Get in line now for the USC-Oregon ESPN “College GameDay” experience

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Credit: ESPN
Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit are on the ESPN “College GameDay” set during a visit outside the Coliseum before the USC-Ohio State game in Sept., 2008.

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Between the time she rolls out of her downtown L.A. hotel bed at about 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, and when the ESPN “College GameDay” stage outside the Coliseum peristyle entrance is finally disassembled at about 2 a.m. Sunday, it won’t sink in with ESPN operations producer Joalin Goff that she’d been on a 24-hour adrenalin rush and may have even missed watching most of the nationally-televised USC-Oregon college football game on Saturday night.

“Some crew members can go back to the hotel and take a nap, depending on game traffic,” the Southern California native said. “But as long as you keep moving, keep grinding, the end comes and then you realize you haven’t slept in a day and that’s when you start to really shut down.”

Goff’s responsibility to get the “GameDay” outdoor facility up and functional starts Thursday morning, having to orchestrate a crew of about 85 to have everything in place by Thursday night for this morning’s live segments on “SportsCenter.”

Because “GameDay” starts an hour earlier this year – the 6-to-7 a.m. PDT segment runs on ESPNU, while the 7-to-9 a.m. block is on ESPN – the lead-in set-up time “has impacted us tremendously . . . everything is backed up exponentially,” said Goff, who flew in a half-day earlier to prepare for Friday’s preproduction.

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Thousands of amped USC and Oregon fans will be sandwiched into the area between the back of the stage and the Coliseum entrance on Saturday morning, some of them lined up late Friday night to gain mosh pit access and heckle studio desk crew members Erin Andrews, Desmond Howard, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso — all of whom have a 3 a.m. cast call on Saturday. Herbstreit and Andrews later join Brent Musburger for the 5 p.m. game telecast on ABC

A new “GameDay” element includes assembling a “fan cam” up on a cable that stretches 500 feet and swivels around to capture the atmosphere. Fans also have access to a face- and body-painting booth, a DJ music booth and a mobile video game truck.

“Even though was have a great infrastructure in getting all this done, what I enjoy most about this is flying by the seat of our pants,” said Goff, who didn’t know until last Sunday morning that the crew would be coming to L.A. this weekend after having spent last Saturday in Missouri.

Nor did any of them really take into consideration there could be rain in the forecast for this Saturday morning.

“We’re rain-or-shine people,” she said. “As long as there’s no lightning, or we got rain going sideways, then we wont’ need a Plan B.”

So Plan B for this Saturday? Last weekend, when thunder came up in Missouri, they were going to use the Home Depot Bus as a indoor set. But then they realized that was one big metal structure waiting to get hit by a lightning bolt.

“We don’t have any lightning in the forcast, so we’ll stay with the set and keep the talent as comfortable as long as we can,” she said.

Goff and the rest of the crew, meanwhile, will have to fend for themselves. Until they “go vapor” sometime early Sunday morning, then wait to find out where they’ll be headed next week.

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