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AMES, Ia. — ESPN's "College GameDay" is coming to Iowa State on Saturday. It's the first time the show has come to the school for a football game, so there's a lot to learn for fans who want to be a part of the experience.
What time should I arrive to try to land a good spot behind the stage? What kind of sign can I have? Is there anything else to do while ESPN is in town? Well, we have the answers to all those questions and more.
Here's everything you need to know about when "College GameDay" comes to Ames.
How long will ESPN be in Ames?
It'll be a busy week for ESPN. The company's trucks will arrive on campus around Wednesday evening. They'll spend Thursday setting up the site. By the time the crew leaves on Thursday, the set, located on a stage on the plaza south of Jack Trice Stadium, should be complete. Shortly after "College GameDay" is done on Saturday, the crew will begin tearing down the set. "By gametime, you won't even know we were there," said ESPN's college sports manager of communications Derek Volner.
What's the television schedule for the week?
Saturday's show won't be the only chance for fans to get a look at Iowa State. ESPN will spend Friday and Saturday doing various television hits from Ames. The first will come on Friday with appearances on different ESPN shows like "SportsCenter," "First Take" and "Get Up!"
"College Football Live" will also broadcast from Ames, though it typically doesn't take place on the set. That will instead happen nearby the set to be more fan-friendly. Then, on Saturday, ESPN will start doing live shots from the site around 6 a.m. "College GameDay" will go live at 8 a.m.
What is there to do?
Being in the pit isn't the only thing fans can do to be a part of with "College GameDay" experience. Many of the show's sponsors will set up games, like cornhole, and have giveaways for fans around the site on Friday's show of "College Football Live." Fans are encouraged to come, watch and play some games. The "College GameDay Home Depot" bus rolls into campus at 1 p.m. There will be giveaway items and special appearances by Cy and the spirit squads when the bus arrives.
What time should I get there on Saturday?
Iowa State's lots open at 5 a.m. Volner recommends fans who want to get into the pit, the area directly behind the GameDay stage, should get in line early. At most sites, fans typically start showing up around 5 a.m. Fans going into the pit will have to go through a security check point that will typically start at 5:30 a.m. The security team will check each person going in and whatever signs they may have. Food or drink of any kind is not allowed. No one will be allowed to queue until 3:30 a.m. The pit is open to everyone, even non-students. Entrance is free and fans can come and go. A limited number of fans (roughly 500-700) will be allowed in the pit, though.
What signs are OK?
The signs have become a staple of the show, but not every sign gets through. Fans may bring their own signs, but no derogatory, vulgar or political messages are allowed. Also, no sponsorship signs or any references to website URLs are allowed. Signs may be removed at the discretion of ESPN.
What's the deal with the celebrity picker?
Who the celebrity picker is can be very fluid. And contrary to popular belief, there are no rules when it comes to who is picked. Generally, the picker is a celebrity and does have ties to the school, but that doesn't always happen. Comedian Frank Caliendo did the Utah and Washington game in 2016. The key is finding someone whose schedule is open as well. ESPN typically announces the guest picker on Thursdays but that doesn't always happen — and it may not even be someone with a tie to Iowa State.
"We could go a lot of different directions, and that's on purpose," Volner said. "We like to be a little unpredictable on the show. It's a football and entertainment show."