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Kevin Schnepf, Published September 16 2013

Schnepf: Bison fans, chill out about GameDay location

FARGO - One would reason that Lee Corso’s inadvertent ‘F’ bomb would have created the most controversy ESPN’s College GameDay has ever endured during its 26-year history.

“Not so fast, my friend,” to steal the patented line Corso has uttered so many times during ESPN’s traveling circus – which announced Monday that it will pitch its tent in downtown Fargo on Saturday.

Therein lies a new controversy – at least according to a few angry North Dakota State football fans who are clamoring that GameDay should set up by the Fargodome. That’s where Bison tailgaters will once again fill the west parking lot prior to Saturday afternoon’s game against Delaware State.

The ‘F’ bomb Corso uttered prior to a 2011 football game between Houston and Southern Methodist pales in comparison to what some Bison fans tweeted on Monday:

“Downtown is terrible.”

“NDSU needs to regroup, lot of disappointment.”

“Worst possible location to pick … awful choice.”

“Way to screw the pooch on that location.”

“Major failure on location.”

Let me get this straight: ESPN GameDay is going to provide arguably the most exposure the NDSU football program has ever received and some Bison fans are upset the ESPN crew is going to set up shop in front of the iconic Fargo Theatre sign?

Chill out Bison fans. Be thankful that ESPN is even coming to Fargo. Because once the three-hour show signs off at 11 a.m. Saturday, you can bet NDSU will most likely never be mentioned on ESPN again until Jan. 4 – and that’s if the Bison reach their third straight national championship game in Frisco, Texas.

Be thankful that this Saturday, for whatever reason, lacks a marquee matchup like last week’s showdown between No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Texas A&M. Be thankful ESPN didn’t pick No. 23 Arizona State at No. 5 Stanford or 3-1 Arkansas at 2-1 Rutgers, or 3-0 Michigan State at 2-1 Notre Dame.

Be thankful that the game between unbeatens Auburn and LSU is at night.

Lee Fitting, the coordinating producer for ESPN’s college studio shows, was certainly wishing for a bigger game when he said this to the New York Times last week: “Next week is looking grim.”

But the grimness of a national perspective should mean joy for a local perspective. More than 2 million nationwide viewers will see the Fargo Theater sign and thousands of Bison fans waving signs behind ESPN’s mammoth set, which will seat Corso, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard.

You can bet ESPN will have cameras set up at the Fargodome tailgating lot. You can bet ESPN will show highlights of NDSU’s upset win at Kansas State, and perhaps its last two national championships. You can bet they will be talking to Craig Bohl, who with a win will become NDSU’s all-time winningest football coach.

And you can bet Corso will don the head of the Bison mascot over his head, predicting an easy Bison victory.

This kind of exposure is unheard of. It marks only the fourth time GameDay will be at a site of a non-major college team. It was at Florida A&M in 2008, Penn in 2002 and Division III Williams College in 2007.

So don’t let the site selection get your dander up. At least not to the point where you’ll be hurling ‘F’ bombs.

Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor

Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

or kschnepf@forumcomm.com