Kalamazoo gets to show off its pride in WMU on ESPN GameDay

And now for something completely different.

The college football regular season is rapidly coming to a close and across Kalamazoo, the city is putting on its brown and gold. The Western Michigan Broncos are one of two teams in the nation that remain undefeated in regular season play.

Plus ESPN is in town to feature WMU on the sport network's College GameDay presentation. The video trucks have already been spotted on campus. 

They’re here because WMU has not been beaten this season in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision. The other undefeated team is No. 1-ranked Alabama. Both schools are 10-0. The undefeated Broncos are No. 14 in the AP Top 25 and No. 21 in the USA Today Amway Coaches Poll and College Football Playoff rankings.

To make sure everyone is full up with Bronco pride there will be a Bronco Stampede rally Friday, 5:30 –7 p.m. Nov. 18.The pep rally begins at 6:15 p.m. on band shell stage. This free event will feature live music, a food truck rally along South Street with food for sale. Buster Bronco and WMU Cheer and Dance, photo stations, and special areas to make signs for GameDay will all be part of the rally. 

There’s likely to be some chanting about Row the Boat. Does everyone know what it means by now? In 2013 Coach PJ Fleck told the Kalamazoo Gazette: ““There are three parts to rowing the boat. There is the oar, which is the energy behind rowing the boat. There is boat, which is the actual sacrifice, either our team or the administration or the boosters, or the audience or whoever is willing to sacrifice for this program. There is also the compass. Every single person that comes in contact with our football program, fans or not, they are all going for one common goal and that is success.”

He goes on to say that “When you literally talk about rowing the boat, you’re facing the opposite direction the bow of the boat is actually going,” he said. “You’re not able to see the future. We’ve set sail and we’ve set our direction from point A to point B, whether it’s right now to win a MAC Championship, or be the first person in your family to get a college education or to beat cancer.”

WMU will be facing Buffalo in Saturday’s game, a team that has won only twice this season. The Bulls have scored no more than 17 points five times this season, reports NCAA.com. They are at a distinct disadvantage against WMU. 

Western hasn’t had things all their way this season, however. In a Tuesday night game against Kent State last week, the Broncos were trailing well into the second half. The weather and few fans in the stands both conspired to put the Broncos off their game. They rallied with a safety and two straight touchdowns over the final 13 minutes of regulation that turned a 21-21 game into a safe 37-21 Western Michigan win. (Thanks NCAA.com for that info, too.)

Now WMU and, by association, Kalamazoo will be on College GameDay, which features news and analysis of the day’s upcoming games. The weekly three-hour show will air live at 9 a.m. from the Sangren Pedestrian Mall at the center of main campus, with the area opening to fans two to three hours prior to the start of the show. The show typically takes on a festive tailgate party atmosphere, as thousands of fans gather behind the broadcast set, in view of the show's cameras. Many fans bring flags or hand-painted signs, and the school's cheerleaders and mascots often join in the fun. 

According to one expert interviewed by WWMT the GameDay show averages 2 million viewers and that means the publicity for the hometown of any GameDay team is huge. He says that a study has shown that it would cost a community or school nearly $3 million if it were to pay for the free publicity it gets from being featured on the ESPN Saturday morning show.

Another GameDay tradition is the predictions that take place at the end of each broadcast. Lee Corso is one of three on the show who tell which team they think will be the winner. Corso keeps it interesting by putting on the headgear of the team that he predicts will win. Corso has been making his entertaining end-of-show headgear pick for 20 years, and week 12 at Western Michigan will feature headgear No. 287 for Corso. He is 189-97 all-time in headgear picks, reports WMU News.

More information on the ESPN College GameDay visit to WMU is available here.

It’s hard to believe with all this excitement, but if we are reading the WMU website correctly there are still tickets available for Saturday’s game at 3:30 p.m. in Waldo Stadium. It will be televised nationally on ESPNU. 

The local media has been excited out ESPN’s pending  coverage, as well. Here is a roundup of some of the stories 

Why it matters that ESPN's 'College GameDay' is coming to Kalamazoo (MLive)

Expert: College Gameday in Kalamazoo could provide millions in direct PR value (WWMT)

‘College GameDay’ brings national spotlight to WMU (WOOD TV Channel 8)

ESPN College GameDay coming to WMU Saturday (WMU News)

And more straight up football stuff is here

Undefeated college football teams: 2016

Go Broncos!

Kathy Jennings is the managing editor of Southwest Michigan's Second Wave. She is a freelance writer and editor and a Central Michigan University grad who has been known to cheer for the Broncos on occasion.
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