College GameDay comes to town

College GameDay comes to town

Reynolda campus was abuzz last Saturday as the College Gameday crew set up shop in Winston-Salem to preview, among other games, the Wake Forest versus No. 1 Clemson contest that was set to occur later that night. It was a bit surreal to turn on the television Saturday morning and see the familiar face of American sports legend Lee Corso discussing the potential outcome of a Wake Forest game with an empty Truist Field in the background. Of course, College Gameday protocols had to be altered drastically due to the ongoing pandemic. There were, for example, no rabid fans cheering raucously in the background holding homemade signs as a panel of college football experts discussed the slate of games for that day. The members of the show were all socially distanced, of course, and the silent backdrop gave the show a sense of unprecedented serenity.

 Former Demon Deacon and NBA superstar Chris Paul made an appearance on the show as College Gameday’s weekly “guest picker,” which is typically a famous alum from the host school who comes on briefly to aid the show’s hosts in making predictions regarding the games for that day. This time around, Paul had to clock in over Zoom, voicing his opinions from a remote location due to the pandemic.

 I feel obligated to add that it’s an absolute travesty that no fans or students were able to attend the broadcast on Saturday. Typically, College Gameday is a fast-paced program whose intensity is derived from the passion of devoted fans eager for the chance to represent their schools and communities. The cast of the show usually feeds off the manic, unbridled energy brought forth by the deafening shouts that rise from the mob of spectators; this time around, the show seemed to be missing some of the pageantry that’s made it a staple in the Saturday college football experience. With all that’s going on, however, this was completely inevitable, and certainly a necessity. The state of affairs on Wake Forest’s campus and across the country is incredibly delicate and moving forward with the standard production process would have been exceptionally unwise.

 To no one’s surprise, Lee Corso picked Clemson to win the game, donning a gaudy, mascot-style Clemson Tiger headpiece in perhaps the show’s most well-known segment. Corso’s choice proved a prudent one, as the Deacs fell to the Tigers in a contest that was never particularly close.

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 Regardless of the game’s outcome or the irregularities of the show itself, the past weekend’s College Gameday experience made me proud to be a Demon Deacon. Though we weren’t granted the opportunity to witness the show in all its wild and brazen glory, the effort was certainly present on the behalf of the Wake Forest student body. Students flocked in droves to Benson University Center to claim the complimentary Gameday shirts distributed by the university in the days prior to the game. Some students hung signs from their balconies, boasting playful jabs at the opposing Clemson Tigers. When game time rolled around, many attended outdoor viewing parties in hopes of sharing some sense of unity while viewing the contest. I myself watched the game from my dorm room, in the company of close friends, feeling that familiar sense of pride welling up in my chest as the Deacs took the field. Despite all the adversity and uncertainty that continues to loom, for a few hours on Saturday the students of Wake Forest were able to escape the warped version of reality we find ourselves experiencing and focus on simply being college students, unified by the presence of football once again.

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