ESPN’s College GameDay visits Notre Dame
Rachel O'Grady | Monday, February 8, 2016
ESPN’s College GameDay analyst Seth Greenberg promised an unforgettable show and an even more incredible game at a media session Friday afternoon. As students packed Purcell Pavilion for the broadcast and the Irish overcame a 15-point deficit Saturday evening to beat the basketball powerhouse and second-ranked North Carolina, Greenberg’s promise was fulfilled.
“This game is just gonna be a good game, and this place is just steeped in so much tradition, to see and experience it in a different way, it’s pretty great,” Greenberg said.
Hours before tip-off, Greenberg appeared on the ESPN College GameDay show with fellow analysts Jay Williams and Jay Bilas and host Rece Davis.
“What makes a great GameDay show for us is when you walk in and it’s a packed house. When you’ve got that ownership and energy and passion and the students are into it, for me that’s the closest I get to coaching again,” Greenberg said.
That positive energy is a major component of a good show, Greenberg said.
“But really it’s about the energy in the building. You know, you come out and play a game November and it’s half full, that’s one energy. But you come out and you’re playing North Carolina on national TV on a Saturday night, there’s another energy, and that’s the same thing for us at the show,” Greenberg said. “I think the ownership of the student body, the participation, you know we’re hopefully gonna have Coach Brey out there and he’s always fun to be around.”
Bilas said Notre Dame is one of the show’s favorite places to broadcast.
“Getting Digger [Phelps] here always helps, but this has always been a really special place for us, so we’re really lucky to be here. ‘Touchdown Jesus’ is ‘3-point Jesus’ right now,” Bilas said.
Greenberg said Irish head coach Mike Brey was not only a friend but also an incredible coach.
“Mike Brey is incredible, you know, his approach, his energy, his relationship with his players. … He’s so normal, he’s abnormal. He just has such a great outlook on things,” Greenberg said. “The essence of who he is is what makes him so special. I mean, just who he is, how can you not want to be around him? It’s infectious. How can you not want to play for Mike Brey?”
Greenberg said Brey’s coaching philosophy contributed to Notre Dame’s victory over Louisville in 2013, which was the last time College GameDay broadcast before an Irish home basketball game and the longest game in Big East regular season history.
“The last GameDay game against Louisville, you know, I see Rick Pitino losing his mind and you’ve just got Mike like, ‘here we go, here we go,’ and that’s what makes him special,” Greenberg said. “He’s very competitive; he’s tough, but he’s got a great connection with his players and he very much knows how he wants to play.”
Greenberg said this approach to coaching is important when it comes to men’s basketball.
“As a coach, you can’t be a chameleon. This has got to be who you are and how you win, and it’s important to stay committed to that, you know, you’ve got to play to that, recruit to that and you’re gonna empower those guys,” Greenberg said.
As far as the show goes, Greenberg said GameDay draws an audience because of both content and the people on it.
“We have great content, you know, the people that produce our show, they have great vision and imagination so having fun, but sharing inside information, getting inside these conversations,” Greenberg said. “We all look at it through a different prism, Jay’s got a different vision of it than I did after coaching for 30 years … and that’s what makes the show good, that we’re all looking at it through different prisms.”
Saturday, Jay Williams said the great student attendance made for a “fun show.”
“The show’s for the TV audience, really, but what makes it exciting for us is — we don’t see it, we’re not in the living room, we’re not in the TV audience — but what makes it so great is the students,” Greenberg said. “What makes a great show, besides hopefully good content, is the energy, passion, the ownership and that’s what makes it really, really good.”