What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever put on a resume?
For BYU students Ben Potter, Frances “Frani” King and Craig Walker, competing on a nationally televised trivia competition hosted by brothers Peyton and Cooper Manning is a strong contender.
“I think there’s a section on the resume that it would be appropriate,” King said.
“Yeah, the game show section at the bottom,” Walker quipped.
The three students, dedicated members of BYU’s Quiz Bowl, are representing the Cougars in Season 2 of NBC’s “College Bowl,” which premieres Friday night. They filmed in June, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime event that Potter, a senior majoring in biology, wanted to include in his applications to medical school — except he couldn’t yet reveal he was on the show.
But you can bet he’ll find a way to bring it up during the interview process.
“It was like a dream come true,” he told the Deseret News during a recent Zoom call. “Because not only was I competing and playing the game that I love, but also hosted by Peyton Manning. So it was like the best of both worlds.”
A passion for trivia — and Peyton Manning
Potter, who did Quiz Bowl all throughout high school and college, happens to be equally avid in his support for Manning and the Denver Broncos.
“Growing up it was always watching the BYU Cougars on Saturday and the Broncos on Sunday,” said Potter, who is from Grand Junction, Colorado. “He’s my favorite football player of all time.”
Potter was especially delighted that the NFL legend autographed his “raggedy old” Manning jersey, a well-worn item from his youth.
While Potter’s passion for the Broncos is unrivaled — at least among his Quiz Bowl peers — his enthusiasm for trivia is heartily matched by King and Walker.
All three students were proud to represent Brigham Young University, which has competed on different iterations of “College Bowl” over the years and has its own unique history with the show. In 1994, the school forfeited its spot in the finals due to the competition taking place on a Sunday.
To prepare for the competition, the three friends, who frequently play Quiz Bowl together, practiced even more over Zoom. They made flashcards and watched a lot of “Jeopardy!”. They ran through questions and honed their deduction skills.
And they solidified their strengths: Walker is the go-to for American history, politics and current events; King, who is a microbiology major, knows her music and art; and while Potter has a strong background in anatomy and physiology, he’s also particularly confident when it comes to literature.
“I felt like we covered our bases pretty well as a team,” King said.
“It was the biggest confidence boost that we had,” Walker added.
Competing on ‘College Bowl’
The BYU students felt prepared when they arrived for filming and met teams from a wide range of schools, including the University of Notre Dame, Duke University and Columbia University, which won the 2021 season of “College Bowl.” Although it’s a fast-paced game where the teams are competing for $1 million in scholarships, the BYU team found that it was overall a friendly environment.
“We’re competing against each other — we shouldn’t like each other,” Walker joked. “It made it a little difficult — but not too difficult — to compete. I’m self-interested enough.”
The BYU students also quickly realized they had an advantage over some of the teams who were meeting for the first time during filming. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t feel the pressure as they competed against the University of Washington with multiple cameras in their faces as Manning watched it all unfold.
“It was definitely a little more nerve-wracking than our average competition,” Potter said.
While their minds went blank a few times, Potter, who is president of BYU’s Quiz Bowl team, believes the intensity of being on national television made their minds sharper.
“I was surprised by how quickly things came to us,” he said. “With the adrenaline, I think it just kind of brought out the best of us. We’re lucky that way.”
Will ‘Jeopardy!’ be next?
The BYU students are now about three months removed from filming, and other than the major moments — including a special appearance from Cosmo the Cougar — they’re surprised by how little they remember from it all. In some ways, they feel like they’ll be experiencing it for the first time when they watch it on TV.
“I mean, I already know what happens. I shouldn’t be as nervous as I am,” said Walker, who is in Israel doing a study abroad through BYU’s Jerusalem Center. He plans to watch it with his BYU peers on Saturday, when the episode starts streaming on Peacock.
Potter will also have to watch the game later — his brother is getting married Friday and the wedding reception is happening during the episode.
“I don’t want to steal his thunder,” he said.
But the three friends don’t need to see the episode to remember the adrenaline-infused thrill of it all.
“The only thing that might be cooler is if on ‘Jeopardy,’ you get BYU alumni Ken Jennings,” said Walker.
Jennings, who along with actress Mayim Bialik is now an official host of “Jeopardy!,” previously told the Seattle Times that BYU’s Quiz Bowl helped prepare the way for his unparalleled success on the long-running quiz show. With that strong precedent, it’s not too far-fetched for the three BYU students to hope they can eventually add “Jeopardy!” to the game show section at the bottom of their resumes.
“Maybe in a few years I’ll make it on someday,” Potter said.