"I think they just felt like they found the guy," the host exclusively told E! News about the decision to finally launch The Golden Bachelor. "He has just been so incredible. He's so personable. He's so loving. He was the perfect person to do this."
However, Jesse admitted he initially had some questions about how the season would play out with a 72-year-old lead. While the show would still feature the roses and date cards viewers have grown to expect, he wondered if the cast "would face the same difficulties or challenges" fans see on The Bachelor, The Bachelorette or Bachelor in Paradise.
Turns out, the journey is every bit as dramatic. "They do, but there's a different maturity level," Jesse explained. "And I think that just comes from experience in life and emotional maturity as well that the women, that Gerry, have. And the way that they decipher problems, the way that they think about some of the situations that they're in—whenever they face adversity, it's pretty interesting. It's a very, very resilient group of people. That's probably been one of the more surprising things for me."
The Golden Bachelor—which premieres on ABC Sept. 28—will follow Gerry's journey as he seeks a second chance at love following the 2017 death of his wife Toni. And while Jesse often serves as a mentor to the Bachelor or Bachelorette, he said his role changed this time around.
"There's really nothing and no advice that I can give Gerry that he doesn't already know," he shared. "There's nothing I'm gonna be able to tell Gerry about love, about relationships, about intimacy, nothing. You know, I find myself in very different positions."
"One of the things I've really enjoyed about this group of women? They are so much more confident getting out of the limo on night one—unlike anything I've ever seen," the 44-year-old continued. "It's always the limo entrance arrival, the nerves stepping out, cameras, the mansion, all of it. Because they've lived life [and] they've had experiences, they are rock stars—and all throughout this season. On group dates, on one-on-one dates, traveling, they just shine."
Of course, Gerry can't give his final rose to all 22 women. But as the retired restaurateur from Indiana says goodbye to the contestants amid his search for the one, Jesse says an uplifting feeling remains.
"The vibe of the show up to this point has been very different from the other shows that I've been a part of in the last two years," he noted. "There's really this sort of overarching theme of hope on this show. If it doesn't work out between Gerry and one of the women, it's not so much heartbreak but it's more, 'You know, I wasn't sure I could put myself out there again and give love another try. You and this experience have given me the courage to do that moving forward, and I believe I'm gonna find my person.' And it's beautiful."
However, Gerry's season isn't the only one Jesse is excited for. He'll also be hosting season nine of Bachelor in Paradise—which premieres right after The Golden Bachelor—and is getting ready for his new chapter as a dad as he and wife Emely Fardo prepare to welcome a baby girl.
And yes, Jesse is excited for college football season, too. To celebrate what he calls "the greatest time of year," the former quarterback—who played for the University of Florida's Gators before competing in the NFL—is partnering with the collegiate licensing company CLC for its 19th annual College Colors Day on Sept. 1 and Fan Out Loud campaign, which encourages sports enthusiasts to show their school pride through their team apparel and social media posts.
"The Gators have a massive game coming up," Jesse said, referencing the Aug. 31 matchup. "We're playing against the Utah Utes. They're a really good team. I'm gonna be rockin' my orange and blue. I bleed orange and blue. I'm gonna be rockin' my gear. I'm gonna be sharing it on social media, and I encourage all college football fans out there, regardless of who you cheer for, to do the same thing and get in the conversation on social media."