ESPN considers how to make ‘GameDay’ work during pandemic

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2019, file photo, workers set up the ESPN "College GameDay" stage in front of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. The COVID-19 pandemic has put fall college football Saturdays in peril, but if the season can be salvaged so to will the sport's most popular pregame show. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2019, file photo, workers set up the ESPN "College GameDay" stage in front of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. The COVID-19 pandemic has put fall college football Saturdays in peril, but if the season can be salvaged so to will the sport's most popular pregame show. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

For millions of college football fans, couch potato Saturdays begin with ESPN's “College GameDay."

The COVID-19 pandemic has put this season in peril, but if it can be salvaged, so too will the sport's most popular pregame show.

“If there is college football there will be ‘College GameDay.’ Period," said ESPN's Lee Fitting, who oversees all the network's college studio shows and remote programs.

“GameDay” just won't look like the traveling circus fans have grown accustomed to over almost three decades, broadcasting from the site of a big game in front of thousands of pumped-up, signing-waving fans. Lee Corso's signature selection at the end of the show could end up being done from his home in central Florida, with the 84-year-old former coach donning a baseball cap instead of a mascot head.

“We're still determining what ‘GameDay’ would look like this season and, frankly, it could be different every week what it looks like,” Fitting told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “It could be potentially on the sidelines of an early game. It could be on the concourse in a stadium. It could even still be on campus.

“Will there be thousands of fans behind our set screaming like we’ve known it the last however many years?” Fitting said. “Absolutely not.”

Fitting conceded the show could even originate from a studio in Bristol, Connecticut, for the first time since the week college football returned after the 9/11 attacks.

“I don’t think we can ever rule that out. That’s not our first option,” Fitting said. “But our first priority is the health and safety of everyone we work alongside.”