It's official: ESPN's "College GameDay" show is coming to Philadelphia to set the stage for Saturday night's Temple vs. Notre Dame showdown at sold-out Lincoln Financial Field. And as has been rumored, the site for the show will be Independence Mall.
The Inquirer's Marc Narducci confirmed Monday evening that the set will be in the middle of Market Street between 5th and 6th Streets.
Confirmation of the news was delayed until Monday afternoon - ESPN usually makes the announcement on Sunday - because of work required to secure Independence Mall as the site. It's federal land, not city or private property, so different permits are required to stage events in the space.
After the news broke, GameDay senior coordinating producer Lee Fitting confirmed another rumor: that Temple beat Washington State for the privilege of hosting what will be the show's 300th production from a live game site.
— Lee Fitting (@leefitting) October 26, 2015
Washington State has never hosted College GameDay, despite the fact that someone has managed to fly a school flag at every episode of the show since 2003. The Cougars will face Stanford on Saturday night in the Pac-12's marquee contest of the week, and it happens to be an ESPN game. It seemed that the stars were aligning for Pullman's drought to end finally, but Temple got the job done.
Now attention can turn fully to this coming weekend. Philadelphia's great national monuments will provide a terrific backdrop, and everyone knows the Cherry Crusade will be amped up for the occasion - even though it'll require a much earlier wake-up call than what college students usually have on a Saturday.
GameDay will air from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. Rece Davis will host with analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard. Samantha Ponder, David Pollack and Tom Rinaldi also willl contribute on-air from the site, and there will be reports from other big games of the day across the nation.
In addition, the Friday episode of "College Football Live" at 2 p.m. will likely air from the GameDay site. Expect both productions to draw big crowds, and a wide range of creative (sometimes too creative) signs that will be raised in front of any and every camera present.
Come Saturday night, Herbstreit will be in the broadcast booth alongside play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler, with Heather Cox reporting from the sideline, as ABC broadcasts the 8 p.m. contest between the No. 21-ranked Owls and No. 9 Fighting Irish. Temple is 7-0 for the first time in school history; Notre Dame, led by Roman Catholic product Will Fuller, is 6-1.
This will be the second time that GameDay, one of ESPN's most famous programs, has visited Philadelphia. The first was on Nov. 16, 2002, for Penn vs. Harvard at Franklin Field. And the show will be back Dec. 12 for the Army-Navy game, which also will be played at the Eagles' home.
As of this writing, there aren't full details yet about how the setup at Independence Mall will work. I'll update this post when more information becomes available.