This Saturday’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot (10 a.m. on ESPN) will originate from the Army at Air Force matchup in Colorado Springs, Colo., as part of ESPN’s weeklong America’s Heroes: A Salute to Our Veterans and will feature veteran-themed elements throughout the two-hour program.
The program — hosted by Chris Fowler with analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard – will open with a message from President Barack Obama and an F-16 flyover. Show elements include:America’s Heroes: A Salute to Our VeteransThree features about athletes with military backgrounds:
- Bryan Logsdon: The West Virginia red-shirt sophomore fullback and tight end was a typical military child, attending three high schools while his father was in the Navy. He played basketball in high school, but not football. Soon after graduation in 2000, Logsdon joined the Navy and served as a cryptologic maintenance technician on the USS Normandy and the USS Enterprise. He also saw combat duty and multiple deployments to the Persian Gulf during Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. Logsdon received an honorable discharge after six years, enrolled at West Virginia and became part of the West Virginia National Guard. Logsdon made the team as a walk-on this year after not making it in 2007.
- Brandon Crawford: the Ball State fifth-year senior defensive end, who turned 33 in August and is older than five Ball State assistants, is second in tackles for loss and sacks on the team. Crawford worked in an automobile factory right out of high school before joining the Marines in 1999, when he went to Military Occupational Specialties school and was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina. He was honorably discharged in 2003, enrolled at Ball State in the summer of 2004 and went home in fall of that year. Crawford returned to Ball State in 2006, and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2008.
- Alejandro Villanueva: The West Point senior cadet was raised in Europe and first played American football in his sophomore year at an American military high school in Belgium. He came to West Point when a teammate told Army football recruiters about his 6-foot-10 colleague. Villanueva has played numerous positions at West Point, including defensive tackle, defensive end, offensive guard and offensive tackle. In spring practices, new head coach Rich Ellerson took one look at Villanueva and decided to make him the tallest wide receiver in major college football. It has been a learning experience for everyone involved.
- Guest picker: Lt. Col. Scott Thomas, who had to eject himself from his plane when it went down over Iraq during Desert Storm and had to evade Iraqi troops for hours until his rescue by U.S. forces, will be on the set during the show’s final segment to provide his game winners for that day. Thomas was an All-America defensive back at Air Force on the 1985 team that finished No. 5 in the polls after going 12-1 and beat Texas in Bluebonnet Bowl. Thomas is currently in the Air Force reserves and trains pilots at Sheppard Air Force base in Texas.
- Wired: Two coaches with ties to the military will be wired with a microphone, and each will provide an up-close look at his respective program and discuss military aspects of the programs:
- Rick Trickett, Florida State offensive line coach, explains how what he learned in the Marines has translated to the football field as well as how much of Florida State’s offensive success comes from the play of the offensive live.
- Ken Niumatalolo, Navy head coach, talks about life and football at a military academy, and his team’s preparation to contain Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and the high-powered Irish offense this Saturday.
- Delivery of the mascot headgear: Air Force jumpers will parachute down with the mascot headgear Lee Corso will don to illustrate the team he is picking to win the Army-Air Force game.
- “Football at the Academy:” A vignette narrated by Tom Rinaldi will provide viewers with a sense of what it’s like to play football at one of the military academies.
ESPN’s salute to Veterans Day includes several events to be aired throughout the week. On Sunday, Nov. 8, Sunday NFL Countdown will air the first television interview with Marie Tillman, widow of former NFL player Pat Tillman who was killed in Afghanistan. Mrs. Tillman will also appear live on Monday Night Countdown from Denver before the Steelers-Broncos Monday Night Football game Nov. 9.Additional events are planned throughout the week.
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