BOZEMAN — Saturday was a historic morning in Bozeman as thousands of fans showed up to watch - and be part of - ESPN's College Gameday, the first time the iconic college football pregame show has come to Montana.
The 3-hour broadcast started at 7:00 a.m. locally, just as the sun as starting to peak over the mountains, though most fans arrived much earlier.
"We got here at about 3:00 a.m.," said a pair of Cats fans in the crowd. "It was about -5 degrees."
The temperature was the story. Host Rece Davis said it’s the coldest College Gameday in history. Most of the on-air guys were doing all they could to stay warm. Montanans know the drill though.
"Hand warmers and long underwear," one pair of Montana State alumni said.
They showed up to catch a glimpse of new Gameday personality Jess Sims, who interviewed Cats head coach Brent Vigen about an hour into the broadcast. Many more were excited to see new analyst Pat McAfee - a lot of the famous Gameday signs were directed at him. Everybody had a favorite.
"I like the sign that says, ‘If you can read this, you didn’t go to the University of Montana,'" said one Cats fan.
Lee Corso also made his Gameday return after a several week absence. He donned a Montana State mascot head at the end of the broadcast, signaling his pick to win Saturday's 121st edition of the Brawl of the Wild. Only McAfee picked the Montana Grizzlies to win.
PBR Entertainer and Montana native Flint Rasmussen was spotted backstage before the show began, fueling speculation that he would be the show's Celebrity Guest Picker.
"They said, 'We want you on the show in some aspect,' so I'm doing a little segment, but I am not the guest picker," he said with a sigh.
The picker ended up being legendary golfer Nick Faldo, who is a new Bozeman resident. Let’s just say it’s not the person many Montanans would have chosen.
"I’m sure Nick Faldo is a nice guy," Rasmussen said, "but I’m not gonna tell (him) about hitting a nice 8-iron or a nice wedge out of the sand. I don’t want (him) telling me about football."
Overall, the show was a success, and Montanans showed up as they always do.
"It's cool to see a bunch of Montana people be represented on a national stage," one fan said. "It's legendary. They gotta come back again next year."
The campaign starts now.