‘College GameDay’ brings national spotlight to WMU

Reporters gather at Western Michigan University on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 before Saturday's big game before Buffalo.
Reporters gather at Western Michigan University on Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 before Saturday's big game before Buffalo.


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo will be at the center of the college football world Saturday morning.

“College GameDay,” ESPN’s national pregame show, will be broadcasting live at Western Michigan University from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. ahead of the Broncos’ matchup against Buffalo.

For WMU graduate and lifelong fan Phil Long, this is a once-in-a-lifetime season.

“You realize, you know, this is not just another good, good season — this is big time,” Long told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.

The Broncos are 10-0 on the season, one of two remaining unbeaten teams in the FBS. They are ranked No. 14 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

The visit by “College GameDay” marks ESPN’s first such trip to a MAC school since 2003.

“Well, it really is a dream come true,” WMU Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard said. “Right now in everyday college football, it is by far the best (team) that we have had.”

>>Online: Western Michigan on ‘College GameDay’

ESPN crews have been following the team and head coach P.J. Fleck since Monday morning.

“Imagine those electric panels they put on people to get their hearts going. That’s what P.J. Fleck is,” ESPN reporter Gene Wojciechowski said at Tuesday’s press conference.

“I can see why people have gotten excited about this program, and I can see why these players are buying into it,” he continued.

Now, the university and the city as a whole will be cashing in. Beauregard said the national exposure is worth millions of dollars in free advertising and marketing.

“It’s every restaurant, it’s every hotel, it’s the gas stations,” Beauregard said of the local places that stand to benefit from the busy weekend ahead.

“We have so many unique opportunities to share with America,” she said of WMU.

And at the forefront is the football team and their magical run — one that has even the oldest of fans, like Long, dreaming even bigger yet.

“As great as it is right now, just how much greater can it be by the time this seasons over?” Long wondered.

The Western Michigan game, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m. at Waldo Stadium, will be televised on ESPNU. Tickets are still available, but are expected to sell out.