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It’s rare (and probably dumb for paycheck-preservation reasons) to anchor a show on one network and always talk about how much you love a show on a competing network, but that was my relationship with ESPN and their 3-hour Saturday morning pep rally known as College GameDay.
Emphasis on the word “was” – all thanks to the once sports-only network getting rid of the greatest opening sequence in TV history. Of course, I’m talking about the college football themed version of “Comin’ to Your City,” performed by Big & Rich. Look it up on YouTube and relive the magic year by year.
Am I alone in my outrage? Hardly – see here.
But for me, it was more than simply the kickoff to my college football day. It meant a family dance party with my wife and two girls. It meant my 2 year old eagerly looking for the “doggie” (Georgia Bulldog) and the “duckie” (Oregon Duck). It meant being distracted for a few brief moments that my UCLA Bruins will likely never win a football national championship in my lifetime.
And while we can still dance to the new version… and still point out a different doggie and duckie (and still have the reality that UCLA is playing for 7-5 every year), it’s not the same.
GameDay Put A Little Zing In My Zang Zang
So, the journalist in me went to the source – the man who puts a little zing in your zang zang – John Rich of “Big & Rich”, who co-wrote the song and performed it in the opening sequence for 16 years – to find out why. “ESPN reached out to our management and said they wanted to go in a different direction. There really was no other explanation offered,” says Rich, who added that he was surprised by the change because the song has become pretty “iconic.”
To be clear, this is not an attack on the other artists now performing the song in the opening sequence, especially the artist formerly known as “Hootie.” I was all set to see a Darius Rucker show last month when a babysitting issue involving the aforementioned children got in the way. For his part, Rich, who has written songs with and performed with Rucker, says he is an “awesome guy” and a “great choice to have on TV singing about college football.”
So what’s really behind not having Rich sing his own song anymore? When I asked him whether it has to do with his association with Fox News and his outspoken conservative beliefs, he says “they didn’t say that, but I assumed that could have been a factor. ESPN is a very liberal leaning network, as we all know, and I am definitely not that.”
But regardless of the reason, change has come to College GameDay, at a time when a sea change of conference realignment is coming to the sport of college football itself. And while we’re on the subject of change, if you want to make a switch, tune instead into a pretty darn good college football kickoff show from the folks who sign my aforementioned paycheck – Fox’s “Big Noon Kickoff”. Your TV will already be set for what inevitably feels like the most nail-biting game each week with the noon ET tilt on Fox. This week, for the second week in a row, you’ll get to see Coach Deion Sanders bring Prime Time to Saturday afternoon. And you’ll prove that you don’t need ESPN anymore to add a little bang in your weekend ying yang.
Todd Piro is the co-host of “Fox & Friends FIRST” on the Fox News Channel.