Sunday, February 4, 2007

ESPN GameDay draws ‘best fans in the country’

Enthusiasm falls after KU's loss to Texas A&M


They slapped on the crimson and blue body paint early Saturday morning.

By Saturday night, a day that seemed so right for Kansas University fans came to a crashing halt, as Texas A&M; came from behind in the second half and defeated Kansas 69-66.

ESPN viewers saw a lot of enthusiastic faces of KU fans throughout the day, but unfortunately the final images were of shocked and dejected Jayhawk supporters.

In the morning, the enthusiasm was there. Thousands of KU fans - children, students and adults - helped to add another chapter to the tradition-rich Allen Fieldhouse and boost their reputation as some of the country's most supportive college basketball fans.

"By far you are the best in the country," said ESPN analyst Digger Phelps, a former Notre Dame head coach.

ESPN had its college basketball crew - including the always enthusiastic Dick Vitale - in Lawrence for the key Big 12 Conference game.

Phelps flattered the rowdy crowd that had more than half-filled a portion of the east bleachers during the end of the morning's ESPN College GameDay. The traveling preview show to the day's college basketball action was broadcast live inside the fieldhouse unlike two years ago when ESPN instead used the hallway to house its studio set.

After a spirited morning when fans belted the Rock Chalk Chant on national television, before the game started in the evening ESPN again televised another live rendition of the Rock Chalk Chant.

Earlier, before the morning show, some fans had waited in freezing temperatures for almost two hours to enter the fieldhouse when the doors opened at 8 a.m. and scurried to land great seats.

"It just shows that we are some of the best fans in the country," said Chris Burton, a KU senior from Overland Park.

With the pep band, KU Spirit Squad and Baby Jay and Big Jay also in attendance, the morning broadcast had the feel of a pep rally for fans young and old.

"Before we came here, I didn't know there was real Jayhawks," said 4-year-old Sophia Rockhold, of Oskaloosa.

"I just though it would be kind of neat for her to see the Jayhawk and everything else," her dad, Jeremy, said.


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