BLACKSBURG — On a crisp fall morning in the center of Virginia Tech’s campus, one of the largest sports television programs in the country set the stage for Virginia Tech’s biggest game of the season.

ESPN’s “College Gameday” broadcast live from Alumni Mall on Saturday morning, and fans began lining up as early as 4 a.m. to gain access to “The Pit,” the event’s most visible area of the backdrop behind the Gameday Stage and ESPN personalities anchoring the show.

Among the first Hokies fans in line was Codie Blevins of Dublin.

“It’s going to be a long day,” Blevins said. “Around here, Tech football is everything. Growing up, the only reason I even watched football was because of people like Mike Vick and Frank Beamer.”

During college football season, Gameday broadcasts to about 2 million people each week. Intercollegiate athletics have come a long way in terms of national relevance and production since Norm Clevinger graduated from Tech in 1969 — Frank Beamer’s class, he’s quick to remind people.

Just before the show went on the air, Clevinger held a sign with the words, “Death Valley is a pain, and there’s no place like Lane. Go Hokies.”

“It’s nothing like it has grown into now,” he said. “I’ve had season tickets for over two decades, and it’s just gotten better and better.”

The excitement on campus ahead of Gameday’s arrival throughout the week was palpable, according to Tech sophomore Wil Lannon.

“It’s exciting,” he said. “It’s been 10 years since Gameday has been here, so people realize that and get hyped about it.”

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