The Yale-Harvard Game is currently being considered for this week’s ESPN College GameDay telecast, but many Yalies say they are skeptical that hosts Chris, Kirk and Lee will actually be on the field Saturday.
The success of the Yale and Harvard football teams this season — both are entering Saturday’s matchup undefeated in the Ivy League — has prompted some members of the Yale community to seek more extensive media coverage for The Game.
In the buildup to the network’s announcement of which game it will cover — expected Monday or Tuesday — students have formed a Facebook group. And officials in the Athletics Department have aggressively lobbied ESPN to bring its cameras to the Yale Bowl on Saturday.
ESPN College GameDay is a weekly program featuring analysis and extensive coverage of a high-profile college football matchup. It is broadcast live from the game.
Yale students — identified in the subject line as the “Yale Community” — received a mass e-mail Sunday afternoon urging them to e-mail ESPN public relations and request coverage of The Game at the Yale Bowl on Saturday. The game between University of Michigan and Ohio State University rivalry is usually the frontrunner for coverage on this weekend every year, but the teams are not undefeated this year, Yale sports publicity director Steve Conn said.
The sender of the e-mail is unknown. Fullback Shebby Swett ’09, administrator of the newly created Facebook group “Bring College GameDay to Yale for The Game,” which is referenced in the e-mail, said he was uninvolved.
“We were on the bus joking around about a Facebook group, so I created it,” Swett said. “And when I came back from football meetings, there were over 400 members.”
Administrators in the Yale Athletics Department have been working with other Ivy League athletic directors in recent weeks to lobby ESPN for GameDay coverage, Conn said.
In their appeals to ESPN, the Ivy League athletic directors are emphasizing that Yale and Harvard are both entering the game undefeated and that the 2002 matchup between Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania achieved the highest ratings in the show’s history.
Swett said the presence of ESPN cameras on field would increase the excitement on game day.
“It would make any Yalie proud to see the GameDay hosts talking about our football game,” Swett said. “It would be a great thing for Yale.”
As of Sunday night, over 800 students had joined the Facebook group.
But some Athletics Department employees said they think last weekend’s game between Amherst and Williams colleges has filled the network’s “quirky” quota for the year.
“This weekend’s coverage of the Amherst-Williams game doesn’t help our case because we know they pick one wildcard-type place to go and that was it,” Conn said.
This fact has not stopped Ivy League athletic directors from using all available resources to attempt to secure College GameDay for Saturday’s competition, Conn said. Directors have been calling the ESPN offices, and Yale Athletic Department student employees have written a letter urging ESPN to come to New Haven.
“We’re pulling out all stops because the last time we were 6-0 going in was 1968, and that’s only happened four times ever in the league itself,” Conn said.
ESPN’s coverage of the game would create valuable publicity for the Ivy League’s athletic endeavors and would provide opportunities for more exposure in the future, Conn said.
But Elah Lanis ’10 said she is not convinced that College GameDay would significantly impact the atmosphere at the Yale Bowl.
“I don’t think it would change anything because the game is pretty wild anyway,” she said. “It might just make pre-game more fun.”
Kate Crandall ’06 said although she hopes the campaign will be successful, she has heard from sources at Ivy League Sports — an independent sports-publicity Web site that covers the Ancient Eight — that ESPN will most likely not cover the game.
“Someone at Ivy League Sports said they had been lobbying for weeks to get the game on GameDay, but they said they had already lost the fight,” she said.
Yale is 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the Ivy League, and Harvard is 7-2 overall and 6-0 in the Ivy League. ESPN College GameDay airs Saturdays at 10 a.m.