Why Is College Gameday at James Madison?

Fans of ESPN’s College Gameday may be a bit shocked to see the college football staple broadcasting live from James Madison University. Gameday normally broadcasts from traditional college football powers and James Madison does not exactly fit that bill.

In recent years, the show has made it a point to choose smaller schools to broadcast from each season. It also helps that Gameday’s producer Lee Fitting is an alum of James Madison.

In past years, Gameday has broadcast the show from schools like North Dakota State and Harvard. James Madison is a football powerhouse in its own right. The FCS school is 7-0 this season and are ranked 4th in the country. They face No. 11 Richmond later in the day.

The Dukes have upset teams like Virginia Tech in past years. Despite being an FCS program, the school has some FBS experience. Head coach Everett Withers was a defensive coordinator at Ohio State under Urban Meyer. According to SB Nation, they are also led at quarterback by Vad Lee. Lee transferred from Georgia Tech after seeing limited playing time.

In addition to Gameday’s desire to broadcast from a new location each season, the college football schedule also worked in JMU’s favor. The Week 8 college football slate is not exactly full of marquee matchups. The timing was right for James Madison to host Gameday for the first time in school history. This was the scene when Gameday rolled into town earlier in the week:

Here is Lee Corso dressed as James Madison putting on the Dukes headgear:

It appears that Gameday may be headed to another nontraditional location next week as well.