Rece Davis misses energy of fan experience during ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’

The sixth season hosting ESPN's "College GameDay" has been unlike any other for Rece Davis.

The show previewing the day in college football travels around the country to campuses or game sites each weekend. A significant part of its appeal and viewing experience comes from fan interaction with the show's panel. Fans in the hundreds and thousands gather behind the set holding signs and cheering or booing comments from Davis or other regular analysts Kirk Herbstreit, David Pollack, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard.

COVID-19 health concerns has led the set to be closed to an audience. Corso, who has been with the show since 1987, has been on remotely from his home.

ESPN College GameEay host Rece Davis speaks during a live broadcast from Notre Dame Stadium before the game between Notre Dame and Clemson. (Photo: Matt Cashore, USA TODAY Sports)

Davis reflected the changes this season Wednesday during a media availability previewing the show's appearance Saturday at Augusta National during the Masters. This will be GameDay's first time at the golf course, which typically hosts its tournament in April.

"It's been different for sure," Davis said. "The number one thing that we've all noticed is when you have a normal situation with the crowd you get instantaneous feedback — good and bad — whatever you say.  

"There's a surge of adrenaline and a rush that goes along with it. There's great energy that comes from having a show in a setting like that when you are surrounded by in some cases 25,000 people. … You miss that."

While the feel and sound of the popular show isn't able to be replicated, Davis says the discussion of games and issues in college football remains the same.

"The one thing that I have noticed is that once we get engaged in a conversation I don't notice the difference until I go back and review the show and don't hear the reaction," Davis said. "You also don't have the spontaneity of being able to, you say something and they boo and you react to it, have a little fun with it and move on."

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