FOX's Big Noon Kickoff show aired live this morning from Iowa City -- directly in front of the Pentacrest, to be precise -- and it provided a raucous, high-energy atmosphere to get the festivities started ahead of this afternoon's massive showdown between #3 Iowa and #4 Penn State (3 PM CT, FOX). While ESPN's venerable College GameDay pregame show -- the Grandaddy of all pre-game shows -- wasn't in attendance this weekend, the FOX equivalent provided largely the same experience, just with FOX branding instead of ESPN branding and a different cast of characters on set than Rece, Desmond, Herbie, and Corso.
Big set on location? Check.
A big crowd cheering around the set and hoisting up signs? Check.
Tear-jerking segments on the show itself? Check -- FOX didn't lure Tom Rinaldi away from ESPN for nothing (although he actually did a story related to the Ohio State-Maryland game, not the patients at the UI Children's Hospital).
Celebrity guests? Big check.
Big E, former Iowa football player, current WWE Champion, and longtime Pancheros aficionado, was all over Big Noon Kickoff -- he was practically as much a part of the on-set crew as Rob Stone, Reggie Bush, Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart, and Bob Stoops.
Big E and Bob Stoops were the clear highlights of the show, too. In addition to flexing with Herky (see above), he also praised the late, great Norm Parker and Phil Parker (who recruited E once upon a time, 18 years ago) as the key factors behind Iowa's consistently stellar defense:
Here's Big E giving props to Norm Parker & Phil Parker for the consistent excellence of Iowa's defense: pic.twitter.com/ZP9VCRmrkA— Go Iowa Awesome (@IowaAwesome) October 9, 2021
And he provided a dynamite prediction for the game itself:
Meanwhile, Stoops did not hide his pro-Iowa leanings whatsoever, providing hype man duties earlier in the show and leading the crowd in an emphatic LET'S GO HAWKS chant:
Bob Stoops, Iowa hype man— Go Iowa Awesome (@IowaAwesome) October 9, 2021
YOU LOVE TO SEE IT pic.twitter.com/WG9qFzo5id
He even shouted out Iowa's punter because Bob Stoops is Iowa to his goddamn core:
"They got the best punter in the country, Tory Taylor" -- Bob Stoops— Go Iowa Awesome (@IowaAwesome) October 9, 2021
And then he donned an Iowa hat to make his pick for the game:
Bless you, Bobby Stoops and Big E. You both bleed black and gold and we love you for it.