Feb. 8, 2013
By Lauren Chval –
In a Feb. 7 press conference, Notre Dame men’s basketball coach Mike Brey fielded questions on tomorrow’s game against Louisville, discussing BIG EAST scheduling, the progress of graduate student Scott Martin and this week’s preparation. He also addressed the obvious difference in this weekend’s big game: the presence of College GameDay.
“The circus is coming to town, and I’ve got my cotton candy,” Brey joked. “We are going to have fun. We are going to enjoy it. I’m going to be with the students. Someone said there’s a game in there somewhere at 9 o’clock, but I’ll get to that later.”
The preparation level that goes into putting on College GameDay is certainly comparable to that of a circus. Josh Berlo, senior assistant athletic director for event marketing, says that it takes employees from multiple departments to prepare for such an event.
“Dozen of staff members from marketing, ticketing, Fighting Irish Digital Media, and media relations worked diligently and contributed countless amount of hours to ensure that College GameDay would be the best experience for the Notre Dame community,” Berlo says.
One of the responsibilities of the athletic department is working closely with ESPN to ensure the best program possible. ESPN Public Relations Executive Keri Potts explains that a lot of long hours go into each show.
“Our producers prep each week leading into the show, making sure features are completed, footage obtained, reporters sent out for features and news gathering, graphics built out and research stats provided,” Potts says. “And then we arrive on site Thursday for serious `go time’ and execution of the show’s rundown.”
The school hosting College GameDay is given special focus by ESPN, including an interview with the Coach, feature segments and a game show competition between two of the players. Potts says GameDay looks to highlight the spirit of the school, its basketball program and its students.
“College GameDay is a celebration of that school and then a game which is more equally distributed in coverage of the two teams playing,” Potts says.
Aside from working with ESPN, Berlo says that much of the work that goes into College GameDay is giving the program and game the promotion it deserves.
“The promotional efforts used to raise awareness of the events surrounding GameDay included using electronic, digital, and traditional media to ensure that all the loyal Notre Dame followers are aware of this unique opportunity to come out support the Irish and enjoy the GameDay atmosphere,” Berlo explains.
Part of that promotional awareness comes from the Leprechaun Legion, which Berlo says has done a great part to engage the students of Notre Dame, St. Mary’s and Holy Cross.
The Legion has been employing social media throughout the week to raise student awareness of the events surrounding College GameDay. Of course, the biggest aspect of student involvement is the College GameDay Campout, held in the JACC tonight starting at 10 p.m. Aside from frequent tweets about the event, the Leprechaun Legion set up a Facebook page detailing the contests, games and giveaways that will be happening over the course of the night. Some of the highlighted happenings are sign making, games of Knockout and 3-on-3, and an appearance by Brey himself.
Students already know the appeal of GameDay, as the football version of the show came to Notre Dame in October of 2012. Their return to South Bend makes this College GameDay extra special for the Irish.
“We are honored to be one of only six institutions to host ESPN GameDay for football and men’s basketball in the same year,” Berlo says.
Indeed, there are only 19 schools that have hosted both versions of College GameDay, but Notre Dame is in the elite group of six to host both in the same year. Hosting GameDay speaks to both the caliber and rich history of the school’s program.
“Each school has a distinct flavor, history and story,” Potts says. “It is representative of college sports as a whole. Look at this year: We began at Hinkle Fieldhouse–Historic Hinkle. Then, we were at NC State, which had a terrific turnout, as they are all so happy to be back in the hunt. Last weekend, it was IU’s Assembly Hall, which had a totally different but equally exciting feel.”
Berlo explains that the presence of College GameDay demonstrates Notre Dame’s excellence as a program and an institution.
“GameDay selecting the University of Notre Dame is a testament to the long-standing success of Coach Brey and the men’s basketball program here at Notre Dame. GameDay is a special opportunity for the University to showcase what it stands for as well it’s five pillars of excellence, education, faith, tradition, and community.”
The last time GameDay came to Notre Dame was in 2009 when Notre Dame played Connecticut. Brey says that for that game–with a 45-game win streak on the team’s back–he might have been too uptight going into College GameDay. This time, he’s looking to enjoy the ride.
“Bring it all on. We’re going to have fun with it, we’re going to enjoy it, be loose and play.”