College GameDay is a college football institution, making hundreds of visits to dozens of schools across the country, promoting the sport and itself at the same time. The show traffics in the mainstream -- Ohio State has hosted 18 times -- and the obscure, with stops at places like Florida A&M, Williams College and, last Saturday, South Dakota State.
Ten Power 5 schools have yet to host the show, and one of them has a great opportunity to finally get in on the action in two weeks. Minnesota, ranked No. 13 in the AP poll and 8-0 for the first time since 1941, is set to host No. 5 Penn State on Nov. 9. It'll be the Gophers' biggest home game in more than 50 years.
Biggest game in half a century on a campus that's never hosted GameDay? That's the exact type of environment GameDay lives to document, so what's the issue? In fact, both Minnesota and Penn Stat are off this week, so why hasn't ESPN made plans to be in Minneapolis on Nov. 9 already?
Well, there's a small problem. Actually, it's a very big problem.
To make its maiden voyage to Minneapolis, GameDay would have to skip college football's first regular season AP No. 1 vs. AP No. 2 game in eight years. That's also the type of game GameDay was born to document.
Still, Minnesota isn't letting that stop them.
Gophers head coach PJ Fleck, who actually got Western Michigan to host GameDay in 2016, stumped for the show to skip Tuscaloosa for the Twin Cities.
"We have 4 million people that live in the Twin Cities area. We are the only Division I school in the state of Minnesota. Everybody here is Gophers," Fleck said, at his all time Fleck-iest. "All due respect to Alabama and LSU, you can go to them any year. Pick a year. Pick a game. You can go to them every game of the season if you would like. College GameDay is about unique stories, unique places, about unique moments. That's what they say they're about. And I'm not going to say they're not if they don't come here because I think that would be bad, but when I was a college player, the first College GameDay show to come to the MAC was Bowling Green-Northern Illinois and I was involved. The second time I had an experience with College GameDay was when I was at Ohio State. The third time was when they came to this little town called Kalamazoo, Michigan, for the Western Michigan Broncos, and had one of the best experiences of their entire life.
And if I could tell ESPN, believe me, trust me, you come to the Twin City area, you come to the University of Minnesota, for an undefeated Penn State team, and undefeated Minnesota Golden Gopher team, to a Twin City area where they host a Super Bowl, a Final Four, next is GameDay. That's why I think they should come here."
It's funny, GameDay began as a vehicle to promote the game of college football, its schools, its personalities and the stories therein. But now the show has become such an institution the schools, the players and the coaches use themselves as a promotional vehicle to get on the show.
Short of moving Penn State-Minnesota up a week to eliminate the conflict altogether, pitching themselves like this is Minnesota's only choice. And you know what? It just might work.