ABC/Disney/ESPN/Cthulu Inc. demands be damned! The Artist Formerly Known as Gameday has loosed itself out of the obligation of flogging the ABC Saturday night game for at least one day as they travel to Gainesville for the Florida/LSU game. In what is becoming an annual post, we review improvements to college football's much-maligned, much-praised, and much-watched flagship preview show. (Besides, you know, more "Lee Corso Is A Penis" signs.)
Yeah. More of that, please.
1. Play up the Depot. Home Depot, who in case you don't know are the Home Depot official sponsors of Home Depot Gameday sponsored by Home Depot and would like to thank the official sponsors of this Home Depot pregame prayer, Home Depot.
Home Depot, when you turn 25, becomes a fascinating wonderland of consumer goods. Saws, drills, hammers, exotic bolts, light fixtures of dubious utility, irrigation piping that would make the Sahara bloom...it's a male spendthrift's nightmare and dreamworld all at once. Men needing only a tube of caulk and a whisk rake have left there bereft of thousands, wondering how in the world they were convinced of the need for a diamond-edged radial saw, two gallons of fifty-dollar "Jaipur Blue" Ralph Lauren house paint, and three gas-powered Honda generators.
Why Gameday hasn't worked power tools and building supplies into a kind of pep challenge is beyond us. Give two preselected teams from opposing unis three hours to build something school-oriented with Home Depot supplies, make them take sobriety tests and sign a boatload of waivers, and see what they make. We're half-joking here, but now that we've typed it, half-serious, too: this could be a hilarious reality show within reality show, so long as no one saws their arm off or starts huffing the spray paint midshow.
Whatever they do, it beats those dorky orange hats.
2. More meat! The fluff pieces are overdone and you can feel them coming a mile away in the program. They've actually done a better job of this over the past year--at least it feels like they have--but the swings around different regional games, the topical interviews, the odd bits of feature story they pile up...more of that, please, and less soft-focus stories of triumph like Matt Leinart's struggle with myopia, the official nadir of Gameday as we know it since it came via the same episode as Nick Lachey's interviews.
3. More local color. If Gameday is about the event, and not the medium, keep opening up the broadcast to the environment. We don't mean lettinig alums grill brats on the dais with the guys--although that might be cool, actually, if also a fire hazard--but more about campus stuff, since most university towns fit the description usually reserved for Madison, Wisconsin of being "70 square miles surrounded by reality." College students are poor, stressed, and looking for any excuse to behave oddly on camera. Allow them to within the restraints of FCC code, and they will do so to extremes. It's what makes the game unique, so use it at every stop.
More Jaworski-ism. Ron Jaworski endeared himself to everyone with half a brain on ESPN by becoming the Richard Attenborough of tape breakdown on Edge NFL Matchup. Watching him delineate the nuance and adjustment of playcalling strategy made your brain audibly pulse with new connections. It's a cerebral approach that sadly has not migrated across the schedule to other ESPN programs. The closest Gameday gets is taking Desmond Howard, putting him on an Astroturf field set up adjacent to the Gameday platform, and then doing something for three minutes.
We say three minutes, but that's a guess. When Howard's on screen, it's kind of like blacking out or having a stroke. We go somewhere else, but we're not sure: Aruba, perhaps, or maybe just a particularly serene corner of our brain where Satie plays while we sip chamomile tea on a giant toadstool. We're really not sure. When Howard stops talking, we snap back into place on our couch, wondering where the time went. It's a little like waking from a mini-seizure, or being used by Travis of the Cosmos as a talking tentacle puppet.
Not sure what happens when Desmond Howard starts talking...but it's nice.
Whatever happens, we're not listening. Put together some other, more compelling way of putting the Xs and Os of the game on display, or just don't do it at all.
Please do not prolong the withering career of Big and Rich another second.
The specialized lyrics may keep them on the ESPN payroll for another year, but the mayfly's life that is their career is done. We have lyrics for their final "special edition" song:
Well we're coming!
And we're shittaayyyyy!
If you wanna little (SPLASH! AIIGGHHHH!!! ROAAAARgggHHHH fip fip fip fip fip fip..aaiiighhn...)
That noise is a shipping container full of hungry, rabid wolverines being dropped on top of the C-list country duo just after being doused in chicken blood. If the budget doesn't allow for this, we'll understand. But after two years, it should be clear that no one wants any more ting in their ting tang, no matter how delightfully suggestive that may sound, since it would involve Big and Rich, whose appearance would serve as a powerful contraceptive to all but the most beer-soaked and undiscriminating brood mare.
We'd swing that wrecking ball toward the nearest firm surface with great velocity.