Scatterday Says ESPN Visit Huge

WHEELING – Chuck Scatterday has a pretty good idea of what it will be like Saturday morning in Morgantown when ESPN’s College GameDay makes its first appearance in the city in advance of the No. 16 Mountaineers game against No. 3 LSU.

To hear him talk, GameDay isn’t bigger than the Beatles – but it’s close.

”It has become a juggernaut in its 25 years,” said Scatterday, who knows a little something on the topic. He worked at ESPN for nearly 20 years, most recently as coordinating producer for ESPNU, before returning home last year to work as sports producer for West Liberty University sports television.

”It’s an event or a game within a game,” Scatterday said of GameDay, which is hosted by Chris Fowler with Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, Lee Corso, Erin Andrews and David Pollack. They’ve selected the Mountainlair Plaza as the location for the show, which starts at 9 a.m. on ESPNU and then continues from 10 a.m.-noon on ESPN.

”People will come and want to be part of that experience,” Scatterday said. ”They’ll get there early and get their place in line, like at a concert.”

There had been speculation ESPN might select Morgantown for the GameDay venue as far back as the season opener against Marshall. It had sent letters to prospective schools about particular games prior to the season, and one was sent to WVU.

The thought was if West Virginia and LSU were both unbeaten, Saturday’s game could be a matchup of Top-15 teams, which is the type of game that could have BCS implications.

Scatterday wasn’t at ESPN when GameDay started in the mid 1980s, but he was there when the network made what many believed would be a risky move for the show. It started as an hour-long show that began at 11 a.m., in front of the big game, which was always played at noon, usually at a Big Ten school, he said.

The idea was to expand the show – begin it an hour earlier, make it bigger. Some thought the idea was crazy. People were driving to the game. Who would watch? It seemed those people underestimated the show’s star qualities.

”That yielded some great dividends,” Scatterday said. ”It actually bucked the trend.”

In those days, nearly all the production work, which included a lot of pre-recorded elements, was done at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn. Now, they’ve got what is basically a mobile studio and control room where they have everything they need on location.

That’s likely why the Mountainlair was chosen. There’s room, students naturally go there, as it’s at the heart of the downtown campus, and it’s far enough away from Mountaineer Field to be its own event, Scatterday surmised.

Though it’s the first time the football version of GameDay has selected Morgantown, the basketball show was in town as recently as 2009 during a late-season game against Louisville.

”It will be bigger than anything the basketball folks would have experienced,” Scatterday predicted. ”It’s outdoors, and … football is more popular.”

Scatterday doesn’t believe the reputation of WVU fans will be a problem for ESPN’s talent.

”They’ve been to some crazy places,” Scatterday said of the GameDay crew. ”Passionate places, just as passionate as they are at WVU. As an alum, I would hope cooler heads prevail and we see their best. The nation’s eyes will be upon you.”