Not So Fast ESPN’s College GameDay

November 18, 2018

NOTE: This is the complete analysis blog as created to support my summary blog released on  on or about November 18, 2018 – charts in this blog can best be seen in the gallery display as attached to the end of this blog.

ESPN celebrated their 25th anniversary on November 13th of the rebranded 1993 version of College GameDay, built by Home Depot, (CGD) which provides a broadcast of news and analysis of national in season college football games on Saturdays from 9AM to 12 noon. Over the years I have enjoyed following this cable program. Even SiriusXM satellite radio allows me to tune in CGD on ESPNU as I drive to College Park, MD for the inevitable noon kickoffs.

Last Saturday morning (11/10) as I twirled my yellow #2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencil watching the hosts (Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack, Maria Taylor and producer Chris Fallica) recollect on CGD’s storied past, I wondered why my beloved Maryland Terrapins have never hosted nor appeared on a College GameDay. Hosting is the real deal here for the home team. Using that pencil I (re)discovered, that ESPN has a B1G, BAD, b-EAST preference, or dare I say, a bias?

Well Phil, my readers will write me, that’s nothing new ESPN has had this preference for the big and bad EAST Coast teams dating back to the early days of CGD, aka, broadcasting multiple games between University of Miami, Florida State, Florida and even Virginia Tech. Then they learned around 2004 that good football could be found elsewhere especially on the West Coast in the PAC-10. Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, USC and UCLA, stepped in when the shine came off of Miami’s program. Meanwhile, ESPN CGD featured the POWER 5 Conferences (B1G, ACC, SEC, PAC-10 and Big 12) CGD Bowl Championship Series (BCS) better known as Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) matchups only occasionally veering off course to bring in other Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) games featuring James Madison, Richmond and Yale to name a few.ESPN College Game Days 1993-2018

Where does that leave Maryland?

Basically, the Terps missed out of all of the 718 potential CGD matchup opportunities in the last 25 years. Some of those opportunities include the traditional Army-Navy games, post season playoffs and BCS bowl games (about 56 of them). If you only look at regular season play it had 606 potential CGD opportunities.

Sitting up, I sharpened my #2 pencil. What exactly does this mean going forward for the next 25 years? More of the same old, same old? Will Maryland ever host? Let alone appear?


In time, I will clarify this B1G, BAD, b-EAST perception and what this means to Maryland but begin first with this fact. Maryland is not alone in this perceived over look of POWER 5 teams. They have company in both the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and B1G Ten Conference (B1G). Since Maryland’s football history melds with CGD’s 25-year history let’s concentrate on the ACC and B1G conferences where the Terps regular season overlaps both conferences. I am only making a case for the Terps.

ESPN’s CGD has during the 1993 to present day era never covered an appearance or traveled to host ACC members located at Maryland, Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest and now B1G members Minnesota and Rutgers. (Note: Iowa State in the Big 12 is also a member of this elite overlooked group). Maryland and Rutgers, in 2014, switched conference alignment joining the B1G and ended up in its Eastern division (b-EAST), more on that later.

Before we get started let’s not muddy the analysis with the 2018 Jordan McNair tragedy since it does not reflect on the Terps past football performance though it will certainly be impactful going forward. Additionally, keep in perspective that student-athlete / athletic controversies existed during this CGD era at other B1G schools in such places as Michigan State (Larry Nassar), Penn State (Jerry Sandusky) and Ohio State (Zach Smith). They all continued to play winning and losing football games while they appeared/hosted in ESPN CGD games.

I think that it is a no-brainer that Maryland would host an immediate future ESPN CGD event.

A hopeful rationale, justification, is that ESPN has featured and will continue to do so, those B1G, BAD b-EAST teams in the B1G Ten conference. Consequently, for Maryland’s football fandom logic, our time must be right around the corner. Though, I don’t have a good feeling about that.

So why does ESPN not feature them? Perhaps it is that the show’s weekly travel logistics, competitor TV contracts, national long-term contract scheduling, national/regional audience appeal, athletic department(s) reluctance to commit necessary support or any and all of the above that never coalesce into action. Let the Washington Post or NY Times figure that out, though at the moment they have a lot on their plates, it’s pro football season.

Perhaps it’s just the luck of the draw. But that reasoning does not hold up over a 25-year time frame across two POWER 5 conferences given a roulette wheel’s spinning chance of landing on one of those 606 opportunities to appear or host CGD.  That roulette wheel has a preference.

In an effort to make logical comparisons I kept CGD appearances and hosted numbers to current conference alignments. However, I removed Notre Dame from some comparisons since they are an Independent Football school (and have a multi-million dollar NBC TV contract). The Irish play 5 ACC football teams annually so that they can benefit from an ACC conference alignment in the other collegiate sports. Don’t ask, it is just the way it is.

Look at the ACC portion of the chart for the CGD era and then correlate the ACC’s original members who had 60 appearances since 1993 then compared them to the newer and remaining members who only had 45. Favoritism, perhaps? However, remove Miami’s and VA Tech’s appearances before 2004, 12 and 5, respectively, and you have an alignment of just Clemson and Florida State gaining the CGD’s audience eyeballs. Maryland, as well as, Duke, Virginia and Wake Forest played these same teams during the era and regardless of their win-loss records never appeared.

So, in 2012 Maryland announces they were leaving the ACC and moving literally to greener pastures with the B1G conference. Terps fandom suffered miserably with the turmoil and excitement till their conference debut in 2014. Years later many still question that ACC buyout decision ($50M) despite the promise of B1G revenue growth. Athletic leadership changes continued, a root source of today’s problems, to rock the Terps after 2014 even up to the present day. Not a great pitch for catching cable TV eyeballs on Saturday mornings.

Perhaps you think that Maryland has under-performed in football. Or that it’s just a basketball (and Lacrosse) school that exhibits difficulty with the football-centrist culture.  Gosh, they (today, 11/17/18) took #10 Ohio State into overtime and lost on a gutsy 2 point conversion play losing 52-51.  A weak OSU team or a surprising resilient Maryland team, your choice.

Maryland during the CGD era has a won-lost record of 145 to 165, a winning percentage of .467. The Terps most consistent winning seasons were under Ralph Friedgen from 2001 to 2010, at 75-50, it was smack dab in the middle of the ACC’s 2004 conference alignment when they added BC, Miami and VA Tech. Lee Corso, one of the featured analysts on CGD was a former UMD coaching assistant from 1959 to 1965. He had hand in crafting future Maryland greatness as he recruited Friedgen in high school to come play for Maryland in the early 1960’s. Friedgen, 31 years later in 2001, became head football coach at Maryland. Success on the field can and has occurred in College Park.

Compiled from

Over time, ESPN did not always pick the close game matchups. Looking at the CDG Game Under / Over 21 Chart, 89 of 303 (29%) appearances during the regular season games played were blowouts, by my definition of losing by 3 touchdowns or more. By the way, just because CGD shows up at a school to host an event does not mean that they broadcast that game. They came to throw a party for that high-profile matchup. Apart from the fact that a CGD event does not always deliver football drama it does excite the fans, and this is an ingredient that Maryland needs so desperately right now.

Consider too, that ESPN CGD does not just stick with intra conference matchups, rather spreading fan-based excitement to inter conference games as they reacted to the POWER 5 conferences search for building credible winning resumes for post season bowl (BCS) seeding. [See chart below}

The B1G Conference placed Maryland and Rutgers, the two no shows on ESPN CGD, into the biggest and baddest divisional alignment, the B1G EAST (b-EAST). If you thought that ESPN had an east coast preference in the ACC, well think again, because they just love Mid-America, in Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State and to a lesser degree Wisconsin. [See chart below on ESPN CGD}

How skewed is the B1G in CGD hosting and appearance?

Sharpening the pencil, I did the math once again while considering the impact of adding University of Nebraska in 2011 to the B1G conference. Of the 153 B1G team appearances 138 or 76% belong to the BIG, BAD, b-EAST division. After we negate Nebraska’s Big-12 conference CGD appearances (15 of the 16) it leaves only Wisconsin with any leverage in the B1G West division.

Maybe that bodes well for the Terps, their chances of showing up on CGD statistically improved since they have to play EAST division teams on a regular basis but how did that work out in the past with the ACC. Not so good, one would say. Maybe ABC and ESPN will even audition Maryland with a tease of some mid-afternoon games to test their audience appeal. Frankly, it’s all about the Terp fandom.

What could possibly Maryland bring to the attention of ESPN? How about the number of branded sponsor Home Depot locations in the District, Maryland and Virginia (DMV) area that are within 50 miles of the College Park football stadium? How about the rest of B1G Conference what do they look like?

Based on a zip code search of a radius from campus centers using Home Depots, Near Me, location engine.

The branding significance of ESPN’s College GameDay, built by Home Depot may not take on much meaning in the daily life of college students but to alumni graduates, the adults who own or rent homes, a local Home Depot may just be that weekend destination when they’re not watching college football. So, reflecting on the chart , consider when Ohio State and Penn State, crafted to look like later day football rivals, play one another on that CGD stage, as they have 6 times since PSU joined the conference. Home Depot is appealing to the captured local alumnus, to visit one of a combined total of 16 Home Depot retail locations.  Perhaps, and this is a stretch, that the national Saturday morning target audience is less engaged due to time zone broadcast differentials.

Now Home Depot, more than ever, should see College Park, Maryland’s future role, in ESPN’s CGD in a different light. A light that reflects on their investment in 43 nearby retail locations.

Eventually in National Landing, VA, Amazon’s HQ2 will be located only 17 miles away from Capital One Stadium at Maryland Stadium. It may be just a bit easier for DMV B1G alumnus and future UMD undergrads to consider ordering hammers, nails, toilet plungers, ceiling lights and potted plants on line with possible same day local delivery as fulfilled from Amazon’s new 1.3M SQFT Sparrows Point, MD distribution center, 1 of 4  centers in Maryland, rather than drive to a nearby Home Depot. Planning and acting on the next 25 years of CGD begins this week. Planning a date for hosting in College Park should be at the top of that agenda.

On September 28, 2019 it’s Penn State at Maryland, that might just be a good point for a fresh 25 year start.

It’s a B1G home game for us and a historic rivalry game that spans 41 contests going all the way back to 1917. There is a lot of drama between these two border states separated by the Mason-Dixon Line. Plus, this game matchup would fit in with that BIG, BAD and b-EAST team preferences, as known for the B1G East division.

Maryland has a rich history of student-athlete champions, special coaches and championships, it is this connection to what makes many fall, winter and spring Saturday’s great for Terp fans.

How about considering men’s national champions just among those B1G East division rivals?

Reflectively, it’s circles back to Coach Lee Corso and his #2 Dixon Ticonderoga pencils, who strangely enough sits in a unique centered position on the College GameDay stage, the one built by Home Depot. He has history in College Park.

Coach might think of a Maryland CGD game as a homecoming of sorts, a vacation to the Free State, the Land of Pleasant Living, a trip back for the best crab cakes. It might be just that opportunity to show the students and alumni his Maryland Pride or what’s left of it before it is too late. He made a difference then and affected in a positive manner the lives of many student-athletes that came later. What’s needed now, in my humble opinion, is a sun streak of leadership, a cheerleader, someone with a little cagey laugh at one’s self, all to reflect upon what makes Terps proud, excited once again and most of all, respected.

The visual moving symbol of ESPN’s College Game Day is a bus. It is loaded with the on-air talent as it arrives at that next college campus CGD event. In a daydream, I saw the Coach grab the steering wheel of that bus and headed it north on I-95 towards Washington DC. “Only in your dreams, Phil” my followers will write.  I say, to imagine you need to suspend reality, to accomplish you need to embrace both.

The reality is that it takes a strategic collaboration of many individuals, players, academics, sponsors, and yes, broadcast executives to disperse the clouded perception over the Maryland football program.  The team is doing its’ part – just look at how they performed against Ohio State on November, 17. They played the 2018 season against much adversity.

One fan based event will not change perceptions as one step in a race does not finish a marathon, it takes teamwork, perseverance and a dream.

So let’s say Coach Corso you come to Maryland.  If you it do, I can see the College Park locals opening the doors for you and your co-host friends to have a peak at the new Center for Sports Medicine, Health and Human Performance at Cole Field House. Maybe we could find a guest host who can speak in endearing terms about the Terps game day chances, know anybody? Maybe the student fans will let you try on Testudo’s mascot head or uncover you wearing a pair of Maryland Pride gym shorts, what a thrill that would be for your bio-log.

Perhaps, at this dream homecoming Coach, you will have some time to show off the house that you helped to build.

“Not so fast, young man” he says, “you best order enough crab cakes because I’m bringing Rece, Kirk and the rest of the crew.”

References: facts, statistics, time frames all accumulated by internet searches of websites that include WikiPedia, Google, NCAA Division 1, Home Depot and numerous ACC and B1G conference sites.

Phil Fabrizio  – as previously posted on mymcmedia.or
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