At 9am on Wednesday morning, five 18 wheelers pull up onto James Madison University's campus. All of them are labeled with a distinct logo. ESPN's College GameDay is here.
Set up begins almost immediately after sunrise on Thursday morning. The main stage is constructed directly in front of Wilson Hall. The GameDay crew works into the later part of the day preparing for the first live broadcast thats scheduled to take place on Friday morning.
Late in the afternoon, the camera and broadcast equipment is unpacked from the trucks and is moved to the main stage.
Students, faculty, and alumni gather in front of Wilson Hall on Thursday evening to welcome the College GameDay bus.
Lee Fitting -ESPN's Senior Producer and JMU Alum.- addresses the crowd just minutes before the bus arrives. Fitting was instrumental in making College GameDay's visit to Harrisonburg happen.
The crowd converges on the bus as it rolls onto the quad. The ESPN camera crew would later admit that this was one of the craziest welcome events they had ever seen.
The ESPN crew hypes up the crowd as they film segments that will air in between the live broadcast on Saturday morning.
On Friday morning, working media is invited to a press conference on the steps of Wilson Hall. Lee Fitting fields questions about his connection to JMU and how it influenced GameDay's decision to visit the FCS school.
Kirk Herbstriet -an ESPN analyst and one of the stars of College GameDay- talks about the show's first visit to James Madison University during the press conference on Friday morning.
A crowd builds in front of the stage on Friday afternoon as students stake out their spot to spend the night. Only the first 500 JMU students were permitted access to the controlled area that would be visible during the live broadcast. This gated off section was better known as "The Pit".
The view from from camera #1 looking over the PIT and quad on Friday afternoon.
In the broadcast truck, the ESPN team works late into the night editing and preparing the content that will be featured the next morning during the show.
By 6:30am on Saturday morning, music is blaring while students are awake and jockeying for a good spot to see the stage. The area completely surrounding the PIT is already more than 3 rows deep with students holding signs.
The ESPN crew prepares the main stage to go live from James Madison University in less than an hour.
A little after 8am, the analyst begin to arrive at the main stage. Dave Pollack -ESPN Analyst- dances and gets hyped up for the show's start while being wired for sound.
Lee Corso -ESPN Analyst and star of the show- jokes with the crowd as he holds up a JMU helmet and kisses it.
Minutes before going live, Rece Davis checks his notes while Lee Corso jokes with a crew member.
Right before the show's start, the joking stops and the whole crew -especially Corso- becomes quiet and focused. Game faces on.
For the first time ever, ESPN's College GameDay is live from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.
Sam Ponder -ESPN analyst- begins her segment as students cheer in the background.
Students cheer as the camera pans across the crowd.
Coach Everett Withers -Head Coach, JMU Football- unveils JMU's new helmet to the his team during an interview with Sam Ponder.
Desmond Howard and Dave Pollack joke with the crowd during a commercial break.
The view of the crowd gathered on the quad from the lower media section.
Pollack double checks his notes in between segments
As always, Herbstriet and Corso providing the entertainment for the show.
Corso being Corso.
As part of the College GameDay tradition, Students made hundreds of signs to hold up on Saturday morning for the show.
View of the crowd from Wilson Hall.
Rece Davis fires off statistics during the live broadcast.
Herbstriet checks his phone and Pollack watches highlights on the monitor during a commercial break.
Working as a College Gameday analyst and co host since 1996, Herbstriet delivers his segments with little challenge.
Dierks Bentley makes his way through the VIP section to the main stage. He would serve as the week's celebrity guest picker.
Rece Davis's official College GameDay notecards.
Herbstriet celebrates the end of a successful show with a team member.
Lee Corso arrives back at the main stage after dressing up as James Madison to officially make his pick from the steps of Wilson Hall.
After the end of the show Herbstriet stops, pulls out his cell phone, and takes a picture of the massive crowd in front of Wilson Hall. The entire ESPN crew was taken back by the level of participation and excitement that JMU displayed leading up to and during the show.