ESPN’s ‘Purple Mafia’ will be out in full force at Northwestern all weekend

ESPN has descended upon Northwestern University en masse in advance of tomorrow’s much anticipated college football matchup of No. 4 Ohio State at No. 16 Northwestern (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ABC).

ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike kicked off the weekend by broadcasting live this morning starting at 5 a.m. CT. The festivities continue throughout the day and Saturday morning when College GameDay Built by The Home Depot makes its first visit to Evanston, Ill., since 1995.

This weekend is Homecoming for the Wildcats – and for many ESPNers who have the rare opportunity to return to their alma mater in professional capacities. Mike Greenberg, who served as honorary captain of the Wildcats football team just last month, headlines the group. He will serve as Grand Marshal of the homecoming parade and festivities.

Home to one of the country’s top journalism schools, the Medill School of Journalism, it’s no wonder Northwestern has produced more than its share of ESPN commentators and other employees. Some members of the self-proclaimed “Purple Mafia” include JA Adande, Kevin Blackistone, Greenberg, Cassidy Hubbarth, Brent Musburger, Darren Rovell, Adam Schefter, Steve Weissman and Michael Wilbon.

Below is a complete schedule of weekend events at Northwestern involving ESPN. Check back with Front Row on Monday for a recap.

Friday:
6 a.m. – 10 a.m. (all times ET) – Greenberg and Mike Golic broadcast ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike live from Northwestern’s Deering Meadow
Noon — Mike Greenberg will host a lunch with 150-200 Medill journalism students, faculty and staff. The event will be available via livestream.
2 p.m. – Medill will host a panel discussion entitled “College Sports: What’s Right, What’s Wrong and What the Future Should Look Like.” The panel features ESPN’s Adande, LZ Granderson, Weissman and USA Today’s Christine Brennan, while ESPN Enterprise Unit producer Willie Weinbaum (another NU graduate), will moderate. The event will be available via livestream.
6 p.m. – Homecoming parade and festivities kickoff on campus, Greenberg will lead the parade as grand marshal and crown the 2013 Homecoming king and queen.

Saturday:
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. – College GameDay will originate live from The Lakefill, on the banks of Lake Michigan with Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack, with reporting by Samantha Ponder, Tom Rinaldi, Scott Van Pelt and Gene Wojciechowski.
3 — 8 p.m. – SportsCenter anchor Lindsay Czarniak and Northwestern football legends D’Wayne Bates and Darnell Autry participate in a pair of Chalk Talk sessions in Wildcat Alley near Ryan Field as part of the “Nissan Heisman House Tour.”
8 p.m. – Kick off of two undefeated Big Ten squads, Ohio State at Northwestern (ABC).