ESPN College GameDay in Fargo… and The Headgear Pick (video)

Tuscaloosa, Baton Rouge, South Bend, Ann Arbor… these are some of the cities that come to mind when you think of the near-iconic Saturday morning college football preview show on ESPN, College GameDay. On September 21, 2013, the “circus” (as host Chris Fowler called it on my radio program) came to Fargo, North Dakota.

Fargo, North Dakota?

When you consider Fargo’s North Dakota State has won the past two NCAA FCS national championships and has a championship history that, pound for pound, rivals that of Alabama, it makes perfect sense.

But beyond everything that can be discussed on what was an electric week for Fargo being the epicenter of college football on one beautiful fall day, most everyone you spoke to debated one thing: What would the coach, Lee Corso, come up with for his classic “headgear pick.” There was little doubt he would say NDSU would defeat Delaware State. But would he wear the mascot headgear of the Bison? Or… might he and his ESPN colleagues come up with something a bit different. Certainly an actual Bison was out of the question, right? Too big, and potentially too dangerous. Well……

What followed was a series of phone calls between ESPN, NDSU and the Chahinkapa Zoo  in Wahpeton (ND), other officials being brought into the Circle of Secrecy, and a multitude of questions including, but not limited to: Did they have a bison? If so, how would they get it to Fargo? How would it be incorporated into the program with Corso? Transporting a bison into a downtown area of thousands of crazed football fans wouldn’t necessarily be a good mix in the event something went wrong. Nevertheless, the plan moved forward.

My producer received a call about it during the week and she passed the information on to me. I then received a late-night call on Friday with detailed instructions on where to go, when to get there, what to do, what not to do, who not to speak with, what to bring, what not to bring… I imagine this is how a CIA field operation is set up and executed.

What very few people outside of the ESPN GameDay crew knew was a 250-pound bison calf, newly named Corso, would be brought to the back of the Fargo Theatre. It would then be walked into the theatre through the stage’s loading dock, up the aisle and into the lobby to wait for Lee Corso. What follows is The Journey of Corso.

The Green Room…

The Walk to the Theatre…

Up the Aisle…

On the Red Carpet…

Filed Under: Christopher GabrielWDAY

About the Author: Christopher serves up sports on 940 ESPN Radio in Fresno with a good deal of pop culture, films, music and the quirky side of life mixed in. Distinguished guests and contributors from across the nation and around the world regularly join the program. He tackles the most complex stories to ones slightly off the radar delivering depth and humor with a thoughtful perspective. When he was in Fargo, the city not the movie, the program was nominated for Best Radio Show in the Red River Valley in 2012, 2013 and 2014 by readers of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. As a writer, Christopher's work has been been published by the Chicago Sun-Times, Sun-Times Network publications, Reuters, USA Volleyball and Team USA, the Official Website of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

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