It was hard to tell exactly why 150 Kansas University students and fans were so pumped to be at Allen Fieldhouse at 6 a.m. Friday, when most of campus was still asleep.
Maybe it was the 100-plus-year tradition of Jayhawk basketball. Maybe it was the chance to be on national TV. Maybe it was the sugar in the hundreds of Krispy Kreme doughnuts distributed.
Whatever the reason, the students, cheerleaders and pep band were determined to make the local broadcast of "Cold Pizza," the ESPN2 morning show, have the feel of a traditional game day -- even if the game isn't until tonight.
"This is what it means to be a Jayhawk and what it means to have KU spirit," said Shannon Sanderson, a senior from Olathe. "I think it's really impressive."
The two-hour show, which aired live from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and was rebroadcast from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., was just the beginning for KU's national exposure this weekend, which centers on the KU game against No. 16 Texas at 8 tonight on ESPN2 (Sunflower Broadband Channel 34).
ESPN's College GameDay will broadcast three shows -- 7 p.m. on ESPN2 and at 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. on ESPN (Channel 33) -- from the Fieldhouse today. Crews were busy Friday constructing a makeshift stage between the trophy cases on the east side of the Fieldhouse for GameDay hosts and analysts Rece Davis, Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps, Dick Vitale and Andy Katz.
The Fieldhouse is normally quiet on weekday mornings, with a few walkers pacing the concourse. But the studio lights and cables running into the arena signaled things were different Friday.
The KU portion of the show was hosted by Cane Peterson, with analysis by Lenn Robbins of the New York Post. Peterson interviewed coach Bill Self, senior forward Wayne Simien and longtime broadcaster Max Falkenstien during several KU segments.
"There are two types of basketball programs out there," Robbins said. "There's college basketball and there's college Kansas basketball."
Of course, the comment generated cheers from the KU fans.
Peterson's wardrobe, however, didn't.
The host was wearing an orange shirt -- the school color of tonight's opponent, the Texas Longhorns. Several times, students chanted, "Change your shirt!" to Peterson.
At the end of the show, the Baby Jay mascot handed him a blue KU shirt.
Matt Suddock, a sophomore from Olathe, figures the KU program can't get enough publicity.
"It's awesome," he said. "It's deserved. We have one of the best programs in the world."