01 July 2008
If you were listening to ESPN radio this afternoon with Scott Van Pelt and Kirk Herbstreit, then you likely heard them talking about the fact that the most likely spot for ESPN GameDay on the weekend of August 30 will the Georgia Dome for the Alabama vs. Clemson game.
I say 'most likely' because ESPN has yet to formally announce it, and until they do so, plans can always change.
You play a big, non-conference, neutral site game for 2 reasons:
- Exposure into that area's recruiting base - Alabama appears to be offering scholarships to a large number of Georgia HS seniors this year, and Atlanta is a hotbed of HS talent.
- National Exposure - Just playing a big non-conference game gets some publicity. But when the big boys show up, it changes to an event. This type of national television exposure is beyond measure to a program trying to re-establish itself among the nation's elite. It's not quite as good as GameDay being on campus at Tuscaloosa for a game, but it is the next best thing.
I know the first instinct for a lot of Bama fans is to bring up the fact that the Tide has had a poor record when Fowler, Corso & Herbstreit have been around. And that's true... but it has nothing to do with the hype surrounding GameDay and everything to do with the fact that the opponent in the game is typically a very good team, and for the majority of the last decade, Alabama has not had enough talent to consistently win games against very good teams. If the GameDay folks rolled into town for the Western Kentucky game I have no doubt Bama would end that particular losing streak...
Setting this game up for the 1st week of the season was a stroke of genius for both the Alabama and Clemson programs. This will be college football's 1st real marquee matchup of the season, and the game should have loads of publicity for weeks leading up to it. The fact that the game will also be televised by ABC (which along with ESPN is owned by Disney) means that there will be no hesitancy from ESPN to really hype the game all week prior.
Once ESPN makes the official announcement regarding GameDay, we'll let you know.