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‘College GameDay’ guest pickers, categorized by how much sense they make

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From Katy Perry to Charles Barkley and everywhere in between.

NCAA Football: Alabama at Auburn
Nov 25, 2017; Auburn, AL, USA; Charles Barkley and Lee Corso on College GameDay before the game between the Auburn Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, ESPN’s College GameDay invited guest pickers to come onto the show and pick winners and losers. Over time, you start to see certain genres of guest, ranging from really great fits for the school at hand to the delightfully random to the ... just random. For organization’s sake, let’s put a bunch of these pickers into groups.

Obvious fits

Former players and other alumni make this list, for the most part.

Charles Barkley

The Auburn and NBA legend was one of the first unofficial guest pickers in 2004, when he picked Auburn to beat Tennessee.

“When Charles Barkley first did it – it was probably ten years ago – he was the first one on the show,” Fitting said in 2014 via Sports and Entertainment Nashville. “He was a big Auburn fan. He picked the games and was great at it. So it was probably about five years ago when we decided on doing [celebrity predictions] every week. We had Lance Armstrong, Bill Murray, Bo Jackson, Olympian Lolo Jones, Darius Rucker and Bubba Watson. Kenny Chesney was one of our originals.”

Props to the shirt he wore that last time he was on:

“A few years ago, it was the Kick Six. Today, it’s gonna be the Kick Ass,” he said before the Tigers went ahead and beat Alabama.

Bo Jackson

The former Auburn running back came on for the 2011 Iron Bowl.

Phillip Fulmer and Steve Spurrier

The former Tennessee and Florida head coaches were co-guest pickers in 2016 for the Florida-Tennessee game in Knoxville. The HBC out-picked Fulmer.

Jack Nicklaus

The golf legend was a guest for 2017’s Penn State-Ohio State game — Nicklaus is also a Buckeye legend, having golfed there from 1957-1961.

Rickie Fowler

Speaking of pro golfers, the Oklahoma State alumnus was the guest for Bedlam in 2016.

Phil Knight

The Oregon alumnus and Nike founder was the picker for 2009’s USC-Oregon game.

Celebrities that might seem random, but who have school ties

Will Ferrell

Everyone loves Ferrell, right? He went on the show for 2010’s Oregon-USC game, and unforgettably fought the Oregon mascot and Lee Corso with a giant-ass Corso head:

Ferrell graduated from USC in 1990.

Joel McHale

The actor and comedian was the guest for 2016’s game between USC and Washington. Although you may not know it, McHale walked on at Washington in 1992. He never played in an actual game, and ended up just a year and a half on the Huskies’ scout team, He told ESPN in 2012.

Tim Matheson

In 2018, the Animal House co-star was the guest picker ahead of Stanford-Oregon. The movie was filmed on Oregon’s campus in Eugene, so it was a pretty unique connection.

Bob Baffert

Yes, the famous horse trainer you see on TV every May — this guy.

143rd Kentucky Derby - Previews Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Baffert was the guest for Arizona’s 2015 home game against UCLA. He’s a Zona alum, having graduated from the school’s Race Track Industry Program.

Luther Campbell

Before the 2017 ACC Championship game, the Miami rapper — famous for his association with the glory days of “The U” in the 1980s and 90s — was kind enough to give the guys some turnover chains:

Make sense strictly in a geographic context

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

He was the guest picker before the 2016 Virginia Tech-Tennessee game that happened at a racetrack. So Dale Jr., as a native of NASCAR Country, was an obvious choice.

Aaron Rodgers

The Packers QB was on hand for 2016’s LSU-Wisconsin game at Lambeau Field.

LeBron James

James was still in his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers when he was the guest for the 2008 game between Penn State and Ohio State. James is a Buckeyes fan, too.

Alex Rodriguez

He’s from Miami and picked games ahead of 2017’s Notre Dame-Miami game.

Alice Cooper

The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was on hand for Ohio State-Michigan State in 2014. Cooper is a Detroit native. He arrived to the desk in style, too!

Lil Wayne

The New Orleans native was on for the 2016 Alabama-LSU game.

Lance Armstrong

The Texas native made picks for a 2009 Texas Tech-Texas game.

Chipper Jones

The longtime Braves third baseman handled a 2009 kickoff game between Alabama and Virginia Tech. The game was in Atlanta.

Willie and Jace Robertson

The Duck Dynasty folks. Ahead of Ole Miss-LSU in 2014, the Louisiana natives picked games.


Keegan Michael Key

The Penn State alum has been on the show three times, the first in 2016. He’s also known for his famously too spot-on impression of Nittany Lions head coach James Franklin.

Frank Caliendo

Although the Big Ten Country native didn’t have obvious ties to Washington-Utah, he’s been doing impressions of guys like John Madden, Todd McShay, and Jon Gruden for years for ESPN for awhile now. His GameDay appearance had a ton of impressions:

Jeff Dunham

The comedian picked games before 2015’s Oklahoma-Baylor. Dunham is a Baylor alumnus. He also did some schooling at Texas Tech.

Little connection to an involved school, but great anyway

Katy Perry

She’ll go down as one of the show’s greatest guest pickers for her efforts surrounding 2014’s Alabama-Ole Miss game. First, she literally hit on OU quarterback Trevor Knight on-air:

And of course this:

“When Katy arrived playing music and we showed her arriving and the production truck was literally bouncing,” GameDay producer Lee Fitting said in 2016 via “There were teenage girls screaming and crying and there were old men screaming and crying and there were old ladies screaming. It was a crazy, crazy scene.”

And after Ole Miss upset Alabama in Oxford, this gloriousness happened:

(Her manager is an Ole Miss fan, and that was the reason offered for her appearance, but I don’t think anyone really needed a reason.)

Ric Flair

Just look at this damn entrance by the Minnesota alum and Michigan fan for a game between two different Big Ten teams:

Rick Ross

At Bama-LSU, he picked Memphis to win because of his many Wing Stop locations in Memphis and shared some pears with Lee Corso, a tribute to Ross’ own body type.

Kind of random!

Jim Cantore

Yeah, that dude who’s always standing in the middle of hurricanes on The Weather Channel. He made guest picks remotely from Greenville, South Carolina ahead of Clemson-Notre Dame in 2015, a game played in heavy rain, at least.

He picked Clemson for this very smart reason:

“This girl Hayley I met at the bar last night said Clemson was gonna win.”

Ken Griffey Jr. and Brett Favre (though Favre didn’t make it)

The two were guest pickers ahead of Florida State-Notre Dame in 2014. The two don’t have any real connections to either school, but it paid homage to the 1993 FSU-ND game, when both stars were in their primes.

Roman Reigns

The WWE Universal Champion picked games ahead of TCU-Ohio State in 2018. Joe Anoa’i (that’s Reigns’ real name) played at Georgia Tech, so uh, not sure why he was at this game, but oh well!

The Chainsmokers

The EDM-pop duo was easily one of the worst guests in GameDay history ahead of Wisconsin vs. Michigan in 2018.

Craig T. Nelson

If you don’t know who this is, that’s normal. It’s this guy:

The voice of Mr. Incredible picked games ahead of the Michigan-Wisconsin game in 2017. He doesn’t have any apparent connection to either school, even though he wore a Wisconsin sweatshirt. He’s more of a Minnesota State guy.

Bro country singers who probably have some loose affiliation to a school, but I’m just gonna run through these dudes

  • Toby Keith
  • Brad Paisley
  • Eric Church
  • Kenny Chesney (technically, he has an affiliation with EVERY school)
  • Tim McGraw
  • Luke Bryan
  • Sam Hunt (yes, I know he’s a former UAB quarterback, but I don’t care.)
  • Eric Church

Can we please stop trying to make country music and college football a thing, for the love of God.

Generally, ESPN does a really good job finding guest pickers for the show.

Other than the country boys.