SEATTLE - Is the University of Washington ready for its close-up?
Chris Fowler thinks so.
"We're excited. It has been number one of the places on our list for quite some time," the ESPN College Gameday host said during a 20minute phone conversation from his home on the East Coast. The long time leader of the Saturday morning show will bring it to Seattle for the first time this weekend.
The three-hour live broadcast originates from a different college campus every weekend, and the University of Washington was finally selected. The show is known for its unscripted banter, fans, and the signs that are held behind the anchors.
"Before the Stanford game, we decided if they win, or it's a close loss, we'll come up here," said Fowler, who says he's vacationed and/or visited Seattle multiple times.
Senior Coordinating Producer Lee Fitting added, "Several factors weighed into this decision. Arguably, it's the most compelling game on paper. It's a game that features two ranked teams - a national title contender on the road versus a rival, plus, it's a venue that the show has never been to. Add all of this up and it's makes for a great atmosphere."
The crew of roughly 80 different technicians, producers and camera operators begin setting up the show in Red Square on Thursday.
Fowler says despite rumors the show would broadcast from a barge on Lake Washington, it chose the location based on what it will look like when the show takes the air at 6 am.
"The library will look good, you have to think how things are going to look when we go on the air," says Fowler, host since the show's first road show in 1993, and has broadcast multiple shows from the West Coast. This will be the first western visit of the season.
Fowler says "I hope people show up and support the Huskies. The best way to do that is to wave a lot of Purple. They aren't going to like this, but the measuring stick is Oregon. Fans there have the most enthusiasm, most hardcore of any Pac-12 school we've been to."
UW plays Oregon at Husky Stadium that day at 1 pm.
"They need to show that football matters to them," Fowler said of Husky fans.
The host also added that WSU fans are welcome. "That's a big issue on Twitter," he acknowledged. Washington State fans have a tradition of waving a Cougar flag behind the hosts during the broadcast.
"Flag carriers will be protected," he said sternly. "It's a decade old tradition. Drown 'em out with Purple flags if you need too. But there is security, excellent, excellent security, and (the WSU flag) will not be an issue."
The set should be fully in place by Thursday night, and Fowler says he will start recording on location reports the following day.