Bronco buzz: WMU hopes to capitalize on success

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The meteoric rise of Western Michigan University football continues.

On the wake of the team’s 8-0 start, head coach P.J. Fleck spent all day Tuesday at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut making various TV appearances. WMU is ranked No. 20 in the AP Top 25 Poll — their first such appearance.

But more than just the football team is benefiting from the national exposure.

“Every Monday morning, we’re seeing spikes in our online inquiries,” WMU spokeswoman Cheryl Roland told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday. “We would like to see this kind of exposure perhaps result in more international enrollment.”

While Roland said it’s far too early to tell what kind of impact the team’s magical run may have on admissions and on the university in the long term, the school sees an opportunity to capitalize.

“(It’s) certainly a recruitment tool. It’s a tool for development. It’s a tool for our alums. It’s a tool to bring attention to our wonderful faculty and students and all that they’re doing here on campus,” Vice President of Development & Alumni Relations Tim Terrentine said.

Western Michigan University, WMU, Broncos, Row the Boat
A sign in Kalamazoo encouraging people to attend Western Michigan football games. (Oct. 25, 2016)

WMU sophomore Alexandrea Cornell works in the school store. Last weekend, employees had a hard time keeping Bronco merchandise on the racks.

“We had a sweatshirt rack that we had to refill three or four times because that’s how many times people came in and wanting to buy those,” she said of the excitement surrounding the team.

“I think we have to use this platform to continue to tell stories about the Bronco experience and striking gold here on campus,” Terrentine said. “This is a Bronco moment.”

But it’s a delicate moment. Lose one game and that national ranking may be gone. Keep on winning and the team has a shot at a major bowl game — and all that attention keeps adding up.

Students and fans are confident in the latter.

“I don’t feel like we’re going to lose this season at all, to be honest,” freshman Jalen Hudson said. “We’ll go undefeated, for real.”

“Row the boat, man. We’re trying to row it all the way to the end,” graduate student Milan Bird said.

WMU’s football team has a couple of away games before returning to Waldo Stadium on Nov. 19.