Yesterday ESPN College Gameday came to the University of Houston for the very first time. Kirby and I went up to campus to check out the festivities, as they were.
Early in the morning, some posters on UH message boards were wringing their hands about what the perceived as a "sparse" crowd behind the College Gameday set, which they felt looked bad on television. However, by by the time we got there shortly after 10 am, the crowd was pretty decent.
Here's another view of the crowd right behind the College Gameday set. Houston's cheerleaders were prominently featured, but SMU's cheer squad was also in attendance made it on TV as well. Kirby poses in front of the famous ESPN College Gameday bus.
This is as close as I could get to the set itself. That's Lee Corso on the left and Kirk Herbstreit on the right.
One more crowd shot. The maroon Washington State flag in the center somehow makes its appearance at every ESPN College Gameday show every Saturday.
In a moment that will go down in University of Houston Cougar lore, at the conclusion of the broadcast Lee Corso uttered an expletive before he put on the Shasta head and predicted Houston to defeat Southern Methodist. We weren't standing in front of a speaker, so we didn't hear it at the time (which is probably a good thing for Kirby's sake), but the incident quickly made it on to YouTube. The reaction from the rest of the ESPN crew (as well as UH track legend Carl Lewis, seen wearing red in the picture above) is priceless (language warning):
Corso later went back on television and apologized for his outburst.
The Cougar nation also got some national props for "the coolest kid ever," the son of a former UH player who dressed up as the Heisman Trophy.
As it turned out, Corso's profanity-laced prognostication was correct. That afternoon, the Cougars convincingly defeated SMU, 37-7, to notch their eleventh straight victory of the season. This Friday the Cougars will square off against Tulsa, with the winner capturing the Conference USA Western Division.
Only time will tell when, or even if, ESPN College Gameday makes another visit to the University of Houston campus. But yesterday's event was a real treat, and the publicity was a real boon to the school, its students, its fans and its football program. Go Coogs!