Sharp, who is one of the USS San Diego navigators and a former college football player on hand to pick games. He seemed incredibly nervous, and made it clear he was picking the Stanford Cardinals to beat Oregon State today. The big game for the headgear pick turned out to be the matchup between Navy and Troy. I guess I should have seen this coming, but I am not a smart man and this was not heavily teased like most weeks. Lt. Sharp took Navy, as did Herbie; making it clear that he valued his life too much to pick Troy while surrounded by sailors. Coach Corso had another FANTASTIC pick, bringing a live goat to the set and picking Navy over Troy for the headgear selection. I think the possibility of bringing in a live mascot highly influences Corso’s picks, and also makes Herbie highly uncomfortable as he disappeared quickly once the goat showed up. Enjoy your day, and support our troops.