With a handful of good games to take in this upcoming college football weekend, ESPN has announced it is going to send its College GameDay program to feature one of the top Cinderella stories in the sport. And no, it’s not Colorado or Washington State.
ESPN will row the GameDay boat all the way to Kalamazoo, Michigan and Western Michigan’s campus! The Broncos host Buffalo this weekend as they inch closer and closer to a possible spot in the New Year’s Six bowl lineup in the College Football Playoff system. Amazingly, this is the first Mid-American Conference game ESPN’s sent GameDay to since 2003, and Broncos’ head coach P.J. Fleck played in that one. More on that from him later; first, here’s the GameDay announcement that they’re coming to see some #MACtion:
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 13, 2016
ESPN is known to regularly bring the GameDay set to the scene of the biggest game of the week, but every now and then it journeys off the beaten path to highlight a school or matchup that either flies under the radar or makes for an interesting twist. Western Michigan is 10-0 and looking to be the Group of Five school with the most likely path to a possible spot in the College Football Playoff’s New Years Six bowl lineup this season. There is not much standing in the way of Western Michigan.
The Broncos also have one of the most unique characters in the sport in head coach P.J. Fleck (seen above), someone who’s getting a lot of buzz as a candidate for bigger schools, and Fleck and the program are worthy of being highlighted just two years after going 1-11. For his part, Fleck (who was playing receiver for Northern Illinois the last time College GameDay was at a MAC game, the Huskies’ 2003 clash with Bowling Green) is thrilled, as he told David Gorecki of The Detroit News:
“A few days ago I got a text from Rece Davis, who I got to know over the course of the season, telling me you’re kind of in the running in Kalamazoo (for GameDay), what would it be like, what kind of environment would it be, those types of things and we found out today they picked us,” said the 35-year-old P.J. Fleck in a phone interview Sunday morning.
“I think this is one of the biggest things to ever hit Kalamazoo, I really do. I want the entire city to embrace this. I know for the four years that I’ve been that this could be one of the greatest things to ever come to Western Michigan, Kalamazoo and the surrounding areas and I want everybody to embrace it.
“This does not happen all the time. The last time GameDay came to a MAC school I was a player (at Northern Illinois) and they came to Bowling Green. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the community to show what we’re all about on a national stage for multiple days, and then obviously with the game. I expect a sellout, I expect this town to really be turned upside down and to really enjoy this experience.”
One site that would have been a solid alternative for this week would have been Boulder, Colorado for the Colorado vs. Washington State game, but the GameDay crew was just in Pac-12 territory this past weekend for the Washington-USC game. This is GameDay‘s best opportunity to get to the MAC to see Western Michigan. It’s certainly a different approach for them, but it’s cool that they’re recognizing a special season by a school outside the Power Five.