Selecting the best 'College GameDay' guest picker for each SEC program
ESPN’s “College GameDay” is making its final preparations for 2016, presumably lining up this year’s list of guest pickers the network trots out to make weekly Saturday morning predictions. The SEC figures to play host to a few GameDay segments of its own, meaning there will be school-related celebrities to fire up the crowd.
Here’s a look at a celebrity guest picker that could represent each SEC school.
Thanks to GameDayCole.com for his archived guest pickers list.
Guest Picker: Joe Namath
Lane Kiffin has been a GameDay picker twice, boasting an 8-3 record when it comes to making correct picks. But that was in 2009 and 2012 before he took Alabama’s offensive coordinator gig. It’s not likely we’ll lure Kiffin to the set again so long as he’s still employed in Tuscaloosa. Instead, if we’re going for an encore performance, we’re bringing back one of the best Crimson Tide players of all time in Joe Namath. The former Alabama and New York Jets quarterback appeared on the show in 2014, going 6-3, including choosing his alma mater over Auburn in that year’s Iron Bowl. Someone keep Suzy Kolber away from the Capstone that morning.
Guest Picker: Ne-Yo
Hip hop artist Ne-Yo has been a guest on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.” Now we’re testing the Camden, Ark., native’s ability to pick college football winners on GameDay. The rapper is a diehard Arkansas fan, so expect him to let it ride on the Razorbacks.
Guest Picker: Kevin Greene
We’re bringing in Kevin Greene, the famous WCW wrestler, to the GameDay set to drop a figure-four leglock on Kirk Herbstreit. Greene also managed to cobble together a decent career in football after walking on for the Tigers before embarking on a Hall of Fame career in the NFL.
Guest Picker: Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer and Caeleb Dressel
Olympic swimming is all the rage this summer, the same as it was four years ago in London. Florida is the leader when it comes to the pool with 15 Gators representing the 48 SEC athletes in the pool this summer at the Rio games. GameDay has gone the Olympic swimmer route, inviting Florida alum Ryan Lochte and Amanda Beard (University of Arizona) to be guest pickers on separate occasions. Lochte and his gold medal in this year’s games can come back to GameDay (he went 8-2 on picks in 2012), but this year he’ll be joined on set by fellow Gators and Rio medal earners Conor Dwyer (gold, bronze in Rio) and Caeleb Dressel (gold).
Guest Picker: Samuel L. Jackson
It’s too bad that A) Georgia never plays Florida Southern College in football and B) the Moccasins don’t field a football program. That eliminates us bringing Samuel L. Jackson to opine his classic line “I’m tired of these …” well, you know the rest. The actor is a diehard Bulldogs fan who has been known to live tweet UGA contests. He’s the perfect fit for the GameDay stage, combining entertainment with a passion for all things Georgia football.
Guest Picker: John Calipari
The Kentucky football team can impart a few lessons from its fabled basketball program, and why not go straight to the top and head coach John Calipari? Ever the polarizing figure, Calipari would solicit quite the reaction in Lexington, should GameDay actually choose to play host to its weekly program on the UK campus. It wouldn’t be unprecedented to have a basketball star on to make picks. After all, three of the first four guest pickers ever were Charles Barkley, LeBron James and Bobby Knight (and Kenny Chesney).
Guest Picker: Mike the Tiger
Hey, if the Phillie Phanatic gets a chance to make picks, why can’t one of the most iconic live mascots in college football get a chance? Other cartoon-like mascots that have made GameDay picks include the Oregon Duck, ventriloquist-comedian Jeff Dunham’s Walter and Mark Cuban. And don’t say an animal can’t make a prediction. After all, American Pharoah nailed UCLA over Arizona in September of 2015 — a bold selection considering his trainer Bob Baffert is a diehard Wildcats alum. If getting a live tiger to make predictions does become too cumbersome, we’ll just ask Shaquille O’Neal to do it instead.
Guest Picker: Will Ferrell*
This one comes with a bit of an asterisk affixed to it. Will Ferrell made his GameDay debut during Halloween weekend in 2010. The comedian played it straight up as himself, which was still equal parts hilarious — splitting his 10 picks at five apiece. We’re bringing Ferrell back to the GameDay set, this time in Starkville, decked out to the nines as Gene Frenkle. Heck, perhaps we’ll even have him introduced by The Bruce Dickinson, a.k.a. Christopher Walken. Davis Wade Stadium is heaven (or hell depending on your fandom) when it comes to cowbells. It only makes sense to give the people what they gotta have. And that’s more cowbell.
Guest Picker: Brad Pitt
Legend has it that Brad Pitt packed up his bags and eschewed the University of Missouri for Hollywood with two weeks left before earning his degree in Columbia. We’ve got zero qualms about bringing him back to Faurot Field for GameDay. In fact, why not bring the entire Pitt clan. Brad and Angelina Jolie can each make two picks, and their six kids Maddox, Pax, Zahara, Shiloh along with twins Knox and Vivienne can make the rest. Just as long as one of them actually makes a prediction on the Pitt Panthers game that day.
Guest Picker: Leigh Anne Tuohy
One of the most famous college football moms in the history of the sport, we’re bring in the adoptive mother of former Ole Miss standout offensive lineman Michael Oher, subject of the hit book and movie “The Blind Side.” Let’s put the real Tuohy on stage to test her football acumen, rather than her silver-screen counterpart Sandra Bullock (East Carolina University).
Guest Picker: Leeza Gibbons
We get it. Darius Rucker went to South Carolina and is the biggest Gamecocks fan walking the planet. Yawn. For some entertainment in the morning, we’re turning toward Entertainment Tonight and its former host and South Carolina alum Leeza Gibbons. The talk show personality, author and Celebrity Apprentice winner would be just the seventh female guest picker in the GameDay history and only the second woman picker who was not an athlete. You all know the other one was Katy Perry at Ole Miss last year because the photo of the pop star and Lee Corso is the default photo for every GameDay story since then. Gibbons provides a fun, professional, on-screen persona matched with a Columbia pride.
Guest Picker: Lil Jon
Lil Jon’s parody version of “Turn Down For What” entitled “Third Down For What” is a Rocky Top staple on game days. The Volunteers, of which the rapper is a big fan, has many directions in which to go with its celebrity pickers. What about Peyton Manning and Todd Helton? Tennessee alum Paul Finebaum is overdue to make picks on the Saturday morning program. One of the 10 astronauts that attended UT, among them Scott Kelly, would also be intriguing. Instead it’s Lil Jon and his rabid fandom that gets the GameDay call.
Guest Picker: Lyle Lovett
Lyle Lovett is a lucky man, once marrying actress Julia Roberts despite what can be described as highly questionable looks. Perhaps his picks can be just as fortunate. The four-time Grammy Award winner would join a list of country music stars who moonlighted as GameDay pickers, including Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley (twice) and the aforementioned Kenny Chesney.
Guest Picker: Mack Brown
We’re bringing in legendary Vanderbilt alum Mack Brown. Wait, what? Known for his football coaching legacy at Texas and North Carolina, Brown actually got his start in college football as a halfback for the Commodores in 1969 and 1970 before transferring to Florida State. Brown rushed for 364 yards and 3 touchdowns in a Vandy uniform. His name perennially comes up for coaching vacancies, but we’re going to place his expertise on the GameDay dais to first see if he still has it.