Kalamazoo is finally getting some positive recognition. ESPN’s pre-game broadcast, College GameDay, for any college football fan, is a big deal. The analysts talk about the games of the weekend, the stories from around college football and spend a great deal of time discussing the matchup they have decided to cover. This year, the College GameDay crew rolled into Kalamazoo before the Western Michigan University (WMU) Broncos’ game against the Buffalo Bulls.
The Broncos are one of two remaining undefeated teams in college football this year, attracting the attention of College GameDay. Fans flocked from around Kalamazoo to get as close as they could to the stage that lifted the famed analysts, Lee Corso, Rece Davis, David Pollack and Desmond Howard, above the crowd.
College football hubs all over the nation host GameDay. Cities like Baton Rouge, Columbus, Tuscaloosa and Ann Arbor are among those featured. GameDay arrived at WMU on November 15th and broadcasted Saturday, November 19th, on ESPN.
Immediately the town erupted with the arrival of GameDay. There were crowds of people outside of Sangren Hall on Western’s campus when the crew arrived.
Support for the Broncos has grown substantially since P.J. Fleck took up the head coaching job on December 17th, 2012.
“Historically, this town hasn’t really been behind Western Michigan. But since P.J. got here and they started winning, everybody loves a winner right? So, it shows how a community can be unified, there’s school pride involved, it’s a really cool thing. I’m glad to be here to be able to showcase it,” said GameDay commentator Rece Davis.
Kalamazoo treated GameDay as if it was the main event. Each analyst had a donut created in their honor. Sweetwaters, a local bakery, continued to serve donuts during the duration of the crew’s stay which was five days.
Not only for those five days, but all year round Michigan is known for its crazy weather patterns, and the weather didn’t disappoint while GameDay was here. On Friday it was 70 degrees and sunny shifting to cold and snowy on Saturday.
“I have never been here before so this is my first time. So I hope it snows tomorrow. Not like the sleet nasty snow, um, it’d be nice if it snowed. I’d be ok with that,” said GameDay commentator David Pollack.
Saturday morning rolled around and, sure enough, the wind was whipping and the flakes of snow were falling. Still, many people came out to experience GameDay.
“There were people in a line stretching all the way up to the Bernhard Center. They were camping out the whole night before,” said Cody Wilkins, a junior at Loy Norrix High School “It [GameDay] was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
GameDay isn’t something that small towns like Kalamazoo get to experience very often, if at all. This experience was a way to show the pride and culture of Kalamazoo to the rest of the nation.
“It was more than just a game, it was a chance for everyone to show the tremendous amount of pride that they have in the great city of Kalamazoo. Row the boat!” said Wilkins.