Win And They Will Come: ESPN’s College GameDay Finally Shifts to Flex Scheduling

Posted by Bennet Hayes (@hoopstraveler) on October 8th, 2014

While it’s doubtful we will bear witness to Katy Perry flinging corn dogs around Cameron Indoor Stadium this winter, the basketball spin-off of college football’s wildly popular College GameDay might finally gain a foothold of its own. The series is, at LONG last, moving to a flexible schedule that will allow the network to select the game and venue capable of supplying college basketball fans maximum intrigue. What’s more, Jay Williams and Seth Greenberg will join Rece Davis and Jay Bilas in a reconfigured lineup of on-air talent for the series. The duo should provide a welcome respite from the aimless rhetoric of Digger Phelps and Jalen Rose, the two men they will be replacing. GameDay has never felt like a requisite watch on winter Saturdays; might that begin to change in January 2015?

Seth Greenberg And Jay Williams Will Join The College GameDay Crew In 2015

Seth Greenberg And Jay Williams Will Join The College GameDay Crew In 2015

Last year’s slate of games actually played out nicely for the folks over at the Worldwide Leader, as even the sites saddled with underachieving hosts (Colorado, Oklahoma State) were accompanied by plenty of surrounding drama (thanks Marcus Smart!) when the crew came to town. In 2014, there were no trips to sub-.500 Missouri Valley schools (Southern Illinois, 2008), battles between SEC also-rans (Florida vs. Tennessee, 2009), or match-ups of NIT squads (Washington vs. Arizona, 2012). The flex schedule should ensure that none of the above – or anything remotely close to them – occurs in 2015, either. But the new schedule should do far more than simply ensure quality match-ups. Site selection now becomes something for fan bases to win each weekend; we’ve seen the fall travel itineraries of Chris Fowler and the football crew become a weekly news story as college towns battle for hosting rights. Basketball sites of years past have often failed to generate the local red carpet treatment afforded the football gang, but this new, more spontaneous selection process should have fans excited and cities better prepared to enjoy a weekend with GameDay.

The show’s schedule-makers have long relied on college basketball’s old stalwarts to carry the load – Kansas and Duke have hosted GameDay more times than any other school – but the flex schedule should tap into the breadth of college basketball venues across the country. Trekking outside the power conferences has always been a risky venture for GameDay, given the lack of predictability at the mid-major level. No longer with flex scheduling, however, as the trendy mid-majors of that season can now be afforded the spotlight (see: Wichita State, 2014). Cherished homecourts like Cameron Indoor and Allen Fieldhouse will surely remain in the rotation, but on-the-fly decision-making will bring in a more varied – and representative — sampling of college hoops.

Lee Corso (replete with mascot head) may not be walking through those doors this winter, but the flex scheduling and host overhaul has college hoops’ GameDay as well positioned as ever to seize some momentum. Matching the popularity of the football version will be just short of impossible, but the decision to employ most every other detail of their template is a wise one. Match-ups will be improved, anticipation more salient, and on-set conversation increasingly astute and focused. It is a potential game-changer for a franchise in desperate need of one. Now, if only we could get a mascot-head on Jay Bilas…

BHayes (244 Posts)

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