Peterson: ESPN College Football GameDay is coming to Ames for Cy-Hawk

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AMES, Ia. — What’s been talked about for a long time has become reality:

The ESPN College Football GameDay crew is coming to Ames.

For the first time, the popular college football pre-game show will originate on Cy-Hawk Saturday morning from the grassy area between Hilton Coliseum and the Scheman Building.

It will be a well-deserved public relations blitz for both unbeaten teams, as well as more evidence that Matt Campbell’s program is trending nationally. 

The other possibility -— and possibly even front-runner — was Clemson at Syracuse. However, that opportunity blew up after Maryland upset the Orange, whose athletics director, John Wildhack, is a former ESPN executive.

Thus Cy vs. Hawk.

The game in Ames has been in the exploratory stages for months, between Iowa State officials and ESPN. The clincher was that both Iowa and Iowa State are unbeatens — the Hawkeyes by virtue of beating Miami of Ohio and Rutgers, and the Cyclones with their slim victory against Northern Iowa.

It’s a Big 12 against Big Ten Power Five matchup, which also adds intrigue to the game. 

Primary panelists Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard and Rece Davis will preview the weekend’s games. They’ll predict winners. Corso will don something related to the mascot of the team he picks.

It’s always a fun, fast-moving show that includes a guest picker that’s usually somehow related to the host school of the state. Among the most memorable have been Charles Barkley, Bill Murray, Ric Flair, LeBron James, Katy Perry, Will Ferrell, and Alice Cooper.

Who will be the surprise picker Saturday? Aquaman Jason Mamoa, who grew up in Norwalk? 

Maybe. Maybe not.

It was just a year ago that a tweet in which “The Bear,” also known as ESPN GameDay selection guru Chris Fallica, wrote that Iowa State was No. 1 on his go-list of Power Five places the popular show hasn’t been. Jack Trice Stadium was already in the heads of the show’s site selectors, but Fallica’s tweet reinforced it.

This game also has been known to attract attention-seeking political figures — like in 2015, when Donald Trump was among four presidential hopefuls checking out the Iowa State tailgating scene before kickoff.

Then-Iowa State president Steven Leath actually walked Trump around inside the stadium and even onto the field — after Trump signaled his upcoming visit that day with the following tweet:

“Will be in Iowa today for a speech and a football game at Jack Truce Stadium.”

Randy Peterson is the Iowa State columnist for the Register. Reach him at rpeterson@dmreg.com, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete. No one covers the Cyclones like the Register. Subscribe today at Des Moines Register.com/Deal to make sure you never miss a moment.

Source: Des Moines Register