It was recently announced Nick Saban would be joining the College GameDay crew. With someone with as must prestige and influence as the Saban, it’s hard to see any kind of scenario where Saban isn’t a big part of the team.
The issue is that the GameDay crew is already pretty full. With Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Patt McAfee, and Lee Corso already on the set, adding Saban feels like it is just too much, especially with guest pickers and other segments that feature Jen Lada, Jess Sims, and Pete Thamel.
Of course, there is the possibility that Nick Saban is replacing someone, and there is really only one person he could be replacing: old coach Lee Corso.
College Gameday Has a Specific Setup
Ever since College Gameday really took off in the early 2000’s, the setup has been pretty consistent.
- Desmond Howard is the former star player who brings energy and perspective to the game from a former star’s perspective.
- Kirk Herbstreit has long been considered the expert analyst of college football, an expert analyst who has seen everything over the years.
- Rece Davis is like Kirk Herbstreit but is more known for his play-by-play expertise. He essentially replaced Chris Folwer in 2015, who had the same role.
- Pat McAfee is a high-energy, controversial sports voice who doesn’t seem to care about any kind of narrative or political correctness. He replaced David Pollack, who served in the same role from 2011-2022.
- Finally, Lee Corse is the former coach whose role over the years has gone from giving a coaching perspective to being more of a funny side gig putting on the team mascot head.
Again, these roles have not really changed. Every person has a unique job and specific purpose. Nick Saban isn’t just going to join the desk, and everyone else keeps their role. It won’t fit the model that the show has built over the years.
Lee Corse is…Well….Old
Everyone loves Lee Corso, but let’s be honest for a minute: it’s time for him to retire and ride off into the sunset. The last few years have been painful to watch. There have been multiple occasions where Corso doesn’t seem to know exactly where he is, or what the other hosts are talking about. Luckily, Herbstreit has been there to help him out, but it really has gotten to the point where it feels like ESPN is trying to milk out every last drop of ratings they can get.
From a business standpoint, it makes sense. There is almost nothing more iconic in college football than the Lee Corso mascot reveal.
At the same time, Corso is going to be 89 by the time the next show airs in late August. He’s been part of the College GameDay show since its inception in 1987. All things come to an end, and if ESPN is going to replace them, they are going to have to have a great addition. And who better than the greatest college coach of all time? He’s said he has no plans on leaving, but a lot can change in eight months.
Also, there was perhaps a moment this past season when there was an allusion to the end when the College GameDay crew surprised Corso with some old footage of his coaching days. The normally upbeat and happy host was taken back to the point of tears. It felt like the end, yet not a word about the end was said. Check it out for yourself.
Nick Saban’s Role on College GameDay
If you go back and watch the old episodes of College GameDay, Lee Corso was more of a coach analyst. In fact, he didn’t even break out the headgear until 1996, nearly a decade into the show.
Expect Nick Saban to take this role. I’d be shocked to see any kind of mascot headgear on his head. It doesn’t seem like his personality, but then again, who knows? In all likelihood, though, he will probably be more of a coach analyst, going into how a team may prepare for a big game or giving an insight into what may be going on in the locker room from the coach’s perspective.
Also, with the headgear, honestly, it’s a Lee Corso thing, and some things should be retired, just as a jersey number is retired and never used again. Nobody can replace Corso in that way, and asking Nick Saban to do so wouldn’t feel right.
There is also the possibility that Lee Corso will be brought on exclusively for the headgear pick, as sort of a transition between him and Nick Saban. At some point, it will be the end of Corso; that is just a fact; he is 87, after all, and has had a very long and successful career. If he does go on to retire, it’s been a phenomenal run, and if he decides to say “Not so fast, Sweetheart” and go for another few years, let’s all enjoy it while we’ve still got him.