ESPN’s GameDay show carries high price tag


Every week, ESPN spends that much money to put one school in the national spotlight for a day, according to ESPN GameDay Director Peter Lion.

This week, it’s Bowling Green’s turn.

Lion attributed the Mid-American Conference’s success against nationally ranked schools this season as the reason why ESPN is in BG this week.

“The MAC has been kicking butt the last few weeks,” Lion said. “We actually wanted to go to a MAC game for awhile now and with Northern Illinois and Bowling Green doing very well this year …

This was probably going to be the only opportunity for us to actually come to a MAC game. It was always kind of high on our radar screens and when all the pieces of the puzzle kind of fit into place with other teams losing and making those matchups less appealing. So it was like, ‘yeah let’s pull the trigger and come to Bowling Green.'”

When choosing a location for GameDay, Lion and his crew look for more than the marquee matchup. While the Bowl Championship Series rankings do factor into the decision, Lion said that they also look for sentimental value in the games they choose. Last year they did their show from the Harvard-Pennsylvania Ivy League Championship game and this season they made the trip to Westpoint for an Army game.

“We like to do new and different things that we have never done before,” Lion said. “Clearly we have never come to Bowling Green, so that was also one of the enticing things for being here was; ‘hey we’ve never done it, it seems like a good place to do a show from, let’s hope all the pieces fall together, and they did.'”

In order to make an episode of GameDay possible, Lion and his crew put in an average of 40 hours over two days — the day before and the day of the game. In addition, Lion has people back at ESPN Plaza in Bristol, Conn. planning and preparing for next weeks show while he is on sight preparing for the upcoming event. The biggest reward Lion takes out of all this work is seeing the support of the fans; something he is hoping to see a lot of tomorrow.

“I’m hoping we get them [BG fans] out in droves, I’m hoping there’s a ton of people out here,” Lion said. “One of the things that makes GameDay exciting for us is the fans. If it wasn’t for fan involvement and fans just being a part of the whole atmosphere of the game, it wouldn’t be as much of a fun show to do as being a road show.” This season the GameDay crew will spend every week of the season on the road, something Lion and his crew prefer.

“We can always do a show from Bristol, but it just isn’t the same,” Lion said. “The problem … when we do a Bristol show is that it just sort of lacks the intensity and the energy. The whole crew, everybody from Chris [Fowler], Lee [Corso] and Kirk [Herbstreit] on down just feed off the energy once the show starts and you get that from a crowd. The crowd just kind of ‘geeks you up’ and that’s what we look forward to. What I’m hoping for from the folks here in Bowling Green is that they come out in droves and make the MAC what we hope it is going to be.”

GameDay goes on the air live on ESPN from in front of “the Doyt” tomorrow at 10:30 a.m.