ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot Kicks Off 2023 Season in Charlotte for the ‘Battle of the Carolinas’

College Sports (Miscellaneous)

ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot Kicks Off 2023 Season in Charlotte for the ‘Battle of the Carolinas’

  • College football’s premier pregame show travels to Week 1’s Duke’s Mayo Classic – South Carolina vs. North Carolina, live from Romare Bearden Park in uptown Charlotte
  • Guests to include head coaches Mack Brown and Shane Beamer, guest picker Darius Rucker and more

ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot returns for the 2023-24 college football season with a trip to Charlotte, N.C., before the South Carolina Gamecocks face the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Duke’s Mayo Classic on Saturday, Sept. 2. The three-hour show (9 a.m. ET) will be live from Romare Bearden Park in uptown Charlotte to kick off GameDay’s 37th season and 30th year of road shows, which have become synonymous with college football Saturdays over the past three decades.

The Week 1 trip marks College GameDay’s 440th road show all-time – and the first-ever visit to a South Carolina-North Carolina game. The Gamecock’s last GameDay appearance was 2014, while the Tar Heels appeared in 2010. This is the third trip to uptown Charlotte for College GameDay in recent years.

Host Rece Davis returns to the helm joined at the desk by GameDay analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Pat McAfee with college football insider Pete Thamel, reporters Jen Lada and Jess Sims, and newcomer ‘Stanford Steve’ Coughlin.

College GameDay is coming off its most-viewed college football regular season, averaging 2.1 million viewers in 2022. In all, college football’s most-watched pregame show delivered a 10% increase over the prior year and nine episodes of at least two million viewers.

Show Highlights & Guests

  • Comin’ to Your City – announced earlier this week, GameDay is celebrating its 30th anniversary of being on the road by launching a refresh of its iconic opening anthem. After 16 years, Big & Rich have passed the mic to The Cadillac Three, Darius Rucker and Lainey Wilson. The new open debuts at the start of Saturday’s Week 1 show (9 a.m.).
  • Guest Picker – in addition to being part of the refreshed anthem, Darius Rucker will join the set as the Week 1 guest picker. A South Carolina alum and ardent Gamecocks fan, Rucker is a longtime supporter of GameDay. He previous appeared as a guest picker in 2012.
  • Head coaches Mack Brown (UNC) and Shane Beamer (South Carolina) will both join the GameDay desk ahead of their Duke’s Mayo Classic showdown.
  • Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton will speak with the GameDay crew live from the field in Nashville before the Vols play Virginia in the ‘Wired’ segment.

Additional guests will be announced ahead of Saturday’s show on ESPN PR’s Twitter and College GameDay’s Twitter.


  • Deion and Troy – New Colorado head coach Deion Sanders sits with his former Dallas Cowboys teammate and Monday Night Football analyst Troy Aikman on the eve of Coach Prime’s debut with the Buffaloes.
  • UVA Moving Forward – Last November, a tragic on-campus shooting took the lives of three University of Virginia football players. Andrea Adelson has the story of running back Mike Hollins, who survived a gunshot wound that night and returns to play for the Cavaliers on Saturday.
  • Walk-Ons – The moments are always memorable, and often viral, when a walk-on receives the news that he is now on scholarship. This year, one moment stood out when Eastern Michigan’s right tackle Brian Dooley took that to another level when he surprised left tackle Zack Conti with a selfless gift. Jen Lada
  • Maye’s in Blue – Starting with their father Mark, the Maye’s are the first family of Chapel Hill. Drake, the youngest of four brothers has become a Heisman-candidate quarterback, in part because of the competitiveness instilled in him by his older brothers. In conjunction with ACC Network, Marty Smith spends time with the siblings to get a glimpse of how they have helped make Drake so good on the field.
  • The Real Carolina – When North and South Carolina take the field in Charlotte this week it will be the battle for Carolina, literally. Both schools have been known to drop the directionals to call themselves simply, “Carolina.” Ryan McGee examines the history behind the quest to be the one true Carolina.
  • Prime’s Time – As Deion Sanders makes his head coaching debut in Colorado – one of the most intriguing storylines of the season, Andscape’s Justin Tinsley examines how Coach Prime has never backed down from a challenge in his career – and he won’t allow his team to do so either.

Corso’s Count

  • Saturday’s GameDay will mark Lee Corso’s 398th headgear pick since he started the tradition in 1996.
  • Corso has never picked the Tar Heels headgear and has only picked the Gamecocks three times, most recently in 2014.

ESPN’s Expanded Digital Coverage
ESPN’s social and digital pre-pregame show, Countdown to GameDay Presented by Dr Pepper, returns for the 2023 season ahead of Week 1’s GameDay in Charlotte with hosts Christine WilliamsonHarry Douglas and Harry Lyles Jr.

Desmond Howard will join the trio in the debut show to talk about the top storylines and under-the-radar playoff teams. Douglas and Lyles Jr. will pick North Carolina and South Carolina fans to represent them in the first of a season long One-Minute Drill competition. One randomly selected fan will receive a replica of the Cheez-It Cheesiest Chain during the show.

The show is available across ESPN on YouTube, X/Twitter, Facebook and the ESPN App at 8:30 a.m. ET weekly.

For onsite information, please visit College GameDay’s Hub HERE.


Julie McKay

I joined ESPN in 2022 as a member of the communications department working on college sports. My passion for college sports came at an early age in a divided household (Big Ten Conference-divided, that is) and followed that to the University of Wisconsin-Madison (sorry, Dad). Four years in the Athletic Communications Department, along with internships with the Big Ten Conference, Big Ten Network and NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, cemented my career path. After spending some time in sports media PR in San Francisco, I’ve spent five-plus years focused in golf, with stints at the American Junior Golf Association, Augusta National and Buffalo Agency, working with the USGA, Youth on Course and Destination Kohler, among others. Despite being a proud Wisconsin native, I’ll forever betray my home state as a lifelong Chicago sports fan. My dog Rizzo knows there’s always next year and wishes his namesake would return home to the North Side.
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