Inside look at Kirk Herbstreit’s insane college football Saturdays

Kirk Herbstreit’s biggest problem on Saturdays is he can’t watch more college football.

It’s a day that starts at 8:30 a.m. ET, no matter what time zone “College GameDay” is broadcasting from that day, and ends well after midnight. And when it ends, Herbstreit could be hundreds or thousands of miles away from where it began.

On Saturday, Herbstreit and the “GameDay” team — Desmond Howard, Lee Corso, Rece Davis and Maria Taylor — will be starting in New York City for the first time, setting up shop outside the “Good Morning America” studios at Broadway and 44th Street. Herbstreit said the idea originated “three to four years ago” with former host Chris Fowler, who lives in the city, and was based on the big-school alumni who migrated to the area.

“Insane,” Herbstreit said of the “GameDay” atmosphere, a show traditionally televised from a college campus. “This is my 22nd year. From when I was first on the show maybe we’d have 1,000 people around, to the point where it’s been up to the last eight to 10 years where it’s 15,000-18,000 people.

“It just depends on where we are, what’s at stake. We try and make it as friendly to the fan that goes and takes the time to show up in terms of a big video and audio board. It’s become an absolute zoo, just a real tailgate party around our set.”

“GameDay” will sometimes shoot from the site of the game Herbstreit will call that night on ESPN or ABC, but not always. If the best game of the day is on CBS or FOX, ESPN will still go to that location for its pregame show. This is a different animal, but presents Herbstreit with the same dilemma. How does he watch all the games he needs to keep track of while flying across the country?

Rece Davis, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Lee Corso and Herbstreit (L-R) take their picks on Tennessee’s campus last season.Getty Images

After “GameDay” goes off the air at noon, Herbstreit, Taylor and senior research producer Chris Fallica will fly from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey on an ESPN-provided plane to Iowa City for the Iowa-Penn State game Saturday night on ABC.

“If there’s anything that’s challenging it’s keeping an eye on everything,” the 48-year-old former Ohio State quarterback said.

“I really pride myself on trying to watch these games live, as opposed to tapes or reading about it. When you already know who wins it gives you a different feel, opposed to when you can watch it live.”

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