Since ESPN’s College Basketball GameDay kicked off in 2005, the Kentucky Wildcats have been part of the event in 12 of 14 total years. They have come to Lexington in seven of those years. In several instances, like they will likely do this year, they have visited Kentucky games twice in the same year.
In 2010, Calipari’s first year at Kentucky, the Rupp Arena crowd piled in a record 22,144 fans for the morning show prior to the UK vs. Tennessee game, a number that has yet to be broken.
Needless to say, GameDay has been a big fan of the Wildcats over the years.
But why Kentucky?
According to ESPN’s Jay Bilas, co-host of GameDay since it debuted in 2005, the answer is easy.
“There isn’t a more passionate fanbase than here at Kentucky,” Bilas told the Kentucky media today. “This is the mecca of college basketball.”
Rece Davis, College GameDay’s original host, says the way the Big Blue Nation lives, eats, and sleeps basketball is second to none.
“Any time a program or a team is as important to the fans as Kentucky basketball is to these fans, it sort of permeates everything you do. You can sense it through the crowds at the show,” he said.
When Kentucky fans shattered the record for largest College GameDay crowd back in 2010, Davis realizes that’s something that no other fan base in the nation could top.
“There is one place on earth that would put 23,000 in for a pregame show 11 hours before tipoff as the fans did, and that’s here,” said Davis. “There is no other place on earth that would do that, and that’s awesome.”
The “big brother” mentality Kentucky fans possess plays a big role in GameDay always coming back.
“Kentucky fans love to look at the rest of college basketball and go “We’re Kentucky, and you’re not,”‘ said Davis. “I think that’s really cool, and that’s why we like coming here.”
Check out the entire interviews with Bilas and Davis:
Nothing beats the BBN.