JMU has great turnout for ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’

Mike Houston

HARRISONBURG –James Madison University had another great turnout for ESPN“s “College GameDay.”

The three-hour pre-game show was held at the Quad at JMU a7 9 a.m. Saturday. It was the second time in three years that JMU hosted the show.

It was only the ninth time “College GameDay” did a show at a Football Championship Subdivision school. They typically broadcast the show from Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

The crowd for the “College GameDay” was once again strong. There were an estimated 14,000 fans in attendance at the show Saturday. Two years ago there were 12,000.

JMU head football coach Mike Houston made a five-minute appearance during the first hour of the show. He said he was very impressed with the crowd.

Kyre Hawkins

“What a special deal,” Houston said after JMU’s 30-8 victory over Villanova Saturday afternoon. “I don’t see it every week and I’m not on these campuses every week. But when you look around right there and you see the support we have at JMU, there’s a reason why we talk about this just being a special place. That kind of support. There’s very few schools –  I don’t care what size, FBS, FCS, Big Ten (Conference) –  very few schools have that kind of support. So we’re very blessed here at JMU.”

Houston was interviewed by ESPN “College GameDay” reporter and host Maria Taylor live in front of the crowd.

“That was a pretty intimidating atmosphere when you get up on that stage,” Houston said. “Plus (the 6-foot-2 Taylor) was about 2 inches taller than I was.”

ESPN also did a segment on JMU junior running back Trai Sharp, whose father died during a game earlier this season.

One of the highlights of the show was ESPN “College GameDay” analyst Lee Corso pick of the JMU-Villanova game. Corso is known for wearing the headgear of the school he picks. Two years ago he dressed up like James Madison and then put on the Duke Dog headgear.

This year the guest picker for the selection part of the show was ESPN writer Gene Wojciechowski, who dressed up like James Madison. Corso did not dress up like James Madison but did once again pick them to win and wore the Duke Dog headgear.

The JMU players were not allowed to attend the show. There were 25,993 in attendance for the JMU-Villanova game, the second largest crowd in Bridgeforth Stadium history.

JMU senior linebacker Kyre Hawkins said that having such a big crowd for the game and the ESPN show motivates the players even more to play harder.

“That’s a big thing for us. We feed off of that,” Hawkins said. “Our community gives us a lot of enthusiasm. And when we go out there we play for, not only for our team, for our coaches, for our family, but we’re playing for the community as a whole. We all bleed purple and gold. And we’re all just trying to do the best for everybody that watch us.”