James Franklin, Penn State Football ‘Very Appreciative’ To Welcome ESPN’s College GameDay Back
For the first time ever, ESPN’s College GameDay will come to State College for the third year in a row.
Unlike the show’s visits in 2017 and 2018 — which were set up in front of Old Main — ESPN will set up shop on the HUB Lawn. Fans can watch the show get taped live Saturday morning, but those who want a chance to get in the pit and have their sign shown on national television will need to arrive in the wee hours of the morning.
Saturday’s broadcast will mark the eighth time the show has aired from Penn State. ESPN first “came to our city” in 1997 for a game against Michigan that the Nittany Lions lost 34-8. Penn State’s all-time record with GameDay on campus is 3-4.
Over the show’s past two appearances, the Nittany Lions won the first in 2017 with a dominant 42-13 victory over Michigan, but lost in 2018 to Ohio State in a heartbreaker 27-26 — as if anyone needed a reminder.
James Franklin has obviously had two very opposite outcomes with GameDay in town thus far, but the head coach truly appreciates the opportunity that the show offers and how it reflects on Penn State.
“This is the first time ever that we’ve had GameDay on our campus three years in a row,” Franklin said. “I think that speaks volumes about how people perceive our program right now and what we’re doing.”
PJ Mustipher is also extremely excited to have GameDay in State College. The sophomore defensive tackle has fond memories of watching ESPN on Saturday mornings before college football games started.
“I was one of those people who woke up at like eight, nine in the morning when everybody was still asleep just to be able to watch it because I thought it was so unique,” Mustipher said. “It’s going to be great for this university and the students that they come here this week.”
It’s hard to blame ESPN for wanting to cover the Nittany Lions. They have been ranked in the AP Top 25 poll for 48 straight weeks — the fifth-longest active streak in college football — dating back to 2016 when they climbed their way to national prominence with a massive upset over Ohio State and an eventual Big Ten Championship.
While he knows it helps, Franklin was quick to point out that it’s not just the on-field product that makes ESPN want to come back to Happy Valley. He discussed several other important factors at his weekly press conference Tuesday.
“It’s when [ESPN] comes — how our staff treats them, how our communications staff and marketing staff and how organized we are and how we have things set up. It’s a first-class operation,” Franklin said. “How our fans show up at five in the morning to be out there going crazy, that plays a part in it. If you don’t have those other pieces, the football team and the football program isn’t enough.”
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“Today I can tell you that we’ve had 102 student-athlete tests as of June 30, and we have had zero positives in those 102 tests.”
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