University of Miami

Popular college football personality 'very, very hopeful' GameDay will be at UM for FSU

Fans cheer and wave signs during ESPN's College GameDay at the University of Miami in Coral Gables on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. The event took place a few hours before the University of Miami faced Notre Dame at Hard Rock Stadium.
Fans cheer and wave signs during ESPN's College GameDay at the University of Miami in Coral Gables on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. The event took place a few hours before the University of Miami faced Notre Dame at Hard Rock Stadium. mocner@miamiherald.com

Hurricanes football aficionados: How does another College GameDay at the University of Miami campus sound for 2018?

Sounds good to UM alum Chris Fallica, affectionately known as "the Bear" to millions of college football fans who watch the immensely popular ESPN College GameDay every Saturday during the season.

Fallica, the research producer who has a high-profile, on-air part in the GameDay telecast, told Hurricanes broadcaster Joe Zagacki earlier this week during WQAM's Hurricane Hotline, "I'm very, very hopeful we can duplicate that again on Oct. 6.''

That game, of course, is none other than nemesis Florida State at Hard Rock Stadium. GameDay locations are decided as the season progresses, but be assured that FSU at UM will be closely examined.

"That would be Florida State, absolutely,'' Fallica told Zagacki. "As long as Florida State doesn't start off poorly.

"If you look at the Canes’ schedule, I would think that it would be a shock if they were anything worse than 4-1 entering that Florida State game, with a really good chance of being 5-0."

According to the ESPN college football power index, "Miami has better than a 54 percent chance in every game this year,'' Fallica said. "According to the percentages and win probability, the toughest game they have on the schedule is that game at Virginia Tech right now in late November. I just love the way the schedule shapes out for Miami."

The Canes open against LSU (9-4 in 2017) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday night, Sept. 2, in the AdvoCare Classic. They host Savannah State (3-8 in 2017) on Sept. 8, travel to Toledo (11-3) on Sept. 15, host FIU (8-5) on Sept. 22 and face North Carolina ((3-9) on Thursday, Sept. 27, in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener at Hard Rock.

The Virginia Tech game in Blacksburg is Nov. 17.

Fallica said that the Canes "will be a small favorite'' against offensively challenged LSU."

As for the Seminoles (7-6), they open 2018 on Labor Day, Sept. 3, at home against Virginia Tech (9-4). Their next games leading to UM are Samford (8-4) on Sept. 8 at home, at Syracuse (4-8) on Sept. 15 and at Louisville (8-5) on Sept. 29.

Fallica graduated from UM in 1994, and worked as a student in the sports information office.

"It was a great time to be there,'' he said. "Never saw them lose a game at the Orange Bowl when I was there. I was right in the midst of that great 58-game home winning streak.''

Fallica said the Canes were a "very, very pleasant surprise last year,'' but that the way they ended the season disappointed fans to the point that it took away much of the euphoria they'd felt from all the good that had happened earlier.

"People for a while had been thinking the Canes were on the verge of a breakthrough,'' Fallica said. "It’s really weird. The end of the year, the way the season ended, I think people were disappointed. But if you go back to the beginning of the year and were to tell people before the year, ‘You’re going to win 10 games, you’re going to play for the ACC title, you’re going to play in a New Year’s Six bowl game, you’re going to beat Florida State, you’re going to beat Virginia Tech, you’re gong to beat Notre Dame,' people would have taken that in a heartbeat. ...

"Now you're in a position where you know you can get back there and you're better equipped to handle it the second time around.''

Zagacki asked Fallica what he thought about the environment last season at Hard Rock Stadium and last year's UM GameDay on campus the day of the Nov. 11 Notre Dame game.

"That was the one thing about last year that really struck me,'' Fallica replied. "I had been to a couple of games at Hard Rock Stadium. And we all talk about the Orange Bowl and how much we miss it and how it was the greatest home field in college football history. But the night of that Notre Dame game and the night of that Virginia Tech game, the environment in that building was unbelievable. I was shocked at how loud the place was, how — you talk about, oh, Miami, fair-weathered fans — the GameDay crowd at the University of Miami campus was unbelievable.

"That was our best show of the year in terms of turnout, the scenery, everything. We love going to places that we haven’t broadcast from in a long time and I would think everybody involved with the football program [should] just kind of pop that Notre Dame week on a recruiting reel and say, ‘Here you go. Come on down.’ "

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