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Scattershooting Clemson, GameDay, and The Iron Skillet

My love affair with Lee Corso, Rivalry Games, and tailgate food.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Clemson
Lee and 8-Ball
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

It seems crazy now, but there used to be a time when Saturday mornings weren’t filled with Zing Zang and Ting Tang, bro-country guest pickers, thousands of people holding up signs, and nobody was slapping a mascot’s head on to pick the winner of a game. ESPN’s College GameDay wasn’t anything like it’s current form 25 years ago. My freshman year at A&M, it was just Chris Fowler hosting a studio show to discuss the day’s games with Lee Corso and Craig James, because this was before the interwebs took over and CJK5H. During that time, nobody intentionally woke up early on Saturdays to make sure and tune in to ESPN’s College GameDay. You slept off a hangover and then casually turned on this pre-game show in a studio for the last hour or so, before catching a small sample of 11:00 am kickoffs that were actually televised.

But that all changed in November of 1993. At that time, #1 Florida State had a game at #2 Notre Dame. It felt pretty rare in those days (pre-BCS) for the top two teams in the nation to meet up. National attention was centered on this game. ESPN decided to send it’s College GameDay crew to broadcast live from South Bend for this matchup. And on that fall day, college football (and how sports are covered) changed forever. Before GameDay, nobody had live sets outside of stadiums. Now you see it for the World Series, Stanley Cup, NBA playoffs, Final Four, etc. But GameDay was the first to try it out. And one person in particular helped create the magic with the fans more than anyone else. Lee Corso.

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Lee Corso. He’s probably the main reason I’m even getting to write for this pirate ship of a website. After that Saturday in 1993, GameDay began to transform over time. It became bigger, wilder, and way more fun. And since that time, Lee Corso continually reminded me of why I love this silly sport so damn much. It’s fun. Rivalries are fun. Tailgating is fun. Cheerleaders, marching bands, and a duck mascot riding a motorcycle at 8:00 am is fun. Corso embraced the silliness and refused to focus on the seriousness. There are plenty of other shows on various networks and platforms that can spend infinite amounts of time talking about the money, the scandals, and the ills of college football. But on Saturday mornings, on a college campus, surrounded by signs, flags, and crazy college kids, Lee Corso knows that’s the best time to embrace this sport for it’s pageantry, craziness, festivity, and uniqueness.

I’m hopeful that College GameDay will come around a few more times in the Jimbo Era. If he can take A&M to some new heights, it’s certainly a fun place to host the show. But there are no guarantees, and we never know when Mr. Corso may decide to call it quits to spend time with family or due to health concerns. So if this happens to be the last time Lee Corso comes to Texas A&M for College GameDay, I just want to say “Thank You sir”. You’ve helped make this sport a special part of my life. College Football is fun. Beat The Hell Outta Clemson! Enjoy. The. Ride.

Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Zach Line....

- It would be nice if A&M would stop scheduling FCS teams in the future. And I’m not suggesting we fill our 12 game schedule with the SEC conference games and four tough teams from the Power 5 conferences. But instead of trotting out Northwestern State to open the season, could we at least find some regional teams like UH, Rice, SMU, Texas State instead? Last Thursday was a trash game to open the season. Aggies love to brag about our athletic income stream, the shiny new Kyle Field, and whipping out our fat wallet. But hiring Jimbo Fisher for $75 million and kicking off the year with Northwestern State feels like going to Del Frisco’s and they’re only serving hot dog that night.

- In the last 41 years, the Longhorns have had 14 double digit win seasons. Nine of those came under Mack Brown from 2001-2009. But sure, let’s keep pretending that Texas has been a dynasty for the last few decades. Fact is, outside of that 12 year run Mack had, they’re a 61% winning percentage football program under the other five coaches during that time.

- If you’re a Clemson fan coming into town for the first time, I highly recommend taking a 30-45 minute walk around the Bonfire Memorial. I recommend it to most new visitors anytime they ask what they should see or do. I feel it’s important that those 12 young adults are never forgotten. If you can, early in the morning is a great time to take a walk and read about those that lost their lives in that tragic accident.

- For all of you gambling degenerates out there like myself, remember not to overreact too much to those week one results. Look for some value on teams that lost in week one. Or fade a team that looked a little too good last weekend.

Rivalry Game of the Week

I’m going to start a new section this year to hopefully focus on at least one good college football rivalry game each weekend. Here at GBH we happen to love rivalries and believe them to be an essential part of this sport. It’s why I’ll keep banging the drum for A&M and Texas to play each other again as soon as possible. Until then, maybe we can all learn a little more about some of the lesser known rivalry games on tap each week.

This weekend I have a choice of Iowa-Iowa State in El Assico or the revival of the Colorado-Nebraska Big 8 grunge match. But instead, I went with the Iron Skillet game with TCU and SMU. This Friday night will mark the 98th matchup, with TCU holding the edge in the series 50-40-7, primarily thanks to their domination in the last 25 years of the matchup. How the Iron Skillet Trophy received its name seems a bit conflicted depending on who you ask, but my favorite story is that it’s derived from an SMU fan cooking frog legs in a skillet pre-game back in the late 40’s or early 50’s. Apparently a TCU fan took offense to such shenanigans at that time, and challenged that whoever won the game that day would take home the skillet. This year’s version on paper seems to be more of the same with TCU likely to take care of business over on the Hilltop. But upsets have happened, even as recently as 2011, when the #20 ranked Horn Frogs were popped by an outmatched and unranked June Jones team 40-33 in overtime. This game goes back a long way and through various conferences for both teams after the demise of the SWC. Pretty cool how they’ve managed to keep it alive.

Food Fight

GBH readers love to talk about food. And argue about it. And vote on it. And comment on it. And fight about it. So this space can hopefully be used for tailgating recipes, football watching party platters, smoker techniques, and everything else involving food, football and drinks.

We have a night game at Kyle Field this weekend, which means all day tailgating. So we’re not limited by an 11:00 am kickoff. You’ve got all day to prepare some delicious food for your family and friends. Here’s my recommendation, please feel free to share yours in the comments. Briskets are nice, but they require a special touch. And if you’re wanting to crank back some beers and enjoy the day watching games, I suggest a meat a little more forgiving. Pork. You can start with a couple racks of ribs. Be sure to peel that membrane off the backside, it’ll be appreciated by your guests. I like to rub with plain yellow mustard and then hit with a dry rub mix. Slow smoke for two hours, then wrap in foil for another 1.5-2 hours. While doing these, you can also throw on a couple of pork loins for a slow smoke. Pork loins work great at a tailgate, because you can slice them and throw them on a Hawaiian roll with some horseradish sauce or spicy mustard. It’s a little too hot still to break out the Oktoberfest and Marzen style beers, so I’d recommend something like the Saint Arnold Pub Crawl Pale Ale. The ABV isn’t cranked up too high for an all day tailgating session, and it’s a nice hot weather beer. Let me know what your eating and drinking plans are for Saturday.