TIMMINS: Virginia deserves to be the latest destination for ESPN’s College GameDay

The world deserves to see Lee Corso in a Cavalier mask

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And where has College GameDay not come? They’ve never travelled to Scott Stadium in Charlottesville. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

When Virginia football downed William & Mary 52-17, launching them to No. 25 in the AP Poll, it was the earliest the Cavaliers had been ranked in a season since 2005. From higher attendance numbers to consecutive weeks in the top 25, Virginia football has made strides in the 2019 season. 

However, even as they are currently tied for first in the ACC Coastal Division, there is one thing the Cavaliers have yet to accomplish — be featured on ESPN’s College GameDay program.

College GameDay is a pre-game show broadcast by ESPN that focuses on a featured college football game every week. In fact, the show is hosted on the campus of the home team playing in that game.  

Hosts Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Rece Davis — along with a celebrity guest — offer analysis of the day’s games, interact with fans and finish with a specific prediction for the featured game. During this infamous segment, Corso dons the headgear of the team’s mascot that he predicts will win the game. 

The requirements for the featured game include a Saturday kickoff, typically at night, as well as excitement and significance.

So where has College GameDay graced with their presence? They’ve hosted Ohio State a record 18 times, followed by Alabama, Florida and LSU 13 times. In total, 91 schools have appeared on the show. 

And where has College GameDay not come? They’ve never travelled to Scott Stadium in Charlottesville.

Virginia has Cav Man galloping across the field, the Good Ol’ Song and near-constant tributes to the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship. What more could College GameDay want? 

On a more serious note, Virginia is one of only 10 schools from a Power 5 football conference yet to host College GameDay. The Cavaliers are joined by Minnesota, Maryland, Duke, Wake Forest, UC Berkeley, Syracuse, Illinois, Kansas and Rutgers. 

Syracuse was ranked No. 22 in preseason polls, but fell out of the top 25 by week 3. UC Berkeley was also briefly ranked in weeks 4 and 5, as was Wake Forest in weeks 6 and 7. Maryland was ranked No. 21 in week 3. 

Though Virginia fell out of the top 25 after a road loss to Miami this past week, the Cavaliers were still ranked for five consecutive weeks and could move back into the top 25 with a home win against Duke Saturday. 

In other words, Virginia held a position in the top 25 for longer than any of its other GameDay-scorned counterparts. 

It’s worth noting that GameDay’s successful college basketball spin-off has visited John Paul Jones Arena four times since the program’s inception in 2005 — once every year since 2015. Clearly, ESPN has nothing against the Cavaliers themselves. 

While Virginia was struggling with attendance for home games as recently as 2017, attendance numbers have skyrocketed this season. According to Virginia Athletics, the opening home game against William & Mary saw the highest student attendance since 2008, and that record could be surpassed later this season with Virginia Tech coming to Charlottesville Nov. 29. 

A notable opportunity missed by GameDay was the Virginia victory against Florida State Sept. 14, which coincided with the raising of the NCAA National Championship banner and was attended not only by large amounts of students but also by former Virginia men’s basketball guard Kyle Guy and former Virginia defensive end Chris Long. 

The Cavaliers’ matchup with Duke this weekend would have been another fine opportunity as both teams are tied at the top of the ACC Coastal. However, ESPN chose to feature the Michigan and Penn State game instead.

Additionally, Virginia hasn’t defeated Virginia Tech since 2003 and, with both teams currently sitting at 4-2 overall, their regular season finale is sure to be a nail-biter. However, with the game happening on a Friday, it is ineligible for College GameDay. 

ESPN’s dismissal of the Duke and Florida State games makes a 2019 GameDay trip to Charlottesville unlikely. Nevertheless, College GameDay’s disregard for Virginia football shouldn’t go unnoticed. Virginia’s historic start to the season, combined with an exciting team, electrifying atmosphere and unpredictable division, makes it a clear candidate to host College GameDay soon.

Maybe that means next season Virginia fans will finally get to see Corso put on Cavalier headgear. 

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