The top 6 non-FBS sites that should host a College GameDay
Published: Tuesday, 09 September 2014 08:24
by Doug Samuels
After last season's first trip to North Dakota, ESPN announced on Saturday that College GameDay would be returning to Fargo for North Dakota State's home opener against University of the Incarnate Word.
By all accounts, the environment in Fargo impressed practically everyone associated with GameDay, and perhaps cracked the door open just a little more for even more non-FBS programs to play host the ESPN's premier pregame show. Even if that's not the case, we thought we'd have some fun with it.
That got me to thinking, if Fargo can pull it off, what other FCS/D-II/D-III college football environments could hold their water as a host of ESPN's College GameDay?
Here's the list that our staff at The Scoop came up with, in no particular order.
Eastern Washington (FCS) Roo Field
Unlike most of the venues on this list, you won't find Eastern Washington in the top 10, 20, or even 30 in the FCS when it comes to attendance..but boy that red turf is something to behold. EWU also opened the season at #1 in FCS and have one of the most explosive offenses in all of college football. Turning on GameDay to see that bright red field would be as unique as the field itself, and Eastern Washington is more than deserving of playing host.
Montana (FCS) Washington-Grizzly Stadium
Highly regarded as one of the top stadiums at the FCS level with some of the most breathtaking scenery as a backdrop, Montana has a great environment for game day when you couple that with their longstanding on the field success, making this an easy pick on this list. Since the stadium went up, the Grizzlies are 180-26, by my count. Last year, Montana was #2 in attendance behind Appalachian State, and with them gone to the FBS level and a 3,000 person lead on James Madison (#3 on the 2013 list), Montana should have no problem taking over the top spot.
Grand Valley State (D-II - MI) Lubbers Stadium
Grand Valley State's football program has churned out talented coaches like Brian Kelly and Chuck Martin, as well as various players on NFL rosters, and as one of the winningest programs in D-II football history, they earn their keep here on our list. Back in 2012, GVSU averaged the most fans per home game (12,034). Also worth mentioning is the fact that two-time winner of the title of "Beer City USA" Grand Rapids is a short drive from GVSU's campus in Allendale.
Mount Union (D-III - OH) Stadium
Mount Union may not draw the same type of crowds as their Division III counterparts, but it is the oldest NCAA stadium in the entire football-rich state of Ohio (opened in 1914), and they have an absolutely dominant home field winning percentage, winning the last 77-straight home contests. The field is also home to 11 National Championship teams, and 22 straight Ohio Athletic Conference titles. The lore that surrounds the stadium and the teams it has housed makes it tough for anyone to come in and steal a win.
Wisconsin-Whitewater (D-III - WI) Perkins Stadium
Last year, UW-Whitewater drew an average of 7,552 fans per home contest, which was good for second nationally in all of Division III. One of the perks about College GameDay making it up to Whitewater is that fans will be able to see one of the dynasties of small college football. Dating back to 2007, the Warhawks have been in the National Title game nearly every season (missing the playoffs in 2012), winning in five times (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013), and finishing runner up every other season (2008, 2012). Plus, during the season the WIAC is so good top to bottom that picking a quality opponent to make the trip worthwhile will be really easy.
St. John's (D-III - MN) Clemens Stadium
It's not often that you find a D-III program that draws more fans to games than their D-II neighbors, but that's exactly what happens at St. John's. The Johnnies have led the nation in attendance at D-III games for 15 of the last 20 years with an average of just under 8,000 fans per game. That beat the #2 team in attendance (UW-Whitewater) by nearly 500 fans.
Honorable Mention: Northwest Missouri State (D-II), James Madison (FCS), Yale (FCS), Pittsburg State (D-II), North Alabama (D-II), Bethel (D-III - MN).