Last Saturday the basketball edition of College GameDay rolled into Lexington for the UK/Kansas game. It had been here in the past, but I had never felt compelled to go. I figured this time for the sake of the podcast I should make the trek Rupp Arena one time to check it out. Having experienced it now once, I can say with some confidence that Football Game Day is far supperior to its basketball counterpart, and if the show does make a return trip to Lexington in the future I probably won’t go.
Typically the crowds at Basketball GameDay are decidedly smaller than the crowds that Football GameDay gets. This is Lexington, however, and there was definitely a good turnout of UK fans. I did spot a couple of Kansas fans, but the majority of the crowd was supporting the BBN. There were signs a plenty, but I didn’t see any that were better than what you see on Football GameDay. Again, not to say that the crowd wasn’t enthusiastic, but it didn’t seem near as organic as Football GameDay crowds. Since the show is only an hour and doesn’t start until 11am EST there was a lot of sitting around and waiting from the crowd, which kind of seem to dampen the enthusiasm. Sitting around and waiting was only interrupted by either the crowd being directed to yell for spots they were filming to be aired later, when ESPN gave a live look in or when fans were participating in some on court games. These games included a three point contest, CATS (instead of horse) and a dunk contest. Surprisingly no one was hurt during the dunk contest, only two of the participants, however, were successful in really dunking the ball, one was a UK cheerleader.
I had forgotten that Digger Phelps was no longer a part of the show and was a little disappointed I didn’t get to boo him. Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg (uses old school paper for his notes), Jay Williams and Rece Davis all do an ok job with what they have to work with. I found it odd that they read their own tweets about the UK/Kansas game at the start of the show and there didn’t seem to be any theme song opening ala Football GameDay. They also didn’t pick any other games besides UK/Kansas at the end of the show.
In the end, one of the biggest reactions from the crowd besides when the cameras were turned on them was the fan half-court shot challenge for $18,000. Spoiler Alert, he did not win the money.
It was pretty clear why Basketball GameDay doesn’t get the crowds at other schools like they got in Lexington. The format and entertainment value just isn’t as good as it is with Football GameDay. Since it’s inside Basketball GameDay was much more difficult to leave and come back, once you were in the arena you were in. Yeah you could have left and come back, but it was a bit of a hassle. Even though Football GameDay is four hours long, it’s outside and it’s easier for fans to leave, go to their tailgate and comeback for the middle or end of the show. Football GameDay has also been on much longer (1987) than Basketball GameDay and has really endeared itself to fans. Basketball GameDay debuted in 2005 and almost seemed like an afterthought, someone at ESPN decided that they needed an equivalent to Football GameDay, and they through something together. The show just doesn’t feel like it’s evolved as well or is as organic as Football GameDay.
Although I would encourage anyone who lives in the vicinity of a Basketball College GameDay to go and experience it at least once, I probably won’t go again if it comes back to Lexington. If Football GameDay comes back, however, I’ll be front and center.