If you're anything like most college football fans, Saturday fall festivities don't get started with the first noon eastern time kickoff. No sir. The day doesn't officially begin until the ESPN College GameDay cast has broken down the biggest stories, showcased gut-wrenching player profiles, and Lee Corso says something ridiculous before waving to the crowd with a gargantuan piece of headgear atop his noggin.
Clearly ranking the all-time best ESPN College GameDay cast members is subject to one's personal preferences, but regardless of the order, these talented announcers and reporters are the reason this is the best pregame show in all of sports.
11. Ivan Maisel
Easily one of the best college football writers of our generation, Maisel used to report from the particular game his was covering as well as additional games in that conference.
It was my first introduction to his deep knowledge and passion for the game, which is magnified tenfold in his writing. If you are a college football fan, or just a fan of incredible prose, his work is an absolute must-read.
10. Tim Brando
Before there was the legendary Chris Fowler, veteran play-by-play man Tim Brando was the host of the show from 1987 to 1988. The program didn't take its talents to the road really until 1994, so Brando wasn't subjected to screaming-drunk fans or Lee Corso headgear antics.
9. Samantha Ponder
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A reporter and contributor from 2012-16, Ponder got her first break at ESPN when the Longhorn Network hired her as a sideline reporter. She quickly shot up the ranks and now holds the prestigious title of ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown host alongside legends like Randy Moss and Charles Woodson.
8. Desmond Howard
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The man who made the Heisman pose popular at Michigan has been a constant mainstay with the show since 2005. Howard never seems fazed by the madness of the students and fans behind him and breaks down offenses and defenses in a way that even the casual fan can understand.
He's also got one of the best grins and laughs in the business (and one can only wonder what's going through his head when Corso is riding on the back of a motorcycle with a mascot or shooting off muskets after making his headgear predictions).
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7. Craig James
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Along with Eric Dickerson, James helped comprise the Pony Express tandem at SMU that is still considered one of the greatest backfields in the game's history.
After a relatively short career with the New England Patriots, James was an analyst on the show from 1990-95. He also called games on Thursday nights and had one of the best on-air senses of humor in the business.
6. Erin Andrews
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A reporter and contributor from 2010-11, GameDay helped show the viewing audience that Andrews was more than just a sideline reporter. Much more, in fact.
She would go on to host the first hour of GameDay on ESPNU before leaving the network to join Fox Sports to host Fox College Football's studio show as well as contribute to Fox NFL Sunday.
5. Rece Davis
It's not easy taking over for a legend, but that's exactly what Davis did in 2015 when he took over hosting duties for Chris Fowler. The transition has been seamless with Davis directing traffic around the desk despite the madness going on right behind him.
Fun fact: Rece's birth name is William Laurece Davis.
4. Lee Corso
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Here's where the list really gets tricky. Some might place Lee Corso as high as number one while others may argue that aside from his headgear shenanigans prior to the day's first kickoff, the former Indiana head coach has seen his air time diminish greatly over the years.
Then again, the man has been with the show since its inception in 1987, and as much as he's prone to doing goofy things on-air, it doesn't really feel like the start of a college football Saturday until he plunks down a massive piece of headgear upon his dome.
3. David Pollack
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Since joining the current team back in 2011, the former three-time All-American at Georgia is just as fabulous in the studio as he is when calling live games from around the country. His football IQ, as the cliché goes, is absolutely off the charts.
He's also never afraid to be outspoken even if that means negative remarks about his alma mater.
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2. Kirk Herbstreit
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It can be easy to hate on Kirk Herbstreit — especially on social media what with those dreamy eyes, Ohio State pedigree, marrying his college sweetheart and cheerleader, and four adorable sons. All of that aside, the man simply knows his football and isn't afraid to be critical of any team in the country, including his own which caused him to move from his Ohio home in 2011 to Nashville because of local backlash.
Not only is Herbstreit potentially the best studio analyst in GameDay history, he also pulls double duty on Saturdays by flying from whatever campus the show is at to the stadium hosting the ABC primetime game of the night.
1. Chris Fowler
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Would College GameDay be what it is today without Chris Fowler? From 1990 to 2014, Fowler manned the desk with sheer chaos going on around him once the show took its act to the road full time in 1995.
From staying focused despite the student madness and producers in his ear — not to mention keeping Corso in check when the former couch went rouge — Fowler is also one of the best play-by-play men in the business. As sad as it was to see him leave GameDay in 2014, he still shines on Saturday nights during the weekend's biggest games.