In the hours leading up to Saturday’s game between seventh-ranked Notre Dame and 17th-ranked Stanford, college football fans nationwide will be watching the action outside Notre Dame Stadium.
That’s because ESPN’s popular pregame show, “College GameDay,” will be broadcasting live from the lawn between the stadium and the Hesburgh Library.
GameDay last visited South Bend in 2005 when the Irish played USC in the infamous “Bush Push” game. This will be the program’s eighth visit here.
John Heisler III, senior associate athletics director for Notre Dame, said the university was excited to learn GameDay, which moves weekly from campus to campus, would be visiting.
“It’s obviously a great honor,” Heisler said. “It’s also a little bit of a throwback because Notre Dame was the first place College GameDay ever came when they took their show on the road (in 1993).”
Saturday’s live broadcast will begin at 9 a.m. on ESPNU and then from 10 a.m. to noon on ESPN.
“Last time they were here in 2005 they were located just north of the stadium and south of the library ... and it became pretty apparent they were very interested in that same location,” Heisler said. “That’s where we want them to be as well. The library is behind them, it’s a great shot and it certainly says ‘Notre Dame.’”
The crew began setting up early Thursday morning, Heisler said, in order to be prepared to tape certain segments of the show today.
“Mike and Mike” is hosted by Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, a former Notre Dame football player whose sons Jake and Mike Jr. are current players on the team.
Also part of today’s festivities on campus will be the 6 p.m. pep rally in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center.
Saturday morning, fans will be admitted to “the pit,” the area where individuals can view the broadcast and attempt to be seen on television, beginning at 7 a.m.
“We will allow them to come in at 7 with their signs, and they will be screened prior to entry into the pit,” Bob Scholz, a member of the ESPN security team, said Thursday. “The ushers will pat them down.”
Forbidden items in the pit include backpacks, bags, lighters, pens, bottles, cans and objects that could be used as projectiles, Scholz said.
Students also will not be admitted with signs on poles or signs with political or obscene messages.
Scholz said the pit, which is located behind the set facing the stadium, can hold about 450 students.
“They come and go during the show so it’s a continuous cycle,” he said. “I would just get here early. We will have an area where the line will start and we’ll let people in and follow the line up the sidewalk.”
The decision of whether to allow students to camp out overnight to ensure a spot in the pit is left up to the university, Scholz said, and Notre Dame has chosen to allow it.
The university has mainly been assisting ESPN with logistical aspects of the operation, such as parking and office space, Heisler said.
The College GameDay on-air lineup includes host Chris Fowler, analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack, and host/reporter Samantha Steele and Tom Rinaldi.
It’s a homecoming of sorts for Rinaldi, a former reporter for WNDU-TV.
“It’s almost a Hollywood production in some ways in terms of the sheer scope of what they’re doing and the size of their footprint,” Heisler said. “Our job is to make it as smooth as possible.”
Staff writer Melissa Flanagan: email@example.com