“You people are crazy.”
John Calipari says it all the time. All. The. Time. But today, Calipari didn’t have to say it, because ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg said it for him. Not because of the fans or because of the history of excellence they’ve come to expect, but because of the sheer amount of media members who were set up and ready for some Q-and-A action with the College GameDay Crew.
“Like Cal would say, you people are crazy. How many people are here? We go all over the country and we never see anything like this,” Greenberg said of the packed media area. “And that’s what makes Kentucky, Kentucky. The genuine passion and ownership people have in the program and that you guys [the media] have.”
College GameDay only travels to the best of the best. The top programs, the biggest match-ups, the most heated rivalries. They’ve seen their share of Kentucky games, but they’ve also seen plenty of other “Blue Blood” programs. So what makes the Wildcats that much different from, say, a Duke or a North Carolina game?
To answer this question, Greenberg cited one of Kentucky’s proudest feats – five different head coaches have claimed national championships during their time with the Wildcats. And yet, “it’s about the program.”
“It’s the people’s program. The one thing about Kentucky is that it’s the state’s program,” Greenberg said. “That’s what makes it different.”
Of course, that does create some negative consequences. Increased scrutiny comes with the territory. And while Greenberg is adament about these consequences being widespread (largely due to social media and how easy it now is to send messages directly to coaches and players), “It’s amplified when you’re playing here.”
“If someone’s not playing well, it’s not like there are tens of thousands of people going, ‘don’t worry. The lightbulb will go on pretty soon.’” Greenberg said. “If a guy doesn’t have a good game, it’s probably more like ‘he wasn’t as good as people thought he was,’ or ‘Cal’s not using him the right way.’ You’ve got 24,000 coaches in there and, obviously, the rest of the Big Blue Nation.”
But that’s what makes Kentucky unique. And, easy to mimic.
“The Big Blue Nation is probably one of the first ‘nations,'” Greenberg said. “Now, Division III schools have ‘nations’ and everyone has a ‘nation.’ But this one is just a little more personal.”