BOZEMAN — The set is built and the stage is set for ESPN to debut College GameDay in the Treasure State.
Montana and Montana State will square off Saturday in the 121st football meeting between the schools, with kickoff scheduled for noon. But GameDay will hit the airwaves at 7 a.m. from Dyche Field across from Bobcat Stadium to broadcast its wildly popular pregame show from the state of Montana for the first time. A social media campaign to bring GameDay to Montana began last season, and it was announced earlier this week that the show had chosen Bozeman.
The GameDay crew arrived on Thursday, and their bus was led down Main Street in Bozeman by the Montana State rodeo team. GameDay's arrival has been met with fanfare all week.
GameDay producer Lindsey Lloyd, host Rece Davis and on-air colleagues Desmond Howard and David Pollack met the media on Friday to discuss their visit.
“By far one of the best bus arrivals that we’ve ever had," Lloyd said told reporters. "One of the longer ones that we’ve ever had. First time I believe we’ve ever had horses — 18 at that — so it was incredible to have that welcome.”
“It’s the coolest thing because you like the novelty of it. You know what I mean?” Howard said. “You got to so many places. It’s the same old, same old, but when you have something like that — that’s new, that’s fresh — we just love it. We get excited about it, and what it does is it shows our audience a different part of the culture of this program, and that’s what we love to do — share the culture of different programs.”
Going to new venues has been a theme this fall for College GameDay: They visited Kansas in Week 7 and also made a trip to Jackson State of the FCS in Week 10.
Even though this is the first time the ESPN crew has set foot in Montana, it’s been a visit years in the making.
”I think about the social media reaction the last two years because it’s been crazy how much we get hit up with it, and honest to God, I think that’s a big reason why we’re here,” Pollack said. “When you know somebody is that passionate, you know they’re going to show out because listen we go all over the country and we look for scenes. Sure yes, but we’re also looking for scenes that are different and unique.”
Davis shared that the idea of coming to Montana for the 121st Brawl of the Wild was a leader in the clubhouse late last week — and a big reason for that was the big push on social media by the Big Sky Conference.
“When you start hiring actors to come do a protest in front of ESPN and you have apparently some talented thespians within the conference office,” Davis said. ”You get attention, but you have to have a good product right and they have a tremendous product. I mean they have a chance to get half a dozen teams in the playoffs? Maybe?’
But the other major factor was just simply the history behind one of college football’s oldest rivalries.
“There’s a good chance we’ll be at Ohio State Michigan, which is the game, and they haven’t played as many times as Montana and Montana State,” Pollack said. ”That’s pretty dang cool. Bedlam’s this week with Oklahoma-Oklahoma State – haven’t played as many times. The Red River Rivalry with Texas and OU, so I think it’s just fun to put spotlights on different rivalries that have existed for a long time and again you want to show a different part of the country with passion.”