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Could College GameDay Come to Purdue?

Chances are slim, but it’s better than 0% at the moment.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With the Purdue/Ohio State kickoff time announcement today, talk began on whether Purdue would host ESPN’s College GameDay that morning. Unlike the basketball version of GameDay, which is not only dictated by tip-off times, but also network coverage (almost always the featured game is on ESPN after 4pm), the football version of game day typically visits the highest profile match that Saturday, and makes their announcement a week before.

Though Purdue is not ranked, and may only have a 0.500 record at best going into this match-up, there is still a good amount of hype going into this game as Brohm continues to improve the program. It also helps that, unlike another team in Indiana that thinks they can scare Ohio State, Purdue has actually beaten Ohio State 4 times since 2000 (only Penn State has more wins against OSU in that span).

But at the same time, we need to know what Purdue is up against that weekend when it comes to GameDay. While a 7:30 kickoff on ABC would seem like a guarantee, that is hardly ever the case. After all, just this past weekend College GameDay was in Dallas for the Oklahoma-Texas game, which had a noon kickoff and was on Fox.

Here’s a list of all Top-25 match-ups on October 20th. Red dots indicate which ones could host GameDay (forgot to place a red dot for Oregon/Washington State):

Already, Purdue is at a disadvantage as there are 3 games featuring two Top-25 teams (which could change after this weekend). Michigan/Michigan State was probably knocked out of the rotation after MSU lost to Northwestern this weekend, and would feature Michigan two weeks in a row (as GameDay is in Ann Arbor this weekend).

Personally, I would give Purdue about a 10%-15% chance of hosting GameDay. Some of you might think that’s high, others would say that’s too low. But from the ESPN perspective, I would argue that NC State/Clemson, Oregon/Wazzou, and Colorado/Washington might be more attractive. For Clemson, this might be their only chance to host it as their schedule is pretty weak, and Clemson is already a playoff favorite. However, Clemson was already featured as GameDay visited for the Clemson/Texas A&M game in College Station. Washington/Colorado might be a better match-up, as well as Oregon/Washington State, but GameDay has already gone out west for the Oregon/Stanford game. Additionally, you also have Mississippi State and LSU, which would be an SEC Top-25 matchup not featuring Alabama.

Of course, there’s someone else we need to factor in here as well: Kirk Herbstreit.

As some of you may know, Herbstreit is one of the hosts on GameDay. Additionally, he calls the prime time game on ABC or ESPN. This means that Herbstreit will either be calling our game or the Mississippi State/LSU game on ESPN. Of course, Herbstreit has hosted GameDay in one location and made it to a different campus in time to call the primetime game. Assuming Herbstreit calls the Purdue/Ohio State game, this could work into Purdue’s favor for GameDay.

One of the leading contenders for College GameDay is Colorado at Washington. However, it may be pushing it if Kirk needs to be in West Lafayette that evening. While I don’t have information on flight times between Seattle and West Lafayette, we know that a direct flight from Seattle to Indy (conveniently flight #500 for the Indy 500) takes about 4 and a half hours:

Obviously, Kirk and the ESPN crews will take a private jet to West Lafayette instead, and we can assume this will take around the same time (and maybe shorter since the jet stream will likely give them a nice tail wind). With GameDay ending at 12pm Eastern time, I would assume that Kirk and the crews will be on their jet by 1-1:30pm (if they’re flying out of SeaTac). A 4-4.5 hour flight time to West Lafayette would have them arriving at the Purdue Airport by 6pm at the latest, which gives Kirk about an hour and a half to spare at a worst case scenario.

That window is doable, put perhaps they may not want to push it, so it could give Purdue a better chance at hosting. Of course, this could give Clemson a better chance at hosting as well with a short flight between South Carolina and Indiana. Given that Pullman is along the Washington/Idaho border, it would also be a shorter flight to West Lafayette if GameDay goes to Wazzou.

There is one other possibility: College GameDay could choose NOT to go to an FBS school, and instead visit an FCS school, or do it in the middle of Times Square like they have before. Honestly, I wouldn’t put it past them at this point.

With all of that, here are my chances for each location/game hosting GameDay that weekend. I should note that I am mostly guessing here, no fancy algorithm or code in the background:

  • NC State at Clemson, 40% chance: It’s a Top-25 match-up against the better ACC teams featuring a playoff team. Would also be easier for Herbstreit to make it to West Lafayette.
  • Colorado at Washington OR Oregon at Washington State, 30% chance: The two west coast games should be great match-ups, and either one is a toss-up for GameDay. I am just lumping the West Coast games together given the logistics of trying to get some of the crew to West Lafayette (though it would favor Wazzou in this case).
  • Mississippi State at LSU, 15% chance: A ranked match-up in the SEC that doesn’t involve Alabama. I wouldn’t rule them out.
  • Ohio State at Purdue, 10% chance: I know, we would prefer to see this higher, but at least we have a small chance at getting GameDay. Purdue’s chances could have been better if they had beaten at least EMU and either Northwestern or Mizzou.
  • Times Square/FCS School, 5% chance: Don’t be surprised if GameDay does this, as they usually do it once a year and this could be their chance. I am not aware of FCS’s schedule that weekend, so it could be in Times Square.

In the end:

Purdue’s history when featured on College GameDay:

October 18, 2003 - Purdue 26, Wisconsin 23 in Madison, Wisconsin Ben Jones kicks the game-winning field goal in the final seconds. To date this is Purdue’s last win over Wisconsin

November 15, 2003 – Ohio State 16, Purdue 13 (OT) in Columbus, Ohio – Purdue’s Bobby Izuchukwu blocks Ohio State’s game-winning field goal attempt at the end of regulation. The Boilers hold Ohio State to a field goal in OT< but Ben Jones misses his attempt to send it to double OT.

October 16, 2004 – Wisconsin 20, Purdue 17 in West Lafayette, Indiana – We all know it. The Fumble. Jones was also involved, missing a long field goal to tie on the final play.

For good measure, Purdue has been involved in the basketball version of GameDay as well.

January 22, 2011 – Purdue 86, Michigan State 76 in West Lafayette, Indiana – E’Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson lead Purdue to an important home win.

Purdue is one of just 23 schools that has hosted both football AND basketball Gameday: (Boston College, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Indiana, Kansas State, Kentucky, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin)