One of the best college basketball moments this season actually had nothing to do with basketball. During the UNC/Belmont game in Chapel Hill last month, a Belmont fan belted out a modified verse of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” during James McAdoo’s free throw, a moment so random and odd that McAdoo missed. Coincidence? I think not.
The video of the moment went viral, hitting every major sports blog including Deadspin, USA Today’s FTW, Yahoo Sports, ESPN, and of course, KSR. With Belmont getting ready for their showdown in Rupp down the road from me, I decided to catch up with Charles Van Dyke, the man who sang Miley. Here’s our Q&A:
TT: First all, huge fan, thanks for talking with us. What’s your background with Belmont? When did you graduate/how long have you been following them?
CVD: I went to Belmont and graduated in 2008. The crazy fan stuff started with the women’s basketball team when I would go stand behind the goals during free throws trying to distract the opposing players. The women’s team actually started calling me “Superfan,” after that. Since graduation, I’ve become a season ticket holder and attend all the home games. I sit with a rowdy young alumni crowd, so the taunting continues, even after graduation!
TT: Describe how you came up with the idea to sing “Wrecking Ball.” How much planning went into it?
CVD: Not a ton of thought to be honest. There were 15,000 people in that arena and it was dead quiet. That is always the perfect time to shine! I knew that yelling would be typical, so I thought singing might be a fun route to go!
TT: Why “Wrecking Ball”?
CVD: Maybe the better question is, why not, “Wrecking Ball”?! I was honestly going through all the popular songs I could think of and what more controversial/appropriate than good ol’ Miley!
TT: How did the people around you respond? Describe the immediate aftermath.
CVD: Honestly, not a ton of response at the time. The Belmont crowd around me laughed and I think the UNC fans just went on not cheering for their team. Things didn’t pick up steam until just after the game was over.
TT: Did you have any idea it would go viral? What was it like to see the video hit the web and spread on social media?
CVD: I got one text message during the second half of the game saying I was on some website. I thought, “Hey, that’s cool,” and thought nothing more. It wasn’t until the end of the game when another friend texted me to say that the video had made Deadspin.com. After that, insanity ensued! We drove back to Nashville after the game was over and my phone did not stop from texts, Facebook posts, and tweets. It was crazy and it didn’t slow down when I woke up Monday morning. The following week included interviews with local media and one or two national places. It was insane, but a really fun ride!
TT: Any good stories from the aftermath? Any neat media opportunities/celebrity sightings? For instance, did [Belmont superfan and country music singer] Vince Gill call you?
CVD: I never heard from Vince, but one local news channel had JJ Mann sing the song during his interview the next day. I later apologized to him for causing him to sing! Jim Rome did talk about this for almost 10 minutes the next day on his show. That blew my mind. Also, I now have a good reputation with one of the local sports talk shows, The Midday 180. I can call in and they know immediately who I am. That’s pretty awesome!
TT: Have you heard what the Belmont team thought of the moment?
CVD: Haven’t heard too many comments, but Coach Rick Byrd did comment in that same interview that JJ Mann had to sing. My favorite line of his from that interview was, “I don’t mean to offend anyone, but I wouldn’t know a Miley song if it hit me in the head.” I did hear, via Twitter, from last year’s amazing duo of Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark. They both thought it was hilarious!
TT: Are you planning to come to the UK game Saturday? If so, plans to sing Miley or any other songs?
CVD: I do have tickets to this weekend’s game! I’ll be in the upper section, so not sure if my voice will carry over the UK fans. I hear you guys get loud in Rupp! I’m excited to experience one of the best atmospheres in college basketball, but also wonder what the over/under is of me getting thrown out for singing?!
TT: What were your impressions of the Dean Dome and expectations for Rupp?
CVD: The Dean Dome is a great place to watch basketball, but the crowd was a tad underwhelming because the only time they cheered is when their team was coming back. I expect the great fans at Rupp to be cheering on the Cats whether they are winning or losing.
TT: What can you tell UK fans about this Belmont team?
CVD: It’s an unselfish team this year. You should guard everyone behind the 3-point line because even the big guys can drain a three. Right now, we are a little underserved as we’ve had a few injuries since the UNC game. But rest assured, this Belmont team has gotten a lot of attention over the years for a reason. They can come in and upset anyone when the time is right. Can’t wait to see what happens!
Me too, especially in the upper deck during one of UK’s free throws. In the meantime, it might not hurt to pipe some Miley over the speakers during practice, Cal. I know Drew Franklin would approve.