After much fanfare, it was announced Sunday that ESPN’s popular college football pregame show, College GameDay, would not be coming to New Haven for the home game against Army on Sept. 27.
When Missouri lost to Indiana last night, many Yale fans celebrated, thinking that the Tigers’ upcoming game on Saturday against South Carolina would not be considered to host the program as a result. But ESPN still decided on the Southeastern Conference matchup to host the show, which starts at 9:00 a.m. and features many of ESPN’s biggest college football personalities, including Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit.
“Yale would be a fantastic and unique venue for GameDay at any time,” said Yale Associate Athletics Director of Sports Publicity Steve Conn. “The decision not to come here stings a bit because it seemed like the football gods did everything that was needed to have results fall into place in favor of Yale.”
Conn also said that Yale Athletics had been in conversation with ESPN for some time attempting to get GameDay for the matchup. He cited the Hospitality Village, which is next to the Yale Bowl, as the most likely spot for the set.
Students began mobilizing online after Andrew Sobotka ’15, the co-founder of The Whaling Crew — a student fan group — wrote an op-ed that appeared in the News on Sept. 12. The Yale College Council followed suit, coming up with the hashtag “#BringItToTheBowl” and tweeting at the College GameDay account as well as Lee Fitting, a senior producer of GameDay.
“I can’t say I was surprised by the student response on Twitter and on campus — in my three-plus years here I’ve always known that the passion exists, it’s just a matter of getting people to show it,” Sobotka said. “We also know a good party when we see one!”
Even University President Peter Salovey got in on the act, taking a picture with a sign promoting the Yale–Army game. A tweet featuring the picture from the Yale Athletics official Twitter account was retweeted 93 times.
Despite the disappointment of not hosting GameDay, the environment at the game should be exciting on Saturday, according to both Sobotka and Conn.
“Army’s bringing 1,000 cadets, the game ball is going to be parachuted in, non-student attendance will be high — I think it’s going to be an awesome day,” Sobotka said. “I really think the producers at ESPN are missing an incredible opportunity to showcase the history of college football.”
And although Yale was not chosen as the host of this week’s show, Conn said that there is a possibility that GameDay could be in Boston for the 131st playing of The Game on Nov. 22.
The Bulldogs and Black Knights have played each other 45 times, with Yale leading the all-time series 21–16–8. The last matchup, when Army beat Yale 39–13 on Oct. 5, 1996, was the last time an Ivy League team played a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision.