Rohlfing: The three tiers of possible ‘GameDay’ guest pickers

Former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney was inducted into the Iowa State Hall of Fame in September of 2016.

Noah Rohlfing

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but a certain college football program is coming to Ames for the first time ever.

You know, the one with the decade-old Big & Rich song as its opener and with a cavalry of characters recognizable to college football fans the world over. The one that visits the SEC and Ohio State more than anywhere else and that many thought would never visit the town with the best tap water in the state.

But now that GameDay is coming to Ames — and taking place 8 a.m. Saturday on the south side of Jack Trice Stadium near Reiman Gardens — the most important remaining question is: who will be the guest picker?

The GameDay guest picker shows up every week for the last part of the show — game picks. Usually, the guest picker is close to the university hosting the event or at least to the state. But on a few occasions, ESPN has gone rogue and just thrown a person in there who was famous, but not really representative of the home team. It has rarely gone over well.

The debate over who the guest should be has been ongoing on Twitter since the announcement and has been a point of discussion among Cyclone football beat writers for almost a month. 

I think it’s pretty clear who *should* be the guest picker, but it’s not going to stop me from sorting any and all possible contenders into tiers anyway, because content never rests.

These are not people who have officially been considered, just names I’ve seen bandied about on Twitter or mentioned in conversations with fellow reporters and friends. So take this with a grain of salt.


Seneca Wallace — I mean, this should be the guy for a multitude of reasons. A former Iowa State legend at the quarterback position with plenty of iconic moments — and an NFL career to boot — he’s a name most will recognize and has shown love to the Iowa State community since his playing career ended. His Wingstop location in Ames doesn’t hurt either. 

Dan McCarney — Another one whom almost all Cyclone fans would approve of. He had a long and mostly successful career leading Iowa State, and he was the first Iowa State coach to beat the Hawkeyes in almost 20 years when he won in 1998. 

Notable Former Cyclones in the NFL — Sure, it might be pretty soon for Hakeem Butler or David Montgomery to take the stage, but why not give them a chance if they want to? They’re fresh in the mind for many college football fans and would be another reminder of the growth Iowa State has made under coach Matt Campbell. 

Steele Jantz — Where is Steele Jantz nowadays? I hope he’s doing alright. 


Clayton Anderson — A former NASA Astronaut and an Iowa State graduate, Anderson has been campaigning on Twitter to be named the guest picker. It sounds pretty cool to me, so why not?

Former Cyclones in the NBA — Monte Morris and Georges Niang would be great guests, especially Niang with his Cy-Hawk history. Not so much football related, but then again, most of the people in this category are not. 

Dan Gable — I highly doubt this one will happen, given Gable’s Iowa history and attachment to the Hawkeyes through the wrestling program, but he is an Iowa State alum, national-title winner and an Olympic Gold Medalist. 


Kim Reynolds, Steve King or literally any political figure — It’s a bad idea. Don’t do it! 

Ashton Kutcher — “He’s a famous Iowan!” He went to the University of Iowa and is a big Hawkeyes fan. It would be pretty disrespectful to the host team were ESPN to choose Kelso as its guest picker. 

Kevin Costner — “But Field of Dreams!” Has nothing to do with Iowa State or Iowa football. 

Fred Hoiberg — GBR, but it’s not happening. Pollard already said he wouldn’t be on Twitter Monday afternoon. Sorry, Mayor.