Good morning from Rupp Arena!
As you’re reading this, you’re watching the first hour of ESPN’s “College GameDay” on ESPNU. (If you’re not, get thee to a TV!) I’ve been here for almost two hours so far, so allow me to give you some behind-the-scenes observations:
— As I walked in, Digger Phelps addressed the crowd for the first time only to be greeted with boos. For some reason, GameDay has given Digger the task of “hyping up” the crowd before the show, and let’s just say he wasn’t the best cheerleader. For twenty awkward minutes, Digger played nice and tried to get the crowd excited by telling them they will be the reason Kentucky beats Missouri tonight: “You’ll show the nation why there’s basketball — but then there’s Kentucky basketball. You will be the reason why tonight this team will take another step toward and NCAA Tournament bid.” Digger continued his awkward banter with the crowd, trying to lead them in the “Big Blue Shake,” a spoof of the Harlem Shake (more on that later). Watching Digger dance may haunt my dreams forever. Most creepy? When Jay Bilas took the floor and Digger yelled “BIG DADDY IN THE HOUSE” into the mic. Yikes.
— The crowd before the ESPNU taping looked to be about 14,000. They’ll announce the exact number on the ESPN show, but it’s definitely the second largest GameDay crowd behind Kentucky in 2010.
— Because of copyright laws, GameDay couldn’t use the actual Harlem Shake song during the show, so instead they came up with a similar song for the “Big Blue Shake.” Yes, that made it even more lame. It was saved by Jay Bilas dancing to the first part of the song by himself wearing a bizarre mask, followed by the crowd erupting behind him.
— Before the show started, the crew filmed SportsCenter segments, during which the crowd cheered loudly in the background. That’s when things started to get fun. CATS chants, Blue/White cheers and the wave rocked the lower bowl in Rupp, shaking the last of the sleepiness out of the everyone involved.
Funny things in the crowd so far:
– “Jay Bilas for President” sign
– Someone dressed as a panda
– Someone dressed as a horse
– Someone dressed as a wildcat (other than The Wildcat)
– a #TeamNF sign (Drew, aren’t you proud?)
– countless clever signs
— Sadly, almost all of the “Listen To Me” signs have been confiscated, by four people managed to get in with “Digger, YOU LISTEN TO US” t-shirts. What else couldn’t the confiscate? The “LISTEN TO ME” chant that rang through Rupp as the GameDay ESPNU show began. #neverforget
More throughout the morning…keep an eye on your TV for a very special (and familiar) fat head coming up…