[SCENE: ESPN College Gameday returns from commercial break with camera panning over large rowdy crowd in Punxsutawney, PA while Gameday’s theme song, “Comin’ To Your City” by Big and Rich, plays in the background.]
RECE DAVIS: [Narrating as camera shows people in the crowd] Welcome back to Gobbler’s Knob in beautiful Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania! What an incredible crowd we have here for Groundhog Day 2018. Hundreds of these weather fanatics have camped out here all night waiting to see Phil. I swear, the signs they make get more creative every year.
[Camera cuts to many of the Gameday signs]
DAVIS [CHUCKLING TO HIMSELF]: Now it’s time to make our Gameday picks. Let’s bring out our celebrity guest picker. Starring as Phil Connors in one of the all-time great meteorology films, Groundhog Day, it’s Bill Murray! He’ll be joining Desmond, Kirk, and Lee on set to make all the Groundhog Day predictions.
[Crowd cheers as Bill Murray steps out of limo and high-fives people in audience while walking to the stage.]
DAVIS: Before we get to the main event here, let’s start with some of the lesser known, but still locally famous Groundhog Day traditions. Charles G. Hogg, a groundhog from the Staten Island Zoo known simply as Staten Island Chuck, has predicted an early spring the last 3 straight years. Does that streak continue?
DESMOND HOWARD: It’s not surprising that Chuck hasn’t seen his shadow in the last 3 years. After the Mayor of New York dropped him 2014, I’m surprised he’s been able to see anything at all. That said, Chuck looks to be fully recovered now, and I think this year he finally pulls it off and sees his shadow. Six more weeks of winter for our friends to the east!
BILL MURRAY: You know, I’m really glad my character Phil Connors didn’t have to film a segment for Chuck. Imagine spending an eternity in Staten Island. Oof.
[College Gameday crew laughs hysterically. Desmond Howard slaps Bill Murray on the arm.]
MURRAY: Anyway, I think the shadowless streak continues. Spring is right around the corner for Staten Island because if anyone gets stuck in a time loop there, hopefully the weather will at least be nice.
LEE CORSO: [Pointing pencil eraser at Bill Murray] GREAT PICK! Not only has it been 4 years since Staten Island Chuck last saw his shadow, he’s only seen his shadow one time in the last 10 years. One time! I’m picking spring is right around the corner…in a close one!
KIRK HERBSTREIT: I’m with Desmond on this one. Yes, Chuck has pattern of not seeing his shadow, but if you look at the forecast for New York City, AM snow is expected to give way to clearing skies. This is going to make conditions extremely bright with the sun reflecting off the fresh snowfall, and when it’s really bright, you have some very dark shadows by contrast. I think Staten Island Chuck sees his shadow easily.
DAVIS: Next up we head down to Georgia where groundhog General Beauregard Lee will be making his prediction soon. This will be Beau’s first year in his new habitat after being relocated to Butts County. Will the unfamiliarity impact his prediction today?
HOWARD: Beau has a reputation of producing the most accurate Groundhog Day predictions of any rodent in the country with a stunning accuracy of 94%. I don’t think the new location rattles him whatsoever. This woodchuck is a professional. He even received an honorary DWP, Doctor of Weather Prognostication, from the University of Georgia. Beau’s forecast will be consistent with the CPC and the standard La Niña patterns showing warm temperatures for the majority of the south. No shadow today. Go Dawgs!
MURRAY: Do groundhogs even live that far south? I thought they just had those gopher puppets I tried to blow up in Caddyshack.
[College Gameday crew burst into even harder laughter. Kirk Herbstreit turns into a tomato again.]
MURRAY: Okay, so if this Beau is in fact a real groundhog, his move to Butts county means he’s going to see more butts. His shadow’s butt!
[College Gameday crew continues shrieking with uncontrollable laughter. Corso accidentally drops another F-bomb.]
CORSO: [Takes a deep breath to collect himself. Then jabs a pencil toward Bill Murray nearly poking his eye out.] NOT SO FAST! The south already had its required winter storm this year. I don’t think they get another one. I’m picking Beau does not see his shadow today…in a close one!
HERBSTREIT: Now I’m not too sure about this one. While my own prediction aligns with La Niña and the CPC forecast of an early spring in the South, we’re talking about what Beau’s prediction will be. I know he’s a seasoned veteran, but going on the road to an unfamiliar hostile environment causes problems for anybody trying to make a prediction. I’m picking Beau sees his shadow today.
DAVIS: And now for the Groundhog Day event you all came to see!
[Crowd roars with cheers and whistles as hype video begins playing of previous Punxsutawney Phil predictions.]
DAVIS: Will our friend Punxsutawney Phil predict that spring is around the corner, or will he see his shadow today signifying six more weeks of winter?
HOWARD: Just take a look outside. It’s been completely overcast today with on and off flurries. There’s is no way that Phil will be able to see his shadow in these conditions. He’s picking spring to be right around the corner!
[Crowd cheers loudly]
MURRAY: When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter. HAHA JUST KIDDING. Spring is on the way, and Phil knows it! Let’s hear it for spring!
[Bill Murray waves his arms to pump up the crowd and they cheer even louder.]
Crowd: [Chanting] WE-WANT-SPRING! WE-WANT-SPRING!
HERBSTREIT: I’m with you guys. The CPC and La Niña outlooks certainly aren’t unfavorable for warmer temps here, and it’s gonna be tough to spot a shadow in these conditions. What it really comes down to though, is Punxsutawney Phil digging deep to snag a big home victory for the crowd here. Spring is right around the corner!
[Crowd cheering breaks weather enthusiast gathering decibel record but quickly hushes in anticipation of Lee Corso’s headgear pick.]
CORSO: Now. In both Staten Island, and the Deep South, I picked the groundhogs to predict an early spring arrival. That alone would certainly make it a great day of weather prediction. It wouldn’t be a shock if Punxsutawney Phil followed up with a big victory for spring as well. That’s too predictable though. Groundhog Day 2018 needs a big upset. Give me the shadow! SIX MORE WEEKS OF WINTER!
[Lee Corso puts on helmet depicting a black silhouette of a groundhog (Bucky Badger head under a Blanket) and waves to raucously booing crowd.]
DAVIS: That’s our show! Thanks for joining us. Up next is Punxsutawney Phil’s actual prediction! Be sure to tune in next weekend when ESPN College Gameday heads to Mt. Rushmore for President’s Day predictions.
Howard, Herbstreit, and Corso wave to the Television cameras while the crowd continues booing. Bill Murray becomes trapped on the set of College Gameday for all of eternity.]