Erin Andrews was raised under Florida’s constant sun. America’s Sideline Princess isn’t used to the crisp October weather for which this blog is named.
Her first order of business in East Lansing was to hop on Twitter and jokingly beg for temperate mercy. She wore a scarf throughout our indoor media session. Still, when asked about her impression of Michigan State, the first words out of Andrews’s mouth were “It’s like home,” then “it’s like family.”
That made me smile. To me, Michigan State fandom is all about family, and how more appropriate could that statement be on Homecoming?
Andrews, of course, has been here many times covering basketball. “I felt like a distant relative of Tom Izzo,” she said, for all the times she’s been to the Breslin Center. “I’d really appreciate if we could play the game tomorrow in the Breslin Center,” she said, “these temps are not exactly my favorite. But I’m excited to be here; it’ll be a great game.”
Today’s GameDay will feature Lee Corso’s 200th headgear-donning game prediction. Asked about the significance of that, Andrews pointed out that she’s the only member of the GameDay cast to have actually camped out for GameDay as a student. “I like to remind the guys of that,” she said with a smile, “to date them a little bit.”
Of course, since Andrews was a student, ESPN College GameDay Built by Home Depot has grown into an even bigger deal, a bigger production, more of a circus. She gestured to the enormous stage on Munn Field, being put through it’s paces by production staff, and said “I mean, look at that! That looks like Barnum and Bailey. We’re the lions and tigers. It’s nuts.”
Andrews talked about the impact the show has had on the popularity of the game itself. “I think the biggest reason why college football is so popular, and why guys who play this sport become super stars, is because of this show. We’re out every week doing features on them.” She explained that GameDay is as exciting and motivating for the players as it is for the fans. “It’s such a big deal if Chris or Kirk talks about you,” she said, “or if Coach Corso says your name. I think this show is one of the biggest reasons why this sport is where it is.”
Of course, the game itself must be worthy of the spectacle, and MSU – Wisconsin is. “I’m excited,” she said. “It’s going to be a game you definitely want to tune in for, especially with all the comments by Michigan State’s defense about ‘Get ready, Russell Wilson, we’re coming after you, Russell Wilson’.” Like Heck at The Only Colors, I love love love a swaggering, trash-talking defense that backs it up. When she said that, I swallowed hard. Let’s hope they back it up.
I cheered up again when she said Wisconsin was “heartbroken” last year after their loss to Michigan State. “They wanted to come back, to do it under the bright lights, Russell Wilson’s got this Heisman campaign, I mean, this is it. This where you find out if you’re good enough to go to New York.”
For the Michigan State Spartans, of course, this game is a test of something else: whether they’re good enough to go to Indianapolis.