UPDATED: 3 p.m. Friday:
Dan Patrick will be a bit preoccupied Saturday morning.
Could he sneak past ESPN security, get a couple of USC fans to hoist him out of the mosh pit, and position himself just beyond Erin Andrews’ left shoulder to sneak onto the “College GameDay” coverage?
Or does he lay low and smile knowingly as he counts how many signs related to his syndicated radio and TV show find their way on camera during the live telecast?
With a fortuitous scheduling quirk, Patrick will be on hand to personally experience the movement known on his show as “#OccupyGameDay,” planning to be somewhere during the early-morning telecast Saturday outside the Coliseum prior to the USC-Stanford game.
The former ESPN employee has no stealth agenda of revenge. He’s far more entertained by all the fans and followers who’ve put their creative energy into honoring him and the show with their background signage.
“We didn’t initiate any of this, but we will tolerate and we will celebrate it,” said Patrick, who broke away from ESPN in 2007 after 18 years to start his own syndicated radio show, heard locally on KLAC-AM (570) from 6-to-9 a.m., simulcast on Fox Sports West and DirecTV.
Motivation to keep “Occupy” moving within the “GameDay” crowd from campus to campus each week seems to be derived from the fact that ESPN sticks to a policy of refusing to allow employees to appear as guests on Patrick’s show.
Here, Patrick’s fans can stick it back.
“It’s more than four years (since leaving ESPN), and I must be doing something right,” said Patrick. “But when the kings of promotion won’t allow their people come on my show? It must be deeper rooted on their side than mine.
“They can be so sensative, as if they control the universe. They’re not beyond reproach. I hope someday to move past it, but I don’t think it will happen with current management.”
ESPN spokesperson Keri Potts said: “We effort to keep the GameDay signs in our set location college football- and college sports-themed. We try to prevent any call to action or promotional signs as the show is not an avenue for outside advertisers or the general public to promote their causes or interests.”
She also said that ESPN’s policy about radio interviews is not to book ESPN talent with any direct competitors to stations that carry ESPN Radio programming, so it is not specific to Patrick’s show.
Nonetheless, Patrick’s fans at “GameDay” go for deeply embedded show references, paying homage to him and his “Dan-ettes” support staff – Paul Pabst, Patrick “Seton” O’Connor, Todd Fritz and Andrew “McLovin” Perloff.
The first was a year ago outside Wrigley Field in Chicago before an Illinois-Northwestern game, with a “GameDay” sign referring to “passion bucket,” a phrase that came from UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and latched onto by Patrick and his audience.
In Oregon recently, a fan was able to get “I (Heart) DP” sign up long enough to get on air. Nine photos with Patrick-related messages were snapped by listeners (or members of “DanNation”) and posted after the “GameDay” show’s last appearance in East Lansing, Mich.
Someone named DJ emailed Patrick’s show this week looking for the spelling of “Jenny Batsche.” That’s the name of Patrick’s former high school girl friend.
Look for that sign Saturday.
“Privately, I think some of the ‘GameDay’ folks are fine with it, because of the fact it adds to the bigger audience and brings more eyeballs, but then you see how the ‘mothership’ (ESPN) has people wrestle them away as if they’re contraband,” said Patrick, in L.A. with his family Friday and Saturday for his son’s birthday before jetting back to New York to do NBC’s “Football Night In America” studio show Sunday night.
As long as his campus-crazy audience respects the “GameDay” show, does nothing mean-spirited and has fun with it, Patrick doesn’t expect any trouble.
“This is where, as the parents of two college-age kids, I’m glad their educations are well spent,” he said.