Kolpack: Jensen, Hansen on other end of Corso's famous catchphrase as GameDay guest pickers
FARGO — The forgotten story with former North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen was how he got to Fargo in the first place. Initially, the Bison didn’t want him.
No Division I school did and Jensen was headed to Division II Minnesota-Duluth, at least until NDSU’s top recruiting choices at quarterback didn’t pan out. So the Bison went back to Jensen.
It seemed to work out for all involved.
Things just seemingly always do for Jensen. Take the case of ESPN’s “College GameDay” in Fargo in 2014. As Jensen understood it, the show initially wanted either Billy Bob Thorton, Josh Duhamel or Miss North Dakota and Miss USA runnerup Audra Mari to be the guest picker at the end of the show.
Thorton was filming the TV series “Fargo” and Duhamel and Mari were unavailable.
“So they had to revert to old number 16,” said Jensen, referring to his Bison jersey. “I was ecstatic. I’ve watched the show since I was a little kid. I would get up Saturday morning, turn on ‘College GameDay’ and watch Corso and the guys.”
On Saturday, NDSU will be part of the show for the third time when the Bison play at South Dakota State. Phil Hansen was an easy choice to be the guest picker in 2013, an all-time great player with the Buffalo Bills and the Bison. Both Hansen and Jensen kept their appearances a secret until the morning of the show.
The orchestrators have softened the suspense when it comes to revealing the guest picker, the point in the program where a celebrity of some sort helps the crew pick winners of selected games. Nowadays, the identity is usually revealed in the opening segment.
It’s the show within the show, part of the program’s conclusion that started in 1996 when “Game Day” regular Lee Corso put on the mascot head of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Who will get the honors this weekend?
It remains the big unknown on Saturday when “GameDay” does its thing from the “College Green” space on the SDSU campus.
Guesses have been thrown around all week, from pro wrestler Brock Lesnar to television personality Mary Hart – both who grew up in South Dakota. Anybody looking for clues will start with the famous alumni of the host school. Problem with SDSU is nobody really fits the bill and the one that does, kicker and future Hall of Famer Adam Vinatieri, is still working in the NFL.
Former SDSU offensive lineman Adam Timmerman probably makes the most sense and he does have a cool pedigree in being the first player in NFL history to win and lose a Super Bowl with two different teams. Or perhaps ESPN calls an audible and puts somebody from NDSU on stage.
Wouldn’t that throw the home fans into a made-for-TV tizzy.
Whoever gets the honor, it will indeed be an honor. Jensen has a large canvas print of his “GameDay” appearance in his basement “Bison room.” He’ll always cherish the footage of those several minutes.
“To sit on the air with those guys, it’s one of the days I’ll never forget,” he said.
He got into it a bit with Corso, who disagreed with most of Jensen’s picks with his signature “not so fast” line.
“I got not-so-fasted a lot,” Jensen said.
Jensen got a packet on the night before the show listing the games the crew was going to pick. Hansen said he remembers Corso disagreeing with most of his picks, also.
“I remember sitting in the trailer going over my picks, looking stuff up to make sure I wasn’t going to make a fool of myself,” he said.
He said co-host David Pollack was an incredible source of college football information, to the point that it almost blew Hansen away.
“He knew every insignificant detail of every team across the country,” Hansen said. “He’s perfect for the show.”
And the show is perfect for college football. Whoever the guest picker is.