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Bryce Harper will be guest picker when ‘College GameDay’ visits Columbus

Harper’s wife Kayla is a former Ohio State soccer play, so we’ll allow it.

Matt Tamanini Matt Tamanini is the co-managing editor of Land-Grant Holy Land having joined the site in 2016.

UPDATE: On Friday night, on social media, MLB stud Bryce Harper announced that he was en route to Columbus to be the guest picker on Saturday’s edition of “GameDay.” While the Harper and Ohio State connection might not be immediately evident. His wife Kayla is a former Ohio State soccer player, and since he played only one year of junior college baseball, he has adopted the Buckeyes as his college team of choice. So, we’ll allow it.

But, ESPN, keep this list handy for next year.

With last weekend’s announcement that ESPN’s “College GameDay” would be coming to Columbus for the first time this season in order to preview The Game, there are a few remaining, burning questions about the pregame show still left to answer. 1) What celeb will be picking winners with the “GameDay” crew? And, 2) what headgear will Lee Corso don in the regular season’s final selection? The latter we will have to wait until about 11:55 a.m. ET on Saturday to find out, but the other one, we have some thoughts and suggestions.

To be honest, ESPN has struggled with finding guest pickers that were both interesting and had a connection to the hosting school this season. The picks have ranged from “Huh?” to “Who?” to “Why?”

While there have been a few exceptions, a lot of the pickers have just been a bit odd, and a lot disappointing. See what I mean?

2018 ESPN “College GameDay” Guest Pickers

Date Location Game Guest Picker Connection
Date Location Game Guest Picker Connection
Sept. 1 South Bend, Ind. Michigan vs. Notre Dame Luke Bryan ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sept. 8 College Station, Tex. Clemson vs. Texas A&M Owen Gray Texas Make-A-Wish
Sept. 15 Fort Worth, Tex. Ohio State vs. TCU Roman Reigns WWE pay-per-view in Texas
Sept. 22 Eugene, Ore. Stanford vs. Oregon Tim Matheson "Animal House" filmed at Oregon
Sept. 29 University Park, Pa. Ohio State vs. Penn State Keegan Michael Key PSU alum
Oct. 6 Dallas, Tex. Texas vs. Oklahoma Toby Keith Oklahoma native
Oct. 13 Ann Arbor, Mich. Wisconsin vs. Michigan The Chainsmokers ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Oct. 20 Pullman, Wash. Oregon vs. Washington St. Drew Bledsoe WSU alum
Oct. 27 Jacksonville, Fla. Florida vs. Georgia Evander Holyfield Son plays for UGA
Nov. 3 Baton Rouge, La. Alabama vs. LSU Alex Bregman LSU alum
Nov. 10 Chestnut Hill, Mass. Clemson vs. Boston College Chris O'Donnell BC alum
Nov. 17 Orlando, Fla. Cincinnati vs. UCF Maury Povich ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Nov. 24 Columbus, Ohio Michigan vs. Ohio State TBA TBD

But with the buildup for Saturday’s top-ten matchup between the No. 4 Michigan Wolverines and the No. 10 Ohio State Buckeyes, certainly ESPN can find some compelling choices to join Rece, Herbie, Coach Corso, and the Heisman-Winner-Who-Will-Not-Be-Named on set.

So, on Wednesday, we put out the call for picker suggestions on Twitter. Some of the responses we got are below, we threw in some of our own, and you can see all the responses by clicking on the tweet.


We would love for a former Buckeye gridiron star to be the guest picker, but predicting a football player isn’t all that fun, so we are going to start with the more exotic non-athletes. Besides, there have only been four athlete pickers in the first 12 “GameDays” of the season, so the track record suggests a decent shot of a non-jock.

Good Bets

J.K. Simmons: grew up in Worthington while his father taught music at Ohio State, and the Oscar winner is a diehard Buckeye fan. He even narrated the Big Ten Network’s “Scarlet and Gray Days: Inside Ohio State Training Camp” in the fall following OSU’s national championship win.

Last year he sat down with noted Michigan Man Rich Eisen the week before The Game.

John Legend: grew up in Springfield, and is a proud Ohio State fan. He performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York on Thursday morning, so he is on the east coast. For good measure, he should bring Chrissy along too. She always makes for good (i.e. crazy in the best way) television.

21 Pilots: the original configuration of the band formed while attending Ohio State. (fun fact, their name is derived from a quote and plot point from Arthur Miller’s play “All My Sons.”)

O.A.R.: band attended Ohio State and have been used on ESPN commercials and promos for years. (another fun fact, I sat behind O.A.R.’s bass player — I think — in PoliSci 101 at OSU.)

Dark Horses

Rascal Flatts: two of the three members grew up in Central Ohio, and are major Buckeye fans. Jay DeMarcus regularly rocks a guitar with buckeye leafs in concerts. We’ve also had a couple country music pickers already this season, so it could continue the trend.

Patricia Heaton: the TV mom is a Cleveland native and OSU alum. And it might be nice to have the first female picker since Laila Ali in Sept. 2016.

Jerry Springer: last week Maury Povich was brought in to pick at the Cincinnati and UCF game, despite not having any apparent connection to either school. If they want to stick with salacious TV hosts, at least Jerry Springer is the former mayor of Cincinnati.

Jack Hanna: when has Jack Hanna ever turned down a TV appearance?


Guy Fieri: despite claiming Farndale, Cali. as his home town, the “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” host was born in Columbus.

Bow Wow: the rapper and “Like Mike” star is from Reynoldsburg, and apparently rapper Trippie Redd (who was born in Canton and grew up in Columbus) beefed with Bow Wow over whether or not the “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” could really claim Ohio or not. So, showing up to rep Buckeye Nation could restore some of Bow Wow’s Ohio cred.

Also, in case you were wondering, Trippie appears to have no relation to OSU great Michael Redd.

Dave Chappelle: the “A Star is Born” actor and legendary comedian bought a farm just outside of Yellow Springs in 2010, and has lived there ever since.

Keanu Reeves: the “Matrix” and “John Wick” star has played not one, but two former Ohio State quarterbacks on the big screen. First in 1991’s “Point Break” as Johnny Utah and in “The Replacements” in 2000 as Shane Falco. He’d get bonus points if he came out on set in a scarlet and gray “Utah” jersey.

Drew Carey: Cleveland rocks.

Arnold Schwarzenegger: the Arnold Sports Festival has been held in Columbus every year since 1989.

R.L. Stine: the “Goosebumps” creator is a Bexley native and Ohio State graduate. If not him, maybe Jack Black will show up to take his place.


“GameDay” has only gone with a former football player as guest picker twice this season, Drew Bledsoe at Washington State and Roman Reigns (Leati Joseph Anoaʻi) for the Buckeyes’ game against TCU. However, Reigns played at Georgia Tech, and was only there because the WWE had a pay-per-view in Texas that weekend, so that doesn’t really count.

So, the question is, with so many beloved and well-known athletes connected to Columbus and Ohio State, does that mean that the odds are in favor of an athlete being this week’s guest picker? We’ll just have to wait to find out, but if it is, here are some great options.

Good Bets

Ryan Shazier: #shalieve

J.T. Barrett: along with Eli Apple, Von Bell, Ted Ginn Jr. (IR), Marshon Lattimore, and Michael Thomas, the NFL Saints are all playing on Thanksgiving night, so they’d have time to make it to Columbus. Heck, just bring them all home! (Barrett is currently on New Orleans’ practice squad, but he’s so dedicated, he’ll probably be around the stadium anyway!)

Ezekiel Elliott: like the Saints, the Dallas Cowboys play on Thanksgiving, meaning that Zeke would be free to make the trip north for the weekend.

Jim Tressel: it’s about time that the Vest is allowed to officially reclaim his spot on Ohio State’s Mount Rushmore.

Chris Spielman: the Buckeye legend has an intimate knowledge of this rivalry, playing for the Buckeyes, and from spending the bulk of his professional career as a member of the Detroit Lions.

Dick LeBeau: the NFL Hall of Famer is best known as one of the great defensive coaches in pro football history, but before that, he was a halfback and corner on Woody Hayes’ second national championship team at Ohio State in 1957.

Any other former Buckeye: let’s be honest, there are so many former Ohio State football players out there that any of them could show up: Eddie George, Archie Griffin, Orlando Pace, Cris Carter, Maurice Clarett, the list goes on and on.

Possibilities (Non-Football Edition)

Chris Holtmann: the Buckeye basketball coach has gotten his team out to a 5-0 start in his second season, so he is definitely a darling on campus.

We could also go for Scoonie Penn and/or the aforementioned Michael Redd.

Nick Swisher: the former MLB all-star and World Series champion was born in Columbus and played collegiate baseball at Ohio State. In 2011, OSU christened the Buckeye baseball field, Nick Swisher Field at Bill Davis Stadium (not that Bill Davis, the good one).

Graham Rahal: the IndyCar champion and son of Ohio racing legend Bobby Rahal is a born and bred Buckeye. Check out one of his racing helmets if you don’t believe me.

Alexa Bliss: “GameDay” has already gone to the WWE well once this season, so maybe they will go back with the former Raw and SmackDown Women’s Champion and Hilliard Davidson High School alum.

James Buster Douglas: the Buckeyes are underdogs to TTUN for the first time since 2011, and no one knows how to score a knockout as an underdog better than the former champ!

Simone Biles: the four-time Olympic gold medalist and 14-time (!!!) world champion might not know a ton about football, but being a Columbus native, she at least knows who to root for.

So, we didn’t include all of our suggestions, but let us know who you want to be the picker. And, if we missed anybody, hit us up in the comments.


Who do you want to be the guest picker?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    J.K. Simmons
    (41 votes)
  • 8%
    John Legend
    (32 votes)
  • 0%
    Rascal Flatts
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Patricia Heaton
    (15 votes)
  • 1%
    Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!
    (7 votes)
  • 1%
    Guy Fieri
    (7 votes)
  • 7%
    Keanu Reeves
    (30 votes)
  • 26%
    Ryan Shazier
    (101 votes)
  • 4%
    J.T. Barrett
    (17 votes)
  • 18%
    Jim Tressel
    (70 votes)
  • 2%
    Chris Spielman
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Nick Swisher
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    Graham Rahal
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    Alexa Bliss
    (9 votes)
  • 2%
    Buster Douglas
    (9 votes)
  • 4%
    Simone Biles
    (17 votes)
378 votes total Vote Now
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