Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide fans rejoice as GameDay ‘curse’ is lifted


ESPN’s College GameDay arrived in Tuscaloosa for the first time since 2007, when heartbreak struck Alabama fans, as the Crimson Tide lost to Georgia in overtime. Saturday, Tide fans experienced a better result as Alabama lifted the “GameDay curse” by beating Penn State 24-3.

“It is great to have them back,” junior Jared Cornutt said. “Especially with ‘07 against Georgia we’ve had some good games. It’s finally back in Tuscaloosa; it’s where it needs to be.”

Besides the hyped match up between two of college football’s most acclaimed coaches, Saturday also held a special meaning, as it was former coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s birthday.

“To be down here you can just feel ‘Bear’ Bryant,” ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said. “His image is everywhere; the tradition, everything he established, you just feel it.”

The Gameday set was filled with crimson, as Alabama fans came out early and withstood the heat and humidity to be a part of the show.

“Every time we come down here, the fans are so supportive of their team and that is what GameDay is really about,” Herbstreit said.

Erin Andrews, host of ESPNU’s version of College GameDay, which airs Saturdays at 8 a.m., said she was excited to be in town – only her second visit to Tuscaloosa.

“I love Tuscaloosa,” Andrews said. “I feel like it’s one of the hearts and souls of the SEC.

“The last time I was here, for the South Carolina game, I went to Rama Jama’s and loved it, but I still haven’t been to Dreamland yet, which bothers me. I have never had the ribs before, so I feel like not a true SEC girl at all.”

Andrews, a University of Florida graduate, said she was interested to see how different aspects of this year’s Tide team play out over the course of the season.

“With them being the defending national champions, there’s a definite bull’s eye on their backs,” she said. “But the pressure seems like it’s not even there.”

ESPN analyst and GameDay host Chris Fowler said the passion of Alabama fans is different than others’ across the nation.

“Alabama fans have a deeper respect for the past tradition because the program has more of that to offer than other programs,” Fowler said. “Obviously the tradition in the South begins in Tuscaloosa. The crowd is very knowledgeable, they are not just blindly loyal; they know what good football is.

Alabama fans were not the only ones enjoying themselves on Saturday; there were also a fair amount of Penn State fans who made the trip down to be a part of the experience.

“It’s pretty good, I definitely feel the southern hospitality that everyone talks about,” Penn State junior Peter Donovan said. “We had GameDay at Penn State last year and it is the same intensity. It is a fun time.”

One of the many highlights of the show was when Alabama head coach Nick Saban appeared live on set to talk to the crew. Saban’s daughter Kristen, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, arrived just in time to see the end of her dad’s interview.

“I actually ran a little bit late and didn’t get to see him up there as much and he’s kind of mad at me,” Kristen Saban said “I saw him on TV for a little bit, and it is really cool to see him up there. I think he really enjoys it.”

Though her father has appeared many times on GameDay, Kristen Saban said this is her first GameDay experience.

“It is really cool, you get to see all the behind the scenes stuff like who does what and who cues what. It is really interesting.” Kristen Saban said.  

Fans are not the only ones that enjoy the GameDay experience; Fowler said the GameDay crew really enjoyed their trip to Tuscaloosa.

“The history lives here,” Fowler said. “You come here if you love the history of the sport. It is very obvious how much it means to people when the passion runs as deep as it does. The atmosphere never fails to be a great showcase for the show and the town.”

Fowler said there is a possibility that the crew may be returning to Tuscaloosa on Oct. 2 for the high profile game between Florida and Alabama.

“We do our part, but the team does their part too,” Fowler said. “If it’s the biggest game in the country we are going to be there.”

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