SEATTLE – Lee Fitting called it a no-brainer, this visit to the University of Washington by ESPN’s College GameDay crew.
Fitting is a senior coordinating producer at ESPN, and as the producer of GameDay, the popular college football pregame show, he is among the group of “four or five” people who sit down to decide where the traveling show will film each week.
After Mississippi lost last week, removing much of the intrigue from its game this weekend against Texas A&M, Fitting said UW’s matchup with No. 2 Oregon was an easy choice, because it fulfilled the crew’s weekly goal of finding the best story.
“When you look at these few things – you look at national title contender on the road at an archrival in a hostile environment; matchup of two highly-ranked teams; arguably best game on paper of the day; throw in the fact we’ve never been to Washington before,” Fitting said during a phone interview earlier this week. “All those ingredients make for a really nice recipe for a great College GameDay.”
ESPN chose to film from centrally-located Red Square instead of on the waterfront near Husky Stadium, Fitting said, because, after all, the show airs at 6 a.m. Pacific Time. It’s going to be dark for the first hour-plus.
So they needed a backdrop that not only represented the campus, but would accentuate itself without the benefit of daylight.
Suzzallo Library fit both requirements – its Gothic-style nobility stands out to anyone who visits, and it is always lit at night.
Flag to be waved
One of GameDay’s longest-standing traditions has become a point of controversy among some Huskies fans with apparently little else to discuss this week.
For nearly 10 years, efforts have been made by a wide base of Washington State University supporters to make sure a Cougars flag – or two – is waving within view of the GameDay cameras during each week’s telecast.
There are no plans to change this week, according to a man named John Bley, who told Cougfan.com, a WSU fan site, that he and a friend plan to peaceably assemble with the WSU flag on Saturday, no matter that it will be on UW’s campus.
Despite talk from Husky fans endorsing some kind of flag takeover, Fitting said the tradition will be protected.
“We’ll make sure the flag gets on this week and those folks get a decent spot to wave ‘Ol’ Crimson’ on Saturday,” Fitting said. “One of our folks will meet with them before the show and make sure they’re in a safe spot and make sure a camera gets to them at some point.”