Q&A with College GameDay’s Desmond Howard

ESPN College GameDay will emanate from Gainesville, FL for the first time since 2009 on Saturday as the No. 2 Florida Gators (6-0, 5-0 SEC) host the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1 SEC) at 3:30 p.m. in a game that will air live on CBS.

It was announced Wednesday that Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte will be on hand to be the guest picker for the show, which will be set up and aired from the grass outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium’s façade that faces University Drive.

To get fans ready for the program and game, OGGOA had the opportunity to sit down for a question-and-answer session with ESPN‘s Desmond Howard, one of the three analysts who are part of the College GameDay crew.

Be sure to tune in to ESPN on Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon!

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: This is the third time already this season that Florida will be featured on College GameDay. How have you seen the Gators progress and improve from when the program was on-site for the Texas A&M game until now?
DESMOND HOWARD: “That’s simple. The offense has gotten better. Jeff Driskel has gotten more confident. I think the players around him are more confident in him, and the running game with [Mike] Gillislee has become more solidified. They’re playing a very physical brand of football on the offensive side and defensive side, so those are the biggest differences so far?”

AS: The first BCS standings were released on Sunday and obviously Florida being ranked No. 2 was a major point of argument for some. How do you feel about the Gators deserving that spot in the initial standings and do you really think the BCS is worth arguing about so early in the season?
DH: “I don’t have a problem with it at all. It’s like people need something to argue about and debate about so they talk about the BCS rankings. We’re in the middle of October. If anyone knows anything about football, you understand that this is going to shake itself out. Especially with Florida at No. 2 and Oregon at No. 3. You have Alabama at No. 1 so those teams, if they keep going the way they’re going, one of them is going to cancel the other one out. If this was Nov. 22 or something like that, then we’ll be having a conversation. But like I said, they’re still going to play each other in the SEC Championship if they stay on the same course they are on right now, so what is there to argue about? So no, I don’t have a problem with the BCS rankings whatsoever.”

Read the rest of this Q&A with Desmond Howard…after the break!
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Florida Gators doing best to ignore BCS hype

Gator Nation was energized on Sunday night when it was officially announced on ESPN that the Florida Gators, one year removed from a 6-6 regular season that appeared to leave little hope for the program in the near future, were ranked No. 2 in the first BCS standings released for the 2012 season.

Florida, which was ranked No. 1 by the computers and edged Oregon for the No. 2 overall spot, was immediately the hot topic of conversation by broadcasters.

Did the Gators deserve to be the No. 2-ranked team?

Most believe the answer to that question is yes considering Florida has racked up a 5-0 record in the Southeastern Confernece with three come-from-behind second-half victories (two on the road), two wins over ranked opponents (one that was a top-five team) and another over a team that is currently ranked in the top 25.

Can Florida maintain its high ranking?

That is where the debate raged and will continue until the end of the regular season.

If you ask the Gators about being just one spot behind defending national champion Alabama in the latest BCS, you will not hear much debate or celebration for that matter.

“I guess it’s something that came out [Sunday],” senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic said dismissively on Monday. “It’s only halfway through the season. We still got a long way to go. We still have some more SEC opponents on our schedule ahead of us. Everything is not said and done yet.”

“It’s whatever,” redshirt senior defensive lineman Omar Hunter added. “That’s not going to get you to Atlanta or to the national championship. [We] still got a lot more games to play and it’s whatever right now.”

In fact, sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel was the only player who even mentioned Florida being deserving of some praise even if it is an empty honor at this point.

“We don’t get too caught up in the rankings, but we’re undefeated and we had a tough schedule,” he said. “The rankings don’t matter until the end of the season, but we’re 6-0 and that’s what we look at. We can’t be any better than we are now.”

Read the rest of this story…after the break!
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ESPN College GameDay at Florida on Oct. 20

ESPN College GameDay will emanate from Gainesville, FL for the first time since 2009 as the No. 2 Florida Gators (6-0, 5-0 SEC) host the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS in a game that could go a long way to determining which team will win the SEC East and head to Atlanta, GA in December.

The Gators will be making their third appearance on the program this season. Florida was last featured three times in 2009 – on the road at LSU and in back-to-back weeks at home against Florida State and in a neutral site game against Alabama in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. UF has appeared as a visitor in GameDay programs hosted in College Station, TX and Knoxville, TN already this season.

The Gators have been featured on the program a total of 35 times, most out of any team in the country (Ohio State is second with 29 appearances). Florida has hosted 12 times, second-most in the nation (Ohio State – 13) The Gators are 7-4 overall as hosts in Gainesville and 16-7 when playing in a GameDay contest elsewhere.

College GameDay begins with a one-hour show at 9 a.m. on ESPNU before shifting over to ESPN for the primary two-hour broadcast beginning at 10 a.m. It features host Chris Fowler, analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack, and contributor Samantha Steele.

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ESPN College GameDay at Tennessee on Sept. 15

ESPN College GameDay will eminate from Knoxville, TN next Saturday as the No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers (2-0, 0-0 SEC) host the No. 18 Florida Gators (2-0, 1-0 SEC) in a game that is set to be played at Neyland Stadium live on ESPN at 6 p.m.

The Gators will be making their second appearance on the program in as many weeks after being left off for two full seasons. Florida was last featured three times in 2009 – on the road at LSU and in back-to-back weeks at home against Florida State and in a neutral site game against Alabama in Atlanta, GA for the SEC Championship.

ESPN will take the program to Knoxville for the eighth time and first since 2004. Tennessee is 2-5 all-time when hosting the program but 0-3 all-time when Florida comes to town for GameDay.

The Gators have been featured on the program a total of 34 times, most out of any team in the country (Ohio State is second with 29 appearances). Florida is 5-1 against Tennessee when GameDay features the showdown. The Gators are 7-4 overall in Gainesville, FL and 15-7 when playing in a GameDay contest on the road.

College GameDay begins with a one-hour show at 9 a.m. on ESPNU before shifting over to ESPN for the primary two-hour broadcast beginning at 10 a.m. It features host Chris Fowler, analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack, and contributor Samantha Steele.

The network has not yet announced the broadcast assignments for the game.

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ESPN College GameDay at Texas A&M on Sept. 8

ESPN College GameDay will eminate from College Station, TX next Saturday as the Texas A&M Aggies (0-0) host the No. 23 Florida Gators (1-0) in a game that is not only the season opener for the home team but also their first-ever league game as a newly-established member of the Southeastern Conference.

Florida will take on Texas A&M at Kyle Field on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be aired live on ESPN at 3:30 p.m.

The Gators will be making their first appearance on the program in two seasons after last being featured three times in 2009 – at home against Florida State, on the road at LSU and in a neutral site game against Alabama in Atlanta, GA for the SEC Championship.

ESPN will take the program to College Station for the third time since it began in 1993; the Aggies last hosted GameDay on Nov. 4, 2006.

College GameDay begins with a one-hour show at 9 a.m. on ESPNU before shifting over to ESPN for the primary two-hour broadcast beginning at 10 a.m. It features host Chris Fowler, analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack and contributor Samantha Steele.

The network will put Brent Musburger (play-by-play), Herbstreit (color commentary) and Heather Cox (sideline reporter) on the call for the featured contest.

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New FOX Sports host/reporter Erin Andrews: “Change is always hard…I had to do it for myself.”

Ending an eight-year run with ESPN in which she became one of the most popular figures in sports media, former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews left the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” on Friday and was announced as the newest FOX Sports employee in an official statement released by the network Sunday evening. On the brink of the greatest undertakings of her career – hosting a weekly college football studio show and roaming the sidelines of NFL games for FOX Sports – she took time out of her hectic schedule to go in-depth with OGGOA about her deal with FOX and the excitement she feels moving forward with a new employer.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: So, have you caught your breath yet?
ERIN ANDREWS: “No, and I’m still not sleeping very well to be honest. I’m just so – not anxious – but I think it’s just been really high-charged for the last month and really month-and-a-half. I’ve been seeking a lot of advice, making a lot of phone calls, doing a lot of soul searching. I’m just waiting for the crash. I’m waiting to be able to sleep through the night and for me to crash and relax. That really hasn’t happened yet.”

AS: I can understand that. I heard you on Dan Patrick [Tuesday] morning and he of course made a very good point that it is always easier to stay where you’re comfortable instead of trying something brand new. What would you say was the catalyst that made you decide to make this move and how difficult of a decision was it for you in the end?
EA: “The thing that was most attractive about FOX was the opportunity to be able to work events that I wouldn’t get to do with ESPN. It was important to still stay involved with college football because it’s my religion, it’s my life. I’m proud of where I went to school. I’m proud of the connections I’ve made. I’m proud of my relationships that I have in the sport. I’ve been getting text messages from Coach [Will] Muschamp to Coach [Les] Miles to Chip Kelly to Lane Kiffin. Everybody has really been wishing me well and congratulating me.

“It was important for me to keep [being involved in college football] because I feel like that’s really where I made my mark, but FOX has the NFL. They have the best games and they have the playoffs and they have the Super Bowl next year. They also have the baseball All-Star Game and the [League Championship Series] and the World Series. These are all events that, when I was in high school and I went to UF, I wanted to work these events. To be able to do all this and more – it all really messed up the whole picture with re-signing with ESPN and made me start thinking long and hard over the last month-and-a-half.

“Really over the last week was when I just got very emotional and started calling my friends and family and guys like Dan Patrick and Rich Eisen. I got advice from Coach K. I got advice from a lot of coaches and a lot of people just said, ‘I think it’s time for you to grow. I think it’s time for you to get better. You’ve done this. You’ve got the sideline reporting – now try something else.’ That is what was the most attractive about this opportunity.”

AS: Obviously you grew extremely close with Chris Fowler and the guys on College GameDay. How hard was it to break the news and let them know what you decided?
EA: “They were shocked. Actually Kirk [Herbstreit] told me he thought the deal was done. I think that a lot of people at ESPN were very shocked. I think that everybody expected I was coming back. Chris kind of had an idea what was going on. He’s here in New York and I’ve spent a lot of time with him and his wife, so he had a sense what was happening. I just called them the other day and I was hysterical. I was crying very hard. It was very important for me to let them know that I know there are a lot of people in their career that would love to work with guys like Chris and Kirk and Coach [Lee] Corso and our producers and David [Pollack] and Desmond [Howard].

“It was just very important for me to let them know that I felt very lucky and very spoiled. I was just so thankful that I had the opportunity to work with them. With College GameDay, I camped out at that show for four years at UF. To be able to be a part of that show – go to college campuses, take pictures with kids and really do what I was camping out for when I was at UF – it was a big deal for me. That show means the world to me. It makes me very emotional just to think about it.”

Read the rest of our in-depth interview with Erin Andrews…after the break!
Continue Reading » New FOX Sports host/reporter Erin Andrews: “Change is always hard…I had to do it for myself.”

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Erin Andrews joins FOX Sports in major role

Ending an eight-year run with ESPN in which she became one of the most popular figures in sports media, former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews left the “Worldwide Leader In Sports” on Friday and was announced as the newest FOX Sports employee in an official statement released by the network Sunday evening.

College football on FOX just became must-watch TV this fall as the popular Erin Andrews, one of sports television’s brightest stars, rejoins the FOX Sports family. A versatile broadcaster whose talent bridges sports and entertainment, Andrews’ position includes hosting the new prime time college football pregame show, making significant contributions to the network’s NFL and MLB coverage, along with other marquee sports properties.

“Opportunities to add someone of Erin Andrews’s caliber don’t come along often and we’re thrilled to welcome her back to the FOX Sports family,” said executive producer, co-president and COO Eric Shanks. “Erin is one of the hardest-working, most-respected individuals in sports television and we expect her to have an immediate impact. In addition to having her anchor our new football show and studio coverage, we expect her to be a big contributor to our MLB and NFL coverage as well as other major events.”

Andrews said she is excited about her change of scenery and added responsibilities, which primarily includes a half-hour college football pregame studio show that will eminate from Los Angeles, CA each Saturday.

“To have the chance to not only host the primetime college football pregame show, but cover the NFL, MLB and various other incredible FOX Sports properties is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Andrews said in the network’s press release. “I couldn’t be more excited to get to work.”

She told Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch on Sunday that being able to be a part of NFL coverage “was a huge thing; it was always a dream. I always wanted to work in the NFL and they are offering me a role in it.” Andrews also said it was a “difficult move” but the “right” decision because it is “allowing me to do so many things that I probably would not have been able to do had I stayed at ESPN.”

News of her potential departure from ESPN broke on Friday; the network quickly announced that she was not returning after noting that a substantial offer was made to retain her services. ESPN did not offer to increase her on-air responsibilities despite the fact that she wanted a larger role with the network.

Andrews will change employers just two years after signing a new deal with ESPN that expanded her role with the network. She received her first hosting gig (the first hour of College GameDay on ESPNU) and did some work for ABC as a correspondent on Good Morning America as well as in other sports and entertainment capacities.

Andrews began her career in 2000 as a freelance reporter for FOX Sports Florida and joined the network full-time as a Tampa Bay Lighting reporter for Sunshine Network in 2001-02. She was then hired by Turner South to cover three of the four professional sports organizations in Atlanta, GA before being hired away by ESPN in May 2004.

Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

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Erin Andrews leaves ESPN; joining FOX Sports

Updated July 1 at 5:00 p.m.

Former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews’s eight-year run with ESPN came to an end on Friday when the network announced that she left to pursue other interests.

“Erin Andrews leaving ESPN. She did great work for us and we made an aggressive offer to keep her. We wish her the best on her next chapter,” the network said in a statement.

Just minutes before ESPN’s announcement, Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch reported that Andrews was being “aggressively” pursued by FOX Sports to take on “a major role in FOX’s college football coverage” and even went so far as to participate in a recent meeting with the network’s executives. FOX Sports is a prominent carrier of Pac-12 and Big 12 Conference games and has recently begun hiring major names (such as play-to-play man Gus Johnson) to broadcast these contests.

Deitsch learned Sunday that Andrews has agreed to a deal with FOX Sports and has been tabbed to host a half-hour primetime college football studio show beginning on Sept. 1. “Andrews will also have other assignments at FOX Sports, including a role in its NFL and MLB coverage,” he added. USA Today reports via a network spokesman that those responsibilities will be “significant.”

In addition to covering college football and basketball for ESPN, Andrews also has experience as a sideline reporter for MLB and college baseball on the national level.

She will join FOX Sports on Monday two years after signing a new deal with ESPN that expanded her role with the network. In addition to her duties as a sideline reporter, she was prominently featured on College GameDay, hosted the first hour of that program (broadcast on ESPNU) and did work for ABC as a correspondent on Good Morning America as well as in other sports and entertainment capacities.

Andrews began her career in 2000 as a freelance reporter for FOX Sports Florida and joined the network full-time as a Tampa Bay Lighting reporter for Sunshine Network in 2001-02. She was then hired by Turner South to cover three of the four professional sports organizations in Atlanta, GA before being hired away by ESPN in May 2004.

Photo Credit: Vanity Fair

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