What are the chances that ESPN College Gameday will make a trip to the Twin Cities and show off the brand new TCF Stadium to the world of college football? (don't answer that question, cause I know the real answer but amuse me). But rather than spend time talking about why GD should NOT come to Minnesota, I want to make the argument for why they should.
Since a 1993 match-up between #1 Notre Dame and #2 Florida State, ESPN College Gameday has taken their Saturday morning preview show on the road. 1994 saw six premier games also receive the on campus version of the show and then beginning 1995, pretty much every week is a new location. By my calculations there have been 168 College Gameday road shows (336 teams). The selected venue "usually" is the location of a premier game on that week's schedule, although not always.
Obviously teams like Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas, Oklahoma, etc have been on Gameday or hosted Gameday on a regular basis. By my brief research I have found that Ohio State has been on the show (either the host school or away team) 21 times, Florida 20, Notre Dame 18, Michigan 15 and a number of other premier programs between 10 and 16 times. This makes sense as often these schools are highly ranked and fighting for conference championships or potentially a BCS bid. But finding the biggest named schools is not always the end all in selecting the CGD location.
So why should College Gameday even consider the Gophers for their broadcast schedule?
Reason #1 - TCF Stadium
The Gophers are moving out of one othe worst college football venues into one of the finest. A year ago or were the Gophers going to be in the Metrodome for the 2009 schedule I wouldn't even be considering this post. This is the premier reason that CGD should come to the U of Minn. There is a storied history of on campus football and the Gohpers are moving back home where new traditions and a new college gameday atmosphere will be created. Stories about old Memorial Stadium and how it was the birthplace of the modern day chearleader are pretty easy stories that can fill air time.
Reason #2 - Minnesota actually has a place in the history of college football
Forgive me if I sound like Tim "tweeting" Brewster for a minute but we DO have six national championships to our credit and 18 Big Ten Championships. I realize that they were a long time ago, but the success of the Gopher program all happened when they played on campus! Now they are returning to campus and once again there are several stories that are low hanging fruit for CGD. The championships are great but you also have long standing rivalries, a Heisman winner and 28 All-Americans. This is a program that today's college football fan knows nothing about. Not that anybody should confuse us with USC, but this program was once great and is trying to get back there (another great story).
Reason #3 - We have some really good matchups
I see three potential games that could cause CGD to make the trip north.
Air Force @ Minnesota - this game is kind of admitedly weak. But first and foremost it is the very first game in the new stadium. That would be the reason to have CGD on campus, but it would be a nice hat tip to the MWC who has performed very well over the last few years. Air Force isn't Utah, but the MWC isn't the MAC anymore. Games to contend with? UCLA vs. Tennessee, Iowa vs. Iowa State (rivalry), Notre Dame vs. Michigan. All are decent match ups but the opening of a the Gopher's brand new stadium has to put the U of Minn in contention to host.
Cal @ Minnesota - This is the best team we will see come to TCF. Assuming Cal beats Maryland and Eastern Washington they could easily come into this game as a top 10 team. Not only is Cal a team that could potentially contend for the Pac-10 title, but they'll bring Jahvid Best and his Heisman campaign season to The Vault. This isn't a great national match-up as Cal shoudl be favoried, but it is a great team visiting the brand new TCF. Games to conetnd with? Tennessee vs. Florida, Georgia vs. Arkansas, Texas Tech vs. Texas, West Virginia vs. Auburn, Louisville vs. Kentucky are all good match-ups that would likely trump the Gophers hosting Cal.
Wisconsin @ Minnesota - THIS is the one, Gopher fans! It isn't the stadium opener but it is the Big Ten opener. And it is a great rivalry that is vastly underappreciated in NCAA football. The games above all are hinged on TCF, but in this case the longest running rivaly in all of college football is equally as compelling as the new stadium. This game gives CDG two great reasons to come up to Minnesota and showcase not only the finest stadium in the country but also one of the preimier rivalries that makes college football so great. Games to contend with? LSU vs. Georgia and USC vs. Cal are two outstanding games that will grab the most headlines. My money wouuld be on USC @ Cal, but I want to strongly urge you Mr. Herbstreit and Mr. Corso to bring your dog and pony show to Dinkytown.
How much fun would it be, Gopher fans, to see Lee Corso putting Goldy's head on as he predicts a Gopher victory. The base of fans behind him would start chanting "Spin your head!"
I know there are those among you who think why on earth would a team like Minnesota EVER be featured on CGD? Well would you be shocked to see that Iowa has been on CGD four times, Purdue three and even Northwestern has appeared on CGD. You don't have to be a top 10 team to be on CGD, every year they show a game for reasons other than a top five match-up (Williams vs. Amherst or Hampton vs. Florida A&M are prime examples over the last two years).
I know the chances are slim, but it would be a lot of fun and this would be a great chance for ESPN to educate college football fans while showcasing the beautiful TCF Stadium.