ESPN College GameDay should be at Army/Navy

Since 1993, ESPN's College GameDay show has visited several locations to present its pre-game telecast. In that time they have seen the pageantry of Northern Illinois versus Bowling Green and the suspense associated with a spring game in Gainesville. It is finally time to bring their production to the best rivalry in football – and for the first time, there is absolutely no excuse not to.

I don't want this column to turn into a debate regarding what is the best rivalry in college football. I know it is Army-Navy, but I am biased. I graduated from the Naval Academy in 1997 and lived through four of the most thrilling football games anyone could ever imagine. Any college football fan would be hard pressed to find more drama in a four-year period of any rivalry in any college sport than what took place between 1993 and 1996 on the first weekend in December. Since Army won all four games, it is still too difficult to relive how each game ended; however, just know that only nine points separated the two rivals…in four years.

 

And if you add the on-the-field suspense of the rivalry during that span to the emotion, tradition, and pageantry that comes with the Army-Navy game, you would be right to be shocked to know that ESPN's College GameDay production has never been to the event.

 

They have been to Hampton versus Florida A&M and Amherst versus Williams, but not Army versus Navy.

 

I guess it is possible to blame Navy for not getting a courtesy visit by the telecast in the recent past. It's pretty common knowledge that Navy has been the king of service academy football for the past six years and they have beaten Army seven straight times. And unlike the close games of the 1990s, the closest game in this recent span of Navy domination was 12 points (26-14 in 2006).

 

However, this year's game has all the makings of a return to the way things were back in the mid-90s. Yes, Navy will be a decent sized favorite, but for the first time since 1996, Army (5-6) has a chance to qualify for a bowl. All they have to do is beat Navy and they go to the EagleBank Bowl. Meanwhile, the Midshipmen will be looking to make a little history of their own as they can become the first service academy to win the Commander in Chief's Trophy outright for seven consecutive years. And if Navy beats Hawaii this Saturday, they will also keep alive the possibility of winning 11 games for the first time in the school's history.

 

So if on-the-field drama with bowl implications is a prerequisite for the College GameDay crew to come to a game, consider that covered this year for Army-Navy.

 

I will save time and just go ahead and say that if off-the-field emotion, tradition, and pageantry are all prerequisites for the College GameDay crew to come to a game that is also covered by Army-Navy…this year and every year.

 

So what else could ESPN need in order to finally give this game the coverage it deserves? How about for the first time in recent memory, the Army-Navy game will be the ONLY FBS game being played that day.  And with the exception of Prairie View A&M versus Alabama A&M, it is currently the ONLY other football game being played on December 12 whose opponents are already known. (Note: A FCS semifinal game will be held that day.)

 

I guess the only possible hurdle for the ESPN crew would be to figure out how to fill the two-hour telecast. I really don't have the answer to that question, but here are some creative ideas:

 

- Talk to the White House and see about getting an interview with the President to talk about the sacrifices of the military. You never know but Mr. Obama may even be at the game…just in case you needed more hype.

 

- Talk to some of your ABC colleagues who have spent time in a war zone recently. I have seen some pretty good coverage on a few of your other platforms. I'm sure you could find a way to tie it in.

 

- As for people who could handle the celebrity prediction portion, well, where do I start? Sen. John McCain, Roger Staubach, and current NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr., are just a few ideas. You did a great job with your Veteran's Day show with Bill Parcells, Bob Knight, and Mike Krzyzewski, so I'm confident you can call on a few favors for this part.

 

- Go to Walter Reed Hospital and do a feature on one of the hundreds of American heroes who were injured fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. I think you will find that there are several who graduated from either West Point or Annapolis. Of course it does not matter if they did or not, but for the purposes of the show, it could be another way to tie everything together.

 

- You could even do a feature on cut blocking in college football. It would be the first feature of its kind and since both Army and Navy would be using the technique in this game it would be a good tie-in. I'm sure you could get some of the coaches of teams Navy, Army, Georgia Tech or Air Force have beaten this year to cry about the LEGAL blocking method used by every college football team in one dimension of the game or another. (Note: Sorry, I got carried away, but I do think it would be a subject worth looking into. I think it could help put an end to a lot of the misinformation out there. Heck, you could demonstrate the difference between a cut block and a chop block on Coach Corso.)

 

Doing all that will probably still leave you all with about 30-45 minutes to preview the BCS championship game. Or you could put a panel together to debate how to fix the BCS system, especially if college football ends up with four undefeated teams at the end of the season.

 

I'm sure you will figure something out. But please, don't figure out how to get out of bringing College GameDay to yet another Army-Navy game. I promise you, you will not regret it.

 

 

 


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