At it’s absolute best, ESPN’s College GameDay isn’t just a celebration of all that makes the sport great. It’s a window into what the sport means on different campuses around the country. A peek at the personalities, traditions and trends that wills us to get up early every Saturday.
Which is to say that the show has always been less about its (admittedly iconic) hosts than where it ends up each week and what it showcases.
That’s what was so bizarre about watching Pat McAfee, Desmond Howard and the gang air petty grievances on Saturday as the show made its first-ever trip to Duke.
Last week, Washington State head coach Jake Dickert mistakenly bashed Lee Corso for referring to a matchup between the Cougars and Oregon State as the “no one wants us bowl”. Dickert misinterpreted Corso’s comment as the “no one watches bowl” and later called Corso to apologize.
Washington State head coach Jake Dickert said he called Lee Corso, had a good conversation & meant no disrespect to Corso or College Gameday pic.twitter.com/UdtQHBrZGF
— SWXRightNow (@SWXRightNow) September 26, 2023
That should’ve been the end of it. Especially given the fact that ESPN and it’s broadcast competitors are largely to blame for the latest round(s) of conference realignment — namely the destruction of the Pac-12 as we know it.
Instead, GameDay’s McAfee kept punching down on Washington State, whose fans have arguably done more to support the show than any other school.
Earlier this week, Wazzu head coach Jake Dickert and former QB Ryan Leaf criticized College GameDay for turning Oregon State-Washington State into a joke.
Pat McAfee appeared to respond this morning. And then some. pic.twitter.com/3ia6Ze7gko
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) September 30, 2023
Howard then piled on while lashing out at Ohio State head coach Ryan Day for mocking Lou Holtz’s incredibly mundane comments about the Buckeyes ahead of Ohio State’s win at Notre Dame last week.
Sure, it’s not surprising to see McAfee — a pro wrestler at heart — pull out the same hype tactics regularly used by WWE. Nor is it a shock to see Howard, a Michigan alum, go after his school’s biggest rival. But isn’t that kind of the point here? When did GameDay forget it’s the fans that make the show and not the other way around?
This is the same program that built an ad campaign around the fact a Wazzu fan flies the team’s flag at every single GameDay show.
It just all felt… wrong. And many fans around the sport were similarly put off.
That Washington State flag is a staple of college gameday lmao. Anyways BIG Noon Kickoff clears https://t.co/59x8jzQ6eN
— Geoffrey Matthews (@DiamondRunner10) September 30, 2023
I understand defending Corso (they love that man more than life itself, which is great) but Lee already made peace with Dickert and dumping on Wazzu (whose flag flies at all your shows!) after playing a role in killing them is just not appealing https://t.co/IW9a0yxxQt
— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) September 30, 2023
both jake dickert and ryan leaf repeatedly explained, in smart and thoughtful ways, why lee corso’s comment bothered them and wazzu fans. at every step of the way, gameday talent chose to respond by being absolute babies, kicking and screaming. says a lot about where the show is
— Brian Floyd (@BrianMFloyd) September 30, 2023
The love and desire to wave Ol'Crimson shows the love of Washington State and the desire to support their school. If McAfee can't understand that, maybe he needs to be doing something else. College football is not the WWE.#Stockpile
— Brian Stocking (@BrianStocking) September 30, 2023
There’s probably no fanbase that has directly contributed to the culture around GameDay more than Wazzu. Totally unnecessary shots here.
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) September 30, 2023
“Hey man, we know we purposely used our national TV stage to poke fun at your program at a dire time, but did you really have to respond?”
This is so grim https://t.co/tNDIAABfRE
— Greg Woods (@GregWWoods) September 30, 2023