On the Set of ESPN College GameDay

Here’s the first spot in this year’s campaign for College Gameday.

After fifteen years working on ESPN, sometimes you forget just how much damn fun this piece of business is. This shoot helped remind me. In addition to having three of college football’s premier coaches Nick Saban, Mack Brown and Chris Petersen, we had all the biggest mascots — Florida, Georgia, Oregon and, um, Williams.

This is always one of my favorite shoots of the year because I genuinely feel like I’m friends with the talent and they’re always excited about the work we do for the show and eager to see what we have in store for them each year. In a lot of ways, it’s actually like writing a sitcom or a film, where each of the hosts becomes a character with certain traits that you find yourself writing to. Lee Corso is as good as they come at doing the broad, physical stuff, so we inevitably give him every one of those roles and then have to dial back to avoid the campaign becoming too Lee-centric. Chris Fowler is the best straight man I’ve ever worked with. Honestly, he can do as much with a look or a comment under his breath as any comedic actor. (Side note: Chris scripts the entire show on a set of note cards and has an almost Goodwill Hunting-like ability to remember and relay details.) Kirk Herbstreit plays a fantastic common man — he’s comes across incredibly sincere and likeable because, well, he is. And Desmond Howard has this great playful and mischievous quality that adds tons of energy to every spot he’s in. Half the time, Desmond is genuinely splitting a gut laughing while we’re shooting, which makes the spots feel a lot more real and sincere.

There will be a total of ten commercials and a bunch of really cool Facebook apps and other stuff I’ll try to mention later. Here’s the first spot though. A bunch of people had a hand in creating the campaign: Dan McCormack, Michael Boychuk, Ramon Tapales, Anthony Walker and Julia Regan. It just so happens that the first spot and the only one we can share at the moment is one I wrote. It tries to capture the competitive nature and one-upsmanship displayed by Mack Brown and Nick Saban in everything they do.

Hopefully, the work will continue to strike a chord with college football fans, ratings for the show will once again break records and I’ll continue to get paid to do a job I’d probably do for free. (Please don’t mention this last bit to the folks in procurement at Disney.)

Next up, college basketball.

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