"Obviously, it's a huge deal for both schools and all the players," Williams coach Mike Whalen said today. "I spoke to E.J." the Amherst coach E.J. Mills "last night, and he's excited and I'm excited."
The national telecast originates from the site of the week's biggest college football matchup. This season, "College Football GameDay" has been televised from the Ohio State-Penn State game, the Arizona State-Oregon matchup, and the Florida-Louisiana State showdown.
Saturday's broadcast will mark the first time the show is being produced at the site of a Division III college football game.
The stage built to hold ESPN analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler will be constructed later this week to the left of the north end zone at Weston Field.
Each week, one of the major attractions of the "GameDay" program is the fans mostly, but not exclusively, from the home school who pack the area behind the stage holding signs and screaming support for their favorite teams.
That area will be open to the public, Williams sports information director Dick Quinn said today.
"The gates open at 8 a.m.," Quinn said. "I imagine it will be quite a scene.
The size of the crowd might come as a surprise to some college football fans around the country certainly some of the ones who were already were complaining on an ESPN message board when word of the decision leaked out.
As early as this morning, one fan on an EPSN message board asked, "I wonder if 100 people will show up?"
Another queried, "Division III, how lame is that? I thought it was going to be the UGA/Auburn game."
Yet another fan wondered if Williams (5-2) and Amherst (4-3) is "a rivalry game of some kind."
Williams first played Amherst in football in 1881. The game is the oldest rivalry in Division III, and this year's edition marks the 121st meeting between the two schools more than Army-Navy (108 this December), Michigan-Ohio State (104) or Georgia-Aubrun (111).
ESPN approached Williams on Sunday afternoon, and after college officials gave the OK, the cable network, based in Bristol, Conn., had personnel in town yesterday to prepare for the broadcast, Williams Athletic Director Harry Sheehy said.