ESPN GameDay spotlight will shine on Knoxville

Tennessee fans cheer on the team in a downpour during the Vol Walk before the game against Georgia State on Saturday. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Amy Smotherman Burgess

Tennessee fans cheer on the team in a downpour during the Vol Walk before the game against Georgia State on Saturday. (AMY SMOTHERMAN BURGESS/NEWS SENTINEL)

Vols talk about Tennessee vs. Florida

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Big-time college football is making an earnest return to Knoxville as two top-25 teams face off in an SEC rivalry game with division-title implications.

Certainly, that's what the nation's so-called "Sports Leader" was thinking when it decided to roll its GameDay caravan to hype up Saturday's game between No. 23 Tennessee (2-0) and No. 18 Florida (2-0).

It's the first time since UT played host to Auburn in 2004 that ESPN GameDay will originate in Knoxville for college football, and the eighth time since ESPN took its pregame show to campuses in 1993 that Neyland Stadium has been the featured backdrop.

"Our goal is to go to the best game every week,'' said Tom Engle, one of two producers for ESPN GameDay. "I haven't done a GameDay show in Knoxville since I've been working with the show, so I'm as excited as everyone about it.''

The game itself — won by the Gators each of the past seven seasons — doesn't kick off until 6 p.m. on ESPN, but the GameDay activities begin today on the University of Tennessee campus.

Engle said the crew will begin taping segments for Friday's "College Football Live" (TV: ESPN, 3:30 p.m.) at 9 this morning at Circle Park, with cast member and former Michigan Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard the first on site.

"The fans are absolutely welcome at those tapings,'' Engle said. "

The real rush, Engle said, usually takes place on Saturday around the crack of dawn. Early-arriving fans begin filing in for preferred spots behind the set for GameDay, which first airs at 9 a.m. Saturday on ESPNU before running on ESPN from 10 a.m. to noon.

"We've been places where fans have camped out; we have an area called 'The Pit,' where it's first-come,

first-serve,'' Engle said. "I would suggest fans show up early if they want to get a good spot and get on television, and use discretion — but be creative — with the signs, because we do have people monitor signs in the crowd.''

For those who can't beat the rush, ESPN GameDay will bring two mobile JumboTron screens, so people can "watch the show in almost HD quality, like you're in your living room.''

Indeed, who doesn't want to see original GameDay cast member Lee Corso clad in Davy Crockett gear or don the Gator mascot head?

"That's the best 30 seconds of television in my opinion, when Lee Corso puts on the mascot head,'' Engle said, chuckling while discussing the pick segment. "It's a fixture, not only on our show, but in college football.''

Tennessee is hoping to make drawing more than 100,000 commonplace once again, too.

Today's game marks the first sellout since last season's Georgia game — a span of six home games.

Chris Fuller, UT's senior associate athletic director, said Saturday's game is a hard sellout, and it figures to be the "toughest ticket" for a Vols' football game since the 2004 battle with Florida.

Fans that day were rewarded with a UT victory — the Vols' most recent in the heated rivalry.

In addition to the seven-game losing streak to Florida, Tennessee will be looking to end a four-game skid when GameDay is in town that dates back to a 38-14 victory over Notre Dame in 1999.

Fred White, who played strong safety against the Irish, said the Vols of yesteryear didn't get caught up in such extracurriculars as GameDay.

"But now, it's different,'' White explained. "Back then we were on national network TV or the main ESPN all the time.''

The Vols didn't appear on ESPN last season, and had just one national network appearance. In 1999, UT was on national network television or ESPN seven times.

"So we thought it was the norm when it was national, that was what made Tennessee, Tennessee, and brought a lot of us here,'' White said. "Now, this is big-time exposure, and these young guys have never experienced anything like this.

"More importantly, they've never seen the crowd hyped like it's gonna be for Florida, both teams ranked, and the Tennessee fans expecting them to win. I still remember beating Florida when I played. ... it gives me goosebumps every time I think about it.''

Follow Mike Griffith at http://twitter.com/MikeGriffith32

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Comments » 36

dannasman writes:

First!!!!! GO BIG ORANGE!!!

BigOrangeFreak writes:

What happened to the story on here about the KPD?

Sports Illustrated is already slamming us about it. Thanks alot, KPD. As if Florida needed any ammunition.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012...

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say Gonna be a great game..Witch Doctor say lets all remember its the SEC so nothing is guaranteed and glad team is mature enough now to know that. Witch Doctor say this team has seen the down sides(LSU..etc) Witch Doctor believe this team now ready to play with anyone. Witch Doctor go on record.
Vols 34
gators 17
Witch Doctor say no one knows for sure so lets see everyones pics below.
Bones never lie.
Ps. Lets all act like we been here before and coming back real soon. Witch Doctor say no goalpost talk, no crazy celebration talk or mischief..Witch Doctor say lets not go all "Kentucky" lol....(Besides Witch Doctor pretty sure the KPD read this thing..lol. be sneaky about it. haha Kidding!)
GO VOLS!

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say Gonna be a great game..Witch Doctor say lets all remember its the SEC so nothing is guaranteed and glad team is mature enough now to know that. Witch Doctor say this team has seen the down sides(LSU..etc) Witch Doctor believe this team now ready to play with anyone. Witch Doctor go on record.
Vols 34
gators 17
Witch Doctor say no one knows for sure so lets see everyones pics below.
Bones never lie.
Ps. Lets all act like we been here before and coming back real soon. Witch Doctor say no goalpost talk, no crazy celebration talk or mischief..Witch Doctor say lets not go all "Kentucky" lol....(Besides Witch Doctor pretty sure the KPD read this thing..lol. be sneaky about it. haha Kidding!)
GO VOLS!

*picks not pics..Witch Doctor include self in that we probably scare the bejebus out of each other Vol Nation. lol
Bones never lie.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say Gonna be a great game..Witch Doctor say lets all remember its the SEC so nothing is guaranteed and glad team is mature enough now to know that. Witch Doctor say this team has seen the down sides(LSU..etc) Witch Doctor believe this team now ready to play with anyone. Witch Doctor go on record.
Vols 34
gators 17
Witch Doctor say no one knows for sure so lets see everyones pics below.
Bones never lie.
Ps. Lets all act like we been here before and coming back real soon. Witch Doctor say no goalpost talk, no crazy celebration talk or mischief..Witch Doctor say lets not go all "Kentucky" lol....(Besides Witch Doctor pretty sure the KPD read this thing..lol. be sneaky about it. haha Kidding!)
GO VOLS!

Public service announcements from WD?? LMAO on that one..Bwahahahahahaha!! If UT wins (which I believe they will) will correlate into a William Wallace moment (without the beheading), FREEDOM!!

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Public service announcements from WD?? LMAO on that one..Bwahahahahahaha!! If UT wins (which I believe they will) will correlate into a William Wallace moment (without the beheading), FREEDOM!!

Witch Doctor part of community service for burning down homecoming float! . hahaha
Bones never lie.

GiveHim6TDTennessee writes:

I'm getting out there at 2-3 AM saturday morning and fully anticipate being on the first row. GBO

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEARE:

Public service announcements from WD?? LMAO on that one..Bwahahahahahaha!! If UT wins (which I believe they will) will correlate into a William Wallace moment (without the beheading), FREEDOM!!

Witch Doctor wanna be clear..((censored)) that ((censored)) down to the ((censored)) ground if we win. lol.
Bones never lie.
Go Vols!

Colliervol writes:

Speaking of spotlight, did anybody see the front page article in the sports section of today's USA Today? Big spread on Big Dan McCullers. This guy is just a great story and seems to be a great guy. If you can find one, read it.

Colliervol writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I have a feeling it may have something to do with the goings on in both programs. The Vols because the program appears to be heading in the right direction for the first time in about 5 years. And the Gators because they want to be around when Muschump's neck vein explodes. Now that's entertainment.

ok_with_failure writes:

Same as every year with you guys. When will you learn? Florida's D won't stop Bray all day, but UT doesn't establish any run game and Driskel manages the game with mistake free ball, similar to the game against TAMU. This will be one of the closet games in recent years but I think the Gators D doesn't give up many passes down field and beats UT for the 8th consecutive time.
Gators 28
Vols 24

Fryinpansvols writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Well thank you Mr. Florida Gator! Thanks for bringing the National audience to see Tennessee kick some Gator Tail! GBO!

Fryinpansvols writes:

in response to ok_with_failure:

Same as every year with you guys. When will you learn? Florida's D won't stop Bray all day, but UT doesn't establish any run game and Driskel manages the game with mistake free ball, similar to the game against TAMU. This will be one of the closet games in recent years but I think the Gators D doesn't give up many passes down field and beats UT for the 8th consecutive time.
Gators 28
Vols 24

Hey Gator, did you forget that your team couldn't even score but 27 points on that slobber-knocking defense from Bowling Green State? So what makes you think that your Gators are going to come into Neyland Stadium and score 28 points against our Vols? I think Florida would be lucky to score 21 points let alone 28. Now, if Tyler Bray and Company get hot watch out, because Tennessee's offense could hang 35 or more points. GBO and beat those Gators!

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor wanna be clear..((censored)) that ((censored)) down to the ((censored)) ground if we win. lol.
Bones never lie.
Go Vols!

We'll be staked out at the grassy knoll..I've said too much..Black Ops is the rumor..GBO!!

Colliervol writes:

No predictions from me. But, just from watching them play, UT looks better to me than Texas A&M especially on offense. A&M has nobody as talented as Bray, Hunter, Patterson and Rivera and Florida's vaunted defense had their hands full with them all day until they finally keyed on Manziel and made him look like the freshman he is. It's easy to stop somebody from running when you can stack the box because the QB can't throw. I can assure you that Bray can throw and he has dangerous receivers. Can't double team all of them and, if the line gives him a little time, Bray will find the open man. For the first time in about 5 years, the Vols have talent to line up nose to nose against Florida and, like most games, it's going to come down to turnovers and who can get a few big plays. My only real worry for the Vols is the field goal kicking. No denying that it's shaky.

Stepchild_nFL writes:

Gators D will give up many passes down field and will scoot back to the swamp with no tail Barking Rocky Top like a *****. Gator stew anyone?

Vols 28
Gators 24

MarbleCitySon writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Matt leinart- heisman, and now? Accomplishments at one level do not automatically translate to success at the next. The same can be said for every quarterback drafted out of florida, with the exception of tebow's cult-like following.

orangecountyvols writes:

Vols,

Don't be too concerned with anything the kid,
Bodeane comes up with...........oops, formerly Bodeane ( who was banned ) now 5th or 6th screen name for the troll/kid, Titletown.

We'll see what happens Saturday night, then see how fresh the air is here on GVX later on. Troll town will resemble a ghost town in the old West.

Snapshot writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

So come on tell us troll, do you actually live in Green Bay, the one and only Title Town, or did you just think that would be a "cool" screen name? lol

You have to EARN that name, you can't give it to a team just started playing football in the 90's like the lizards!

Snapshot writes:

Vols 31
lizards 13

Classof72 writes:

Welcome GameDay! It'll be in Circle Trailer Park where Fowler parks the trailer. And they're bringin' a real Michigan Heisman Trophy winner! The Vols don't have a Heisman Trophy winner. Don't know why, but it could have something to do with GameDay. I would be polite to GameDay, but reserved. I would not moon 'em and yell, "Hey Chris! Kiss this!" That would be rude and undignified. All is forgiven; nothing is forgotten. Seriously, we are friendly even though they are not really friends. (Betcha they bait the Vols with Kiffin stuff. Wait and see.)

They are not the game. It is a big game, so enjoy. GO VOLS!

ok_with_failure writes:

in response to Fryinpansvols:

Hey Gator, did you forget that your team couldn't even score but 27 points on that slobber-knocking defense from Bowling Green State? So what makes you think that your Gators are going to come into Neyland Stadium and score 28 points against our Vols? I think Florida would be lucky to score 21 points let alone 28. Now, if Tyler Bray and Company get hot watch out, because Tennessee's offense could hang 35 or more points. GBO and beat those Gators!

We hear the same thing every single year. You guys claimed Bray would torch us last year, and look what happened. We will clamp down on your receivers better than we did last year and stop your run better too.

voloffaith writes:

in response to ok_with_failure:

We hear the same thing every single year. You guys claimed Bray would torch us last year, and look what happened. We will clamp down on your receivers better than we did last year and stop your run better too.

Thank you for showing your true colors chomper style..."clamp down on receivers better than we did last year" hold em longer and more often I guess as that was the team you affiliate with as their preferred method in defending the VOL passing attack. Vols in a close one 4-7 pt victory.....PS larger margin of victory is acceptable

HopeisNotaCourseofAction writes:

in response to ok_with_failure:

We hear the same thing every single year. You guys claimed Bray would torch us last year, and look what happened. We will clamp down on your receivers better than we did last year and stop your run better too.

When you say "we will..", are you playing?

If so, what number are you wearing so all VOL fans can cheer when you are looking out your ear hole after a VOL player slobberknocks your @$$ off.

TheCopper writes:

in response to ok_with_failure:

We hear the same thing every single year. You guys claimed Bray would torch us last year, and look what happened. We will clamp down on your receivers better than we did last year and stop your run better too.

ok_with_failure? Did your wife suggest that screen name for you?

Orangepuddinskin writes:

in response to Witch_Doctors:

Witch Doctor say Gonna be a great game..Witch Doctor say lets all remember its the SEC so nothing is guaranteed and glad team is mature enough now to know that. Witch Doctor say this team has seen the down sides(LSU..etc) Witch Doctor believe this team now ready to play with anyone. Witch Doctor go on record.
Vols 34
gators 17
Witch Doctor say no one knows for sure so lets see everyones pics below.
Bones never lie.
Ps. Lets all act like we been here before and coming back real soon. Witch Doctor say no goalpost talk, no crazy celebration talk or mischief..Witch Doctor say lets not go all "Kentucky" lol....(Besides Witch Doctor pretty sure the KPD read this thing..lol. be sneaky about it. haha Kidding!)
GO VOLS!

That is the exact score I picked, and I have said the same thing about, "act like you have been there before, because this is where you are supposed to be". The problem with that Witchy, is that a huge portion of the kids pulling down that goal post this Saturday dont remember that we have been there before. I wish they were around in the glory days.

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to CoveredInOrange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Witch Doctor say you must not watch sports much...Spurrier and Myers have been gone a couple years now all you have is Muschump. Witch Doctor pretty sure you'll spend most of monday and next week arguing who your next coach might be! lol. Witch Doctor say have a great year..see you this time next year!
Go Vols
Bones never lie.
Vols 34
gatas 17

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to CoveredInOrange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's a good thing the UT fans won't be facing the gator's..On the other hand they do have a game against the "Fighting Volunteers", and the only time I can remember a gator fighting was when we hooked an 8 footer on a triple hook and shot it to death for dinner..Fond memories of Lake Okeechobee..GBO!!

SmokeyPride writes:

Vols Win!

UT - 24
FL - 21

Brodus wins it in the 4th quarter. Clutch!!

tfortennessee writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Sounds to me like FU may be looking for a new coach sooner than the later! Maybe UT will need a new waterboy and could give little Willie a spot on the Big Orange sideline as long as he doesn't get in anybody's way. lol

http://www.squidoo.com/why-i-don-t-li...

ONce a crybaby, always a crybaby!
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/spor...

tfortennessee writes:

in response to titletownz:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

mocsandvolsfan writes:

My pick again.. UT wins 24-10

Go Big Orange go Vols

smokie-licks-his-vols writes:

Maybe tearing down the goal post before the game would be a solution to our kicking problems

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BigOrangeFreak:

What happened to the story on here about the KPD?

Sports Illustrated is already slamming us about it. Thanks alot, KPD. As if Florida needed any ammunition.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012...

There was a pretty dark day in about 1958, IIRC, when Chattanooga beat the Vols at Neyland Stadium and the fans stormed the field for a different reason. Maybe the KPD was trying to be prepared for either result. I hope the Vol fans DO NOT storm the field for any reason, just as no one embarrassed him- or herself and the school by razzing the ESPN GameDay crew this morning.

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