I worked at ESPN for a while, and one of the big College Gameday rules back in the day — obviously it can change week-to-week, but still — was that you wanted to go to a top-tier game where both teams are coming off a win. That’s not the case tomorrow — Missouri isn’t even ranked, and they just lost to Indiana (highlight embedded above). Just for some context — Indiana has appeared in nine bowl games ever, and the last time they were in the Rose Bowl, LBJ was President. South Carolina opened this season by officially allowing Kenny Hill of Texas A&M to be named “Kenny Football.” This is a terrible game.
In fairness to the choice, there ain’t much this week — Stanford at Washington might be the best Saturday game, because the home team (UW) is also the underdog yet has the better record — and the 8pm ABC game is Notre Dame vs. Syracuse. Gameday could have gone there — that’s the game Fowler and Herbstreit are eventually headed to go announce — but I’m not sure anyone is clamoring for that game either. FSU vs. NC State is vaguely interesting in the 3:30pm slot, but they just did an FSU game last weekend. Clearly, this was a “filler weekend” before — likely — Ole Miss and Alabama next week (which would be Gameday’s first time at The Grove).
Here’s every Gameday location ever. Typically, unless it’s very early season or there’s a special arc to the game — i.e. NDSU or a service academies thing — both teams are ranked. In this case, they’re not. That’s one strike against this episode. There are other strikes, however.
1. When they advertised this game, which is being hosted at the University of South Carolina, they used a photo from Clemson University’s campus — i.e. South Carolina’s biggest rival:
2. Kenny Chesney is the guest picker. I love Kenny Chesney like the next red-blooded but sexually ambiguous American male, but … his ties are to the University of Tennessee. He has no context whatsoever with South Carolina except from (a) hics like him and (b) he’s played concerts there.
3. The best thing you can say about this game in advance, ostensibly, is that “the winner will finish drives.”
Could you make a case that this will be the worst Gameday ever? Quite possibly. The crowd should still be somewhat amp’ed — this is basically the conference debut for most people’s teams (SoCar did play UGA already, as well as A&M) — and Columbia is a good town. But in terms of the context we expect from Gameday, this is a terrible slotting on, yes, admittedly a sub-par weekend.