Congrats! ESPN College GameDay has announced they are coming to your university.
But what does that mean for you as a display operator? There are two different experiences to CGD, one for football and one for basketball.
For football, CGD tends to be more hands-off concerning the video displays and the actual football stadium. More than likely they will set up somewhere on campus with a picturesque background. Marketing, along with the rest of athletics, will be busy planning and executing the upcoming events for the week, but it will probably be business as usual for you. At some point early in the week, marketing will request CGD events, information and welcome messaging on any (and all) digital signage you operate on campus.
As for requests from ESPN, you will be asked to play a CGD logo on the stadium display(s) that Friday while they shoot some b-roll. Otherwise, they don’t ask for much.
Basketball however is a more unique experience as the Gameday set, crew, and truck are no longer on a random spot on campus, but inside your arena. Similar to football – this will be an all-day affair where their crew will need total access to the building. Therefore, as the in-house producer, you are more involved. ESPN producers will work with your crew, marketing, and facilities staff to coordinate the schedule for the entire day, load-ins and set up on game day itself. You will want to make contact with their production team as soon as possible to iron the details that pertain to you.
For the actual show – the CGD set will be at mid-court with five to seven cameras on the floor. You will need to get a dedicated video feed from the production truck for your video board. ESPN will have total control of that display for the duration of the show and you should not have to worry about coming off that feed at any point for commercial breaks or features. If you have a ribbon board, scorer’s table, or other auxiliary displays, you may receive stock ESPN graphics to load for those specific signs. On the audio side, ESPN will bring their own speaker clusters that will pipe in LIVE audio for the live audience. There may be a possibility you will need to get an audio feed from the truck but most of their required sound will come from their own audio gear.
When it’s game time, ESPN will do another very small pre-game show off the floor as your teams are warming up. This takes place about 30 minutes prior to tip off with a small desk, 3-4 anchors, and lighting. You should proceed with your normal pre-game activities and ESPN should not require anything on your end.
Halftime is very similar to pre-game. CGD talent will come back to their small set-up, break down halftime and roll highlights from across the country. Again they will be off the floor but will have a small desk, lights and three anchors but will remain live the whole time as opposed to tossing it to a studio feed.
The key to succeeding at College GameDay is people, A LOT of people. Keep in mind, these video crews are used to working with university staff and know what you need on the video and graphic side. The better turnouts they have at the bus arrival, Friday look-ins, and pre-records, the more air time your university will receive throughout the weekend. It also helps to be super friendly!
This post was written by Katie and Bryan from Daktronics Event Production.