The behind-the-scenes effort to produce ESPN's College Gameday

Saturday, October 23, 2010 | 3:37 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — It's just after 5 a.m. on Saturday morning at Francis Quadrangle. Anxious students begin taking their places, waiting for some sign of life on this, the 99th anniversary of Homecoming at MU.

And then, the ESPN "College GameDay" set becomes illuminated by one single spotlight. Students, tired but unfazed, cheer and wave their signs. 

While the audience assembles, debating who will be the celebrity picker, or what mascot head Lee Corso will display at the end of the program, a different set of people stays behind the scenes. They will ensure that the celebrity picker shows up, and that Corso has a head.

It's the production crew. They guarantee that things run smoothly, anchors understand what they need to discuss and when, and the order of the show.

And with ESPN's "College Gameday," it is no different. For the show, much of the production responsibility falls to ESPN's Lee Fitting, a coordinating producer. 

In keeping with the production theme, the events of Friday and Saturday follow, listed in a timeline form. Check the glossary of terms at the end, as defined by Fitting, to translate the TV jargon. 

Friday, Oct. 22

9:20 a.m. — Desmond Howard "SportsCenter" talkback

10:20 a.m. — Kirk Herbstreit "SportsCenter" talkback

10:25 a.m. — Tape segments with Erin Andrews, Herbstriet and Howard

11:10 a.m. — Chris Fowler to set; tape Speed Drills

11:30 a.m. — Brent Musberger "SportsCenter" talkback

11:45 a.m. — Crew lunch

11:45 a.m. — Production meeting

2:30 p.m. — Talent watch tapes

3:00 p.m. — Howard tapes Desmond's Dash

3:00 p.m. — Outside media availability

Saturday, Oct. 23

6:45 a.m. — Talent on site

7:00 a.m. — Associate producer shows talent remaining tapes

7:00 a.m. — Andrews tapes "SportsCenter" bump

7:30 a.m. — Herbstreit "SportsCenter" talkback on main set

7:35 a.m. — Andrews tapes bumps for 9 a.m. show

7:45 a.m. — Fowler, Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Howard rehearse for 9 a.m. show

8 a.m. to 9 a.m. — Live "College GameDay" on ESPNU

8:45 a.m. — Fowler, Corso and Howard to main set

9 a.m. to 11 a.m. — Live "College GameDay" on ESPN

11:05 a.m. — Fowler, Herbstriet and Howard tape segments for wraps and ABC

Glossary of Terms (as defined by coordinating producer Lee Fitting):

talkback: When an analyst does a segment with an anchor based in Bristol, Conn. The Bristol anchor asks them a question or introduces a topic, and they have a conversation back and forth.

Speed Drills:  A segment for "SportsCenter" during which anchors touch on three topics in a quick manner.

production meeting: This is when the producers and on-air talent go through each segment of the show, discuss possible changes and what each person will say. Remember when they sent warm wishes to Eric LeGrand, the recently paralyzed Rutgers football player? They discussed how to approach the issue in great detail at this meeting. It's a forum through which to generate ideas and discover opinions. 

outside media availability: When the on-air talent is available for interviews with the local media. Usually held Friday afternoons.

bump: The last segment before commercial break, when anchors promote what is coming up next: "Still to come on 'College GameDay,' we are going to discuss..."

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