Sports journalism students recently had an exclusive backstage pass to the ESPN College GameDay set, which included a one-on-one session with an ESPN writer, a press conference and tours of the set, production truck and tour bus.
Nine students from two sports journalism classes (JRN 417 Sports Journalism and JRN 418 Advanced Sports Journalism) were randomly selected from a drawing to experience the College GameDay operations firsthand while the show was visiting campus for its live broadcast prior to the MSU/Ohio State game.
The students who participated included Jordan Goltz and Chris Hauler from JRN 417 and Tyler Beck, Amanda Chaperon, Lilli Khatibi, Geoff Preston, Anthony Serafino, Erik Stiem and Jon Yales from JRN 418. Sports Journalist in Residence Joanne C. Gerstner, former editor at ESPN, arranged the tour and accompanied the group.
“This was by far one of the coolest experiences I’ve had at Michigan State,” Khatibi said. “We were given a behind-the-scenes look at College GameDay and were able to learn about the production process behind big TV shows. Everyone was extremely welcoming and nice to us. I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity I was given and am very lucky to have had this experience.”
The students attended a press conference with senior reporter Tom Rinaldi and college football analyst Desmond Howard.
“We got to ask them questions about our football team and questions in general about how they enjoy working for College GameDay,” Khatibi said.
The students also had a private session with Gene Wojciechowski, a sports writer for ESPN.com and College GameDay.
“Gene Wojciechowski was extremely nice,” Khatibi said. “He gave us helpful tips for becoming successful in the sports journalism field and how to keep print writing fresh and engaging during a time when media content is more desirable.
“It was really cool to see a behind-the-scenes aspect of GameDay. We learned a lot about what goes into producing such a show and how much work must be done ahead of time in order to have a successful show.”
College GameDay is ESPN’s college football pregame show, featuring ESPN commentators Lee Corso, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard. The show travels across the country with a new site each week, typically selecting one of the biggest games of the week as its location.