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Fans gear up for ‘GameDay’

Tori Roeck | Thursday, October 11, 2012

Students will showcase their dedication to Notre Dame football on national television Saturday during filming of ESPN’s “College GameDay.” A pit for 200 students will be located near the commentators, and many fans will camp out the night before to ensure a spot in the crowd.  

Senior Kristen Stoutenburgh, executive vice president of Leprechaun Legion, said the group wants as many students as possible to come to the filming.

“We want the nation to know that the Legion is the best student section in the country and we’re supporting our team 100 percent,” Stoutenburgh said. ”We want a Legion green invasion for ‘GameDay,’ so we want students to come early and wear their green Legion gear.”

Leprechaun Legion will sponsor sign making in the JACC Fieldhouse after the pep rally Friday so students can hold up creative posters during the telecast, Stoutenburgh said. The group will also give out free McDonald’s breakfast sandwiches Saturday morning to the first 200 students to show up, she said.

“Notre Dame football weekends are special to begin with, but having ‘College GameDay’ on campus adds another level of excitement and energy on campus,” Stoutenburgh said. “We have an awesome opportunity to show the nation that Notre Dame football is back, and the fans couldn’t be more excited about it.”

Junior Matt Cunningham, president of Leprechaun Legion, said being featured in “College GameDay” signifies that Notre Dame is a top contender in college football.  

“With the national spotlight on Notre Dame, beating Stanford gives us a chance to announce our presence as a legitimate top-10 team,” Cunningham said.  

Junior Mark Ambrose said he plans to camp out with friends to be “front and center” for “College GameDay.”

“Something like this only comes around once in a while,” Ambrose said. “I remember watching the show as a kid and in high school and always wanting to be a part of the festivities and craziness that goes along with it. It’s really great that they decided to come to ND for once and give us this opportunity.”

Ambrose said he doesn’t want to reveal the contents of his sign before the taping, but it pokes fun at “notorious ND haters Mark May and Rick Reilly of ESPN.”

Sophomore Conor McCarter said he will hold up a sign that reads, “Even the Lorax won’t save these trees,” referring to the Stanford Tree, a feature of the school’s marching band.  

“It bothers me how no one’s heard about Notre Dame,” McCarter said. “I hope [being featured on 'College GameDay'] can help to make us relevant again.”

Junior Ben Finan said bringing College GameDay to Notre Dame calls into question ESPN correspondent Rick Reilly’s pre-season assertion that Notre Dame football is irrelevant.

“ESPN just ran the Rick Reilly article about Notre Dame, and for them to then turn around and have his company choose to come here contradicts their highest-paid journalist,” Finan said. “['College GameDay' has] only got 13, 14 appearances a year. Notre Dame’s clearly relevant. It is a benefit because it does say, ‘Notre Dame’s back on the map.’”

But Finan said he does not plan to attend the taping because he went the last time “College GameDay” came to Notre Dame for the 2005 game against USC.

“I was kind of underwhelmed by the production,” he said. “It was just so many people and very hard to hear and understand what was going on while you were in the crowd, and basically all it is anytime they come back to a commercial or go to a commercial, they show the crowd and you hold up your sign.”

Finan said he fears the presence of “College GameDay” on campus will disturb the traditional pre-game atmosphere.

“People generally are wandering all around campus,” Finan said. “I feel like this will create a gravitation point of something that will take away from people going to the Grotto and the Basilica, and it will take away from people cooking out on the quad because people are going to be so drawn to this national name of ‘College GameDay’ and going to Library Quad, which is where people already are.”

Finan said he is more excited for “Mike and Mike in the Morning” to film on campus Friday.

Ambrose said the publicity will make the football weekend better for fans.

“I think it’ll add to the overall game atmosphere,” he said. “Obviously with Michigan being a night game, that in itself made it a crazy atmosphere, but with GameDay on campus it’s only going to make the game atmosphere even crazier for this huge game. It also doesn’t hurt to have the nation pay attention to us in light of our undefeated start, [which is] hopefully a good sign that Notre Dame football is indeed back.”

While the hype before the game may draw positive attention to Notre Dame, Finan said he fears it may contribute to an unfortunate result.

“There’s always a let-down game,” Finan said. “I feel like [because of] the amp up for the Miami game, despite being awesome and playing a great game, we could experience a hangover this weekend, and GameDay is contributing to that.”