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Jeff Kolpack, Published September 20 2013

Long day for Herbstreit on Saturday starts in Fargo, ends in Texas

FARGO – His day will begin in downtown Fargo at about 6 a.m. and won’t end until the Kansas State at Texas game is over about 14 hours later. Saturdays get to be quite the journey for ESPN football analyst Kirk Herbstreit.

As usual, he’ll be on the set of the “College GameDay” pregame show from 8-11 a.m., this time in Fargo. He’ll immediately hop a ride to the Fargo Jet Center on the north end of Hector International Airport and board a private plane for Austin, Texas.

The plan is to spend a few hours in a hotel room in Austin watching college games on TV before heading to the stadium for ABC’s college football prime time game between the Wildcats and Longhorns. The fact one of the teams is K-State drew a smile from him on Friday.

NDSU defeated the Wildcats in the season opener.

“Ironically enough,” Herbstreit said. “I don’t know how many people in the history of college football have gone from Fargo, North Dakota to Austin, Texas in the same day to watch college football. I will achieve that feat.”

As usual, Herbstreit will broadcast the game with veteran play-by-play announcer Brent Musburger.

Instead of Times Square, it’s downtown Fargo

The original thought was to put Saturday morning’s show in Times Square in New York, show host Chris Fowler said.

“For various reasons, that didn’t make sense,” he said.

So when exactly did NDSU get on the “GameDay” radar? Senior coordinator producer Lee Fitting said sometime late in the fourth quarter of the Kansas State game.

He and some crew members were in a production truck during the Clemson and Georgia game talking about the next few weeks of locations.

“Someone said ‘North Dakota State is beating Kansas State,’ ” Fitting said. “And then someone said, ‘Gosh, haven’t they beaten a bunch of other FBS schools recently?’ ”

Research of NDSU and its two national titles began immediately. Its home schedule for this weekend matched up.

“From that point on, it just slowly picked up momentum,” Fitting said.

He was asked if NDSU fumbled on its last drive at K-State and didn’t win the game, would Fargo still have been in consideration?

“We wouldn’t be here. I can promise you that,” he said.

Fowler: It will not look like any other show

Green and yellow flags are flying from every building. Not many storefront windows are without a Bison sign of some sort. But ESPN did not go out of its way to give the downtown set location a campus feel.

“We are not overly concerned about making it collegiate,” Fitting said. “We don’t like altering the quote-unquote set location. We want it to be natural. I think the fans, the students and the town’s people will make it feel collegiate.”

It’s the first downtown set in the 21 years the show has been on the road. Fowler is in his 24th year with “GameDay” and North Dakota is his 32nd state for a location.

“This will not look like any other ‘GameDay’ that we have done before,” he said.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia