Do they have James Madison or North Dakota State’s rosters memorized? Nope. Do they remember vividly the trips they’ve taken to JMU’s Quad, downtown Fargo, N.D. and all the other FCS venues they visited?
Absolutely they do.
Just like the players at the FCS level, the fans are hungry for respect from the larger college football world. If they’re thrown a bone? They’re certainly going to suck the marrow out of the opportunity.
Coming into Saturday, the big question for Gameday’s talent is this: Which venue has been the best over the past five seasons when it comes to the last two FCS teams to win national titles — North Dakota State and Fargo? Or James Madison and Harrisonburg?
Desmond Howard was the first to bite.
“That’s a tough one, I love both of them to be honest with you,” Howard told HERO Sports. “(Fargo’s) another venue where you don’t get to that often and they show so much appreciation and so much love that you’re there. It’s a tough call. Both of them were outstanding.
“The thing about Fargo is that we went there once and it was great. We went there a second time and it was even better. We came here once and it was great but until I see tomorrow, I can’t really compare the two.”
A week ago today, James Madison’s home game wasn’t the only FCS game being considered. ESPN vice-president Lee Fitting said Friday that North Dakota State at Youngstown State was seriously considered until YSU fell to South Dakota on the road on a late field goal.
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This show could easily be in Ohio this week, and honestly? It should have been in Youngstown this week if the Penguins had won. But that didn’t happen … yet it still ended up at an FCS venue.
Boy, have things changed.
Gameday went its first decade without ever even considering an FCS/I-AA venue, and it wasn’t until North Dakota State’s title run earlier this decade that things really got ramped up.
It coincides with more and more FCS over FBS upsets, more and more FCS players being drafted into the NFL, more juggernaut story lines in general. The crowds have not disappointed.
“We had such a great time here the last time we were here, and everybody was so welcoming and the crowd was as good as any crowd we’ve had in my two and a half years on the show,” show host Rece Davis said. “(Picking it again) was how we felt. The winning streak was still intact and they’re defending national champions. So it worked.”
Former Georgia player and current GameDay talent David Pollack played against I-AA teams in college — Northwestern State and then I-AA Georgia Southern to be precise. Last year, he saw his Bulldogs nearly fall to Nicholls between the hedges. He said he loves following the FCS playoffs and he has loved the FCS crowds he has seen with the show.
And he has a message …
“Fargo brought it twice,” Pollack told HERO Sports. “Let’s see what you’ve got, JMU.”
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