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College GameDay is coming, whether we like it or not…

Three years ago, Kentucky fans redefined ESPN’s College GameDay for men’s basketball. The ESPN crew rolled in like they always do early on Saturday morning. Digger Phelps matched his highlighter to his tie and then reminded himself quickly to try to mention Notre Dame at least 3 times. “I think I can. I think I can.” The stage was set and then the doors were opened. Kentucky fans literally poured themselves into Rupp Arena, nearly filling each and every one of the 23,000+ seats. Gameday’s always look flashy on the television screen each Saturday morning. Whichever lucky school is selected for the spotlight appears to show up in the masses, eagerly cheering anytime one of the hosts mentions their school. And on the contrary, booing and hissing anytime the hosts utter the rival school’s name. ESPN didn’t have to use any clever camera angles though while in Lexington to put on the appearance of a completely packed house. Digger didn’t have to work too hard to start awkward chants when the crowd got bored halfway through the rather lengthy show. Kentucky fans packed Rupp Arena and brought the electricity from start to finish, creating a buzz around the entire city leading up to and following the morning’s events. The biggest question for Kentucky fan’s that day wasn’t whether or not to make the early morning trip to Rupp Arena hours before the game, regardless of whether or not tickets for the actual game were in hand. The biggest question was which Kentucky player to propose marriage to on the poster you worked on for 2 hours the night before.

Last year we scoffed as Vanderbilt fans tried to recreate the magic on College GameDay when Kentucky rolled into town. Not only did we scoff at the notion that Vanderbilt was worthy of such an event, but we marched right in and made it as much our event as it was theirs. Kentucky fans from the Nashville area, as well as many from Lexington and surrounding areas who made the journey, congregated before the Gameday event and created yet another “Blue got in” moment in Memorial Gymnasium. When the Vanderbilt crowd failed to rise to the occasion in the spotlight moment, Kentucky fans ceased the opportunity and gleefully sang out chants of “Go Big Blue! Go Big Blue!”

Now three years later, College GameDay is finally headed back to Lexington, Kentucky. When the spectacle, perhaps even “circus” if you will, strolled into town in 2010– Kentucky fans were still riding the high from the “return to glory” created by the arrival of John Calipari and his star-studded recruiting class. Kentucky hadn’t had the limelight in a positive way in so long that Big Blue Nation was nearly overflowing with excitement for a chance to take the grand stage in front of the entire country again. “We are the best. We are going to do College GameDay better than anyone else has done it before.”

(This video gives me chills)

The mood is vastly different this time around. Gameday will be here in less than a week for the Missouri game on February 23rd. The initial excitement of the return, coupled with Kentucky’s first SEC showdown with the newest addition Missouri, had all the fixings of a big time event late in the season. Looking at it now, could the timing be any worse? Even though we’ve all had almost a week to digest the information, the news of losing Nerlens Noel to a season-ending ACL injury still stings. The echoes of his screams can still be heard, and the horrifying images from that evening are still etched in the forefront of our minds. The only positive distraction could have been an inspired performance yesterday to show that the team was ready to rally around the heartbreaking loss of Noel. Instead, the complete opposite occurred. The same problems that have plagued this team all season long were not only still present, but even seemed magnified in the absence of Noel. Regardless of Kentucky’s outcome on Wednesday night against Vanderbilt, the team will still be less than a week removed from one of the more brutal losses of the Calipari era– a 30-point knockout punch from Tennessee on the road.

Kentucky fans seem to be having trouble identifying with this struggling team– and that is not a criticism of the fan base either. This season has provided more than a few head-scratching (more volatile for others, perhaps) moments. Coming off of the despair of the Noel injury, and the poor performances as of late on the court— will Kentucky fans be ready to rally around the team on College GameDay? Will 22,000 people roll out of bed this coming Saturday to not only rally around the team, but also show off Kentucky basketball on the national stage?

In a way, could the timing be any worse? Maybe not. But I also wonder (in my most hopeful of mindsets)– could the timing be any better? This team, this season, this fan base… needs some kind of a spark. The end result of this season doesn’t appear to be headed toward smiles and laughter like we experienced last season. Maybe Saturday’s GameDay event can at the very least provide one last rallying cry by the fans and the team to come up swinging at least one time before the end of the season. A win could obviously propel Kentucky in the right direction for the home stretch of the season. The win could also provide a tiny glimmer of hope and a much, much-needed “marquee win” over a Missouri team that will make the NCAA tournament (barring something crazy happening). More so than just the game and outcome of the game itself, can the Gameday event and hoopla give a spark to this team and this fan base during a major low point? Maybe we need this. Maybe this Kentucky team needs this.

Again, I’m not sure whether or not the timing is the worst or just what we need. Kentucky could take the grand national stage and crumble like they did against Tennessee. It’s hard to imagine a much worse performance than that, but this one would have the attention of the entire basketball-watching country. On the other hand, if Kentucky could somehow muster the effort and energy to pull off the win on the big stage– some positive momentum for the final few games of the season could be gained.

College GameDay is coming in 6 days, whether we like it or not. In a best case scenario, I have a feeling that pride might just kick in for Kentucky fans. If nothing else, will the fans at least be eager to prove as always that we have the best fan base in the country, especially for moments like this?


Article written by Ally Tucker

I once successfully requested "The Wobble" to be played 6 times at one wedding.

41 Comments for College GameDay is coming, whether we like it or not…

  1. Ridge Runner
    1:35 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Of all years & times to have colleg game day here.

  2. Ridge Runner
    1:37 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Sorry –don’t mean to be a downer….but just being honest. Now, where’s that moonshine.

    1:39 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink


  4. Ridge Runner
    1:43 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    By the way… the sign seen in the pic above, “Gettin’ Lucky In Kentucky”…whew, umm…gang, eh… I yi yi?? Certainly we can get more creative than that. Right?

  5. Ridge Runner
    1:47 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    How about this?


  6. Have Ticket
    1:53 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Will give away.

  7. Bluehaze
    1:53 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    5, It would certainly reflect the way we feel for sure

  8. Syrin
    1:53 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Heere’s how you use college game day. You keep Harrow, Goodwin, Poythress and WCS on the bench for the ENTIRE first half if not the entire game. Put in the bench guys who have 25% of the physical gifts of the starters but who would run through a brick wall to get a loose ball. Our heartless NBA players without NBA skills might get the message, but I doubt it since they haven’t gotten it yet. No, it’s NOT coaching as Nerlens was a much better player when he went down than he was at the beginning of the year. The only way I could think to blame coaching is if Cal’s side line rage fests for the better part of December were counter productive in addition to being an embarrassment to the program. Treat young kids like whipped dogs, and they’ll start to behave like whipped dogs. Wiltjer is certainly proof of that. When you bench a guy for missing a GOOD LOOK, he’ll just stop shooting. Meanwhile, Goodwin gets to stay in the game after driving one on five and charging or turning it over.

  9. Cat89
    1:54 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Fans support winning first, period. Second fans support all out effort, hustle and teamwork. The timing of this question is poor. The image of this teams last performance is far too fresh. If this group continues to resemble what we saw yesterday there will be a very few diehard fans that would show up. I’m guessing a few hundred, less than a thousand. You can’t increase your talent but you do have control of your effort level and willingness to receive direction. That is what endeared the “unforgettables” to the BBN, their all out effort and hustle. We’ll see.

  10. kybigblue
    1:55 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Hey,if fans of SEC teams who are going nowhere turn out when UK comes to town than the fans of the third place team in the SEC which claims to have the best basketball fan base in the nation should be able to turn out for Game Day.

  11. Ridge Runner
    1:59 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Yes, we all deep down can stomach a loss but the lack of energy and focus is what hurts us die hards I think the most. Hopefully, something will change. Hoping.

  12. Apologist
    2:05 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    LHL called this team “The Uncoachables”. I’m afraid that is accurate. I’m also afraid we will be luck to win again because it appears there are a few guys for which the draft can’t get here soon enough

  13. Mike
    2:06 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Is there a bigger UNDERACHIEVER in BB this year than UK? There can’t be when you factor in the talent level brought in…problem is, these duds didn’t buy in.

  14. whatthehellareudoinruss
    2:09 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink


  15. UK22
    2:13 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Support your team! You better believe I will be there at 9am!

  16. lonnieb
    2:14 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Is funny how the white players can do no wrong…..

    Im all for wiltjer shooting but he was like5-17 or something yesterday

    And the polson love is absurd…..he got worked on d over and over and over… many times one can get beat on a back cut in one game

    I appreciate the hustle but if your not good enough to play it is what it is.

    Im not even so sure if playing hard is the problem…there is no way that people look at goodwill and think he’s not playing hard…..he just does play smart….same with WCS…..and i thought poythress played hard all game ran down several fast breaks to break up easy baskets…….they just don’t make the smart play and don’trotate like hey should on D

  17. Jumpman78
    2:14 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    In short , it will be packed and only fair weather fans abandon ship.

  18. Bluebarn
    2:17 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Right now, the Kentucky Basketball Show is the best reality show in all medias. Will the players come around to the coaches teachings? Will the coach finally lose patience and put them on the bench? How are the fans going to react? All of this drama coupled with the ultimate goal of making it to the dance. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Even in a down year UK is the best.

  19. Ridge Runner
    2:20 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    17, that certainly is an interesting take I wasn’t expecting.

    Look, if they are yellow, green, or red….if they hustle & try, they need to play.

    16, We always get there early anyway, but 9am is a bit too early for me game day or not. Have fun bud.

  20. Ridge Runner
    2:21 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    19…I think most fans are waiting for that one sustained spark the team shows before the place would go ballistic. If the hustle/focus can’t be seen…nor will the fans be heard. Think graveyard.

  21. crazycatfan
    2:23 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    I would be there to show my support, but I live 800 miles away. I still love my Wildcats and will be watching ESPN all day, just to catch a glimpse of the BBN in the background! I have no doubt they will be there in full force! GO BIG BLUE!!!

  22. GYERO
    2:24 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    The Vanderbilt game @ CWS comes to mind.

  23. uk102
    2:27 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    does anyone think archie goodwin or ryan harrow will transfer after this year?

  24. uk4ever
    2:32 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Let usable our team pride, this can only show the players that we are there for them….so plastering for us! Go cats…I will always support!

  25. bung
    2:39 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    The fans will erupt at player intro…especially for Hood and Polson…homegrown kids are always appreciated if they hustle regardless of color…

  26. KC
    3:06 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    A solid win over Vandy will help turn things around and give them the boost they need A.N., hopefully!

  27. RichieFarmer'sMustache
    3:21 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    “With all due respect, Ms. Tucker, I believe this will be our finest hour.”

  28. Alisha
    3:35 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Go big blue! I am the N

  29. bdown
    3:48 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    I really hope the stadium is packed for Saturday. It will show that we still support our team, that we are not band wagon fans and that UK has the most passionate fans in the country! I know I will be there bright and early

  30. Bamacat55
    3:52 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    It needs to be a team effort this week. The guys come out inspired on Wednesday night to get the win and the fans show up in support on Saturday. If we remember the Vandy crap that Digger pulled last year. All the college kids get together for the ‘Go to Hell Digger Go to Hell’ chant.

  31. Thrashitup
    4:01 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink



    Go ahead. Lets see 30 of these

  32. Huh
    4:04 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    28, waaatttt?

    31, that would work in a hospital pick up game.

  33. Thrashitup
    4:08 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    32 why not use a national stage to let the one player who gave his all know the BBN is behind him? Hell I’m an atheist, but the kid isn’t and deserves a bit of support in his recovery. Not like we get another chance at national attention this season

  34. Go Cats!
    4:26 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    All I can say is if you got tickets Wednesday and aren’t going now – give them to someone else…Kentucky fans love Kentucky basketball through thick and thin…Big Blue Unite…Occupy Rupp on Saturday….Go Cats!

  35. PanhandleCat
    4:30 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    While I agree with most of this post—please—change “ceased” (which means stopped) to “seized” (as in To possess oneself of (something): seize an opportunity.)

  36. True Blue Fan
    5:23 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    College Gameday is our stage to show the world why UK Has the best fans in all of college basketball. Not only does it show our support, even as hard as it may be right now, it shows our commitment and demonstrates the rich tradition that lives in the bluegrass state. It can also be an opportunity to showcase to Noel our love and support for him in his road to recovery. We are UK and if a few of out players won’t represent our program the way our program deserves to be represented, the fans can step up and represent in place of them. Also, don’t you think this will reflect on future recruits. Wiggins did say one of the things he’s looking for in a school is a great fan base, I’m sure he doesn’t mean fans who are only fans when we’re winning and at the top of college basketball!

  37. Eric
    5:37 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    we need to pull out the “WE BELIEVE” chant from the football games 5 or so years ago. Perfect chant for this gameday.

  38. WilliamB
    7:43 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Im in that video I am the guy jumping around right above Rece Davis’ shoulder!! Gameday 3 years ago was such a great experience and hopefully its just as good this weekend!! We need these wins against Vandy and Missouri this week very badly.

  39. crazycatfan
    9:16 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    36 – Ditto that! WE ARE KENTUCKY!!!!!

  40. Jimi
    10:13 pm February 17, 2013 Permalink

    Pray for
    Next year

  41. PatGLex
    9:45 am February 18, 2013 Permalink

    I’m an old geezer (pushing 60) and I WILL be at GameDay, to support the current team if nothing else. Well, and to show up Digger. (I wish I had some brilliant ploy to get on camera…..) Someone could make a mint if they could figure out how to do foam flattops like the Packers fans with their Cheeseheads….