Can you smell what The Rock is cooking? Maybe not, but Boulder, Colorado certainly could this past weekend when Dwayne Johnson surprisingly joined the crew of ESPN’s College Gameday to highlight a match-up between the Colorado State Rams and the Colorado Buffalos.
Although Johnson is famously known for his stint in the WWE, where he earned the nickname “The Rock,” followed by a very successful acting career, the once-upon-a-time world champion was also a very talented college football player for the University of Miami. In fact, Disney’s Jungle Cruise star’s passion for the sport still shines as he’s part owner of the XFL, a non-traditional football league outside of college of the NFL.
Although Dwayne Johnson seems to have plenty going on in his life, the Black Adam star made his way to Boulder last weekend to surprise students and make his ESPN picks known loud and clear for week 4 of the college football season. Johnson, already a master at manipulating a crowd, had the place on its feet as he repped the black and gold of Colorado, which is currently experiencing a surge of interest thanks to the controversial hiring of former Jackson State coach Deion Sanders.
College Gameday – A Tradition Adored by College Football Fans
Broadcast initially from their ESPN studio in Connecticut, College Gameday has morphed into an “on the road” sports program that most college football fans tune into on Saturday mornings in the fall. From humble beginnings, the high-energy sports program brings with it chaos and excitement to college campuses around the United States as it breaks down the day’s biggest matchups.
Featuring Kirk Herbstreit, Rece Davis, Desmond Howard, and Pat McAfee, the show’s popularity has boomed over the decades, traveling to high-profile college campuses like Tuscaloosa, Athens, Columbus, and Baton Rouge. Although the show boasts a knowledgable and entertaining cast, most fans tune in to catch Lee Corso, famed Indiana and Louisville head coach, put on the mascot head-gear of which team he thinks will win the day. Of course, hilarity almost always ensues.
Dwayne Johnson’s Love Affair with Football
If you’ve never seen Dwayne Johnson up close, let me tell you: the guy is enormous. He looks like a football player, mainly because he was one. The Black Adam star played defensive end at the University of Miami from 1990-1994 when the Hurricanes were all the talk of college football. Johnson would play both in the Cotton Bowl in 1991 and the Orange Bowl in 1992 for a National Championship ending in a loss to Alabama.
The Fast X star would be one of many Somoan athletes who would make a name for themselves at a D1 school, but unlike others like Manti Te’o and Marcus Mariota, Dwayne Johnson would never see his dream of the NFL realized. Instead, he would play for the Canadian Football League before starting his career as a professional wrestler.
What Johnson and the Colorado Buffalos Have in Common
Although College Gameday guest pickers typically have an association with the game they are present for, Dwayne Johnson seemed to not have a direct connection to either Colorado State or the University of Colorado. However, Johnson, who plays Luke Hobbs in Hobbs & Shaw, does have one indirect connection to Colorado Head Coach Deion Sanders.
Sanders shocked the world when he was announced Head Coach of the Historically Black College Jackson State three years ago. The high-profile, one-time NFL great made a further splash when he flipped the top recruit in the nation, Travis Hunter, away from his alma mater at Florida State. Sander’s devotion to bringing national attention to HBCU programs that are typically outshined by bigger schools like Alabama, Georgia, or Ohio State excited Johnson, as the talent pool for professional football players is deeper than many realize.
Helping to promote his newly acquired football league, the XFL, Dwayne Johnson immediately met with Sanders in Mississippi to evaluate talent at Jackson State. Turns out, Deion, or Prime Time as he likes to be called, had a lot! The one-time wrestling champion realized that his product could benefit greatly from the waves Sanders was creating within the recruiting world of college football, and he’s continued his commitment alongside Coach Sanders after his transition to Colorado.
The Rock Sides With the Buffs
The Luke Hobbs actor would carry his support of Deion over to Boulder, and as Colorado (who went 1-11 last season) beat TCU in week 1 of the 2023 season, a team that played for the national championship last year, the spotlight was hot, and Johnson made sure to take advantage. Exciting the already ruckus crowd was an easy task for the Black Adam star, but seeing him interact with the sometimes cocky but always flashy Deion Sanders on screen was gold.
@The Rock had Deion Sanders SHOOK when he entered @College GameDay 😂👏 #collegefootball
Ultimately, Johnson would make his guest picks, which he did well. The Scorpion King actor would go on to select Colorado to beat Colorado State, which they’d do later that night in double overtime. The entire scene was a fantastic celebration of what Coach Sanders has brought to a team that was reeling from last season. In honesty, it was very reminiscent of the old Miami days, when rappers, actors, and any other names of worth wanted to be associated with the program in some way. Dwayne Johnson is just part of an attitude that Sanders is building around that program.
A Much Needed Break from Current Backlash
It’s been a rough year for Dwayne Johnson. In a string of unfortunate events, the latest being the cancellation of his show Young Rock on NBC, the long-time friend of Kevin Hart has faced a lot of backlash. Some would say that his star may be burning out.
Despite a return to the WWE, where he was once considered among the greats like Dave Bautista and John Cena, the Jumaji star was also recently named in a headline-grabbing $300 billion lawsuit involving the alleged kidnapping of a former WWE personality, Rhaka Khan. In addition, Johnson’s XFL took a $60 million bath in its first season.
To make matters worse, the San Andreas actor has also come under fire alongside Oprah Winfrey after a generous donation of $10 million to the People’s Fund of Maui, in relief of displaced residents due to wildfires in Maui, was called a lie by YouTube Channel Just In. Although most likely gossip, the rumors spread quickly around the internet, with many claiming that Johnson isn’t the person he plays on television.
What’s Next for Dwayne Johnson
Rumors abound regarding multiple projects that Dwayne Johnson could be involved in. One follows Disney’s Jungle Cruise movie featuring Johnson and Emily Blunt. Although nothing is confirmed, we do know that The Rock has been popping up here and there in the WWE, making guest appearances, and of course, there was his latest stent on College Gameday. He’s also made news recently when we “put his own spin on the brand new Tag Heuer Monico Night Driver wristwatch.”
Since we know that our readers love Dwayne Johnson, as soon as we know what’s next for the superstar, we’ll let you know first! Stay tuned!