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NU FOOTBALL: Husker fans set 'GameDay' attendance record
BY JOSHUA BUECHLER Lincoln Journal Star
Not so fast, Kansas State.

The Nebraska-Notre Dame matchup in Memorial Stadium may have been eight hours away, but Husker fans turned out in hordes - 15,808 strong - for ESPN's "College GameDay" show.

The turnout edged K-State's record of 15,500, set last year before the Wildcats tangled with the Huskers on Nov. 11.

"This is one of the best crowds we've had," said Kirk Herbstreit, who co-anchors the show with Lee Corso and Chris Fowler.

But Herbstreit fell short of calling it the best ever - something Corso and ESPN sideline reporter Shelley Smith didn't have to think twice about.

"I've said I think the atmosphere here is the greatest college atmosphere in the country," Corso said. "There's no place like it."

Smith, a Nebraska alum, added: "This was the best ever, absolutely. Kirk will say that because he's trying to make everybody happy. But it set the record and was the loudest."

Smith, who usually doesn't travel with the "GameDay" crew, started lobbying for this game a long time ago.

"It's so neat because I used to sit up in those stands right there," said Smith, pointing to the student section.

The show, like last year's Nebraska-Notre Dame game, lived up to the hype.

Corso arrived on the set about 30 minutes before the show, staged in the Northeast side of the stadium, to his usual fare of boos and a smattering of applause. The former Indiana coach who took his fair share of lickings in Lincoln, then taunted the crowd with a Fighting Irish hat.

But in the end, it was Corso's pick of Nebraska to win the game that ignited the crowd to a deafening roar. Each week, the 66-year-old analyst dons the hat of his pick and on Saturday, his headgear was delivered by the Army Golden Knights parachuting team just before the end of the show.

At that point, and several others during the hour-and-a-half show which began at 9:30 a.m., the crew had a tough time communicating.

"I kind of felt like (Irish quarterback) Matt LoVecchio trying to call cadence because I couldn't hear anything," said Herbstreit, a former Ohio State quarterback.

But Herbstreit said the show goes smoother on the road because it heightens the anchors' concentration. The crew's preparation doesn't go unnoticed.

"I really admire their preparation," Smith said. "They were here at 6:30 in the morning to rehearse after rehearsing yesterday."

And wherever the nationally-recognized faces go, there are sure to be those who follow.

"Being with these guys is like being with rock stars," Smith said. "Last night they went to Misty's for dinner, and Kirk said as he would take a forkful of prime rib, people would come up to him. He couldn't eat."

Fowler said the show, which made its last stop in Lincoln in 1998 for a Sept. 26 showdown withWashington, has come a long way from humble beginnings.

"We started this in the College Football Hall of Fame at Notre Dame with 1,000 curious people wondering what was going on," he said.

But none of the three have let the success go to their heads. Corso signed autographs and chatted with fans at the Embassy Suites for over an hour after the show.

Fowler is puzzled by the support the show receives but will take it while he can.

"I don't know if I would get out of bed if I were in college to come watch three clowns on TV do a football show," Fowler said. "But I'm glad they do."

Reach Joshua Buechler at 473-7431 or jbuechler@journalstar.com.

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