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Archive for Sunday, March 2, 2008

Loyal Jayhawk fans brandish their school spirit for ESPN

March 2, 2008

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GameDay comes to Allen Fieldhouse

ESPN's popular College GameDay broadcast from Allen Fieldhouse on March 1, 2008. Hundreds of Kansas University basketball fans showed up to put their pride on display. Enlarge video

Rock Chalk pride comes out for ESPN visit

The national spot light was shining on KU this weekend as ESPN hosted College GameDay live from Allen Fieldhouse. 6news reporter Cory Smith was on campus to see rock chalk pride at its best. Enlarge video

Kansas fans go wild as members of the ESPN College GameDay crew Rece Davis, left, Hubert Davis, Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas go live from James Naismith Court at Allen Fieldhouse. Students were allowed to enter around 8 a.m.

Kansas fans go wild as members of the ESPN College GameDay crew Rece Davis, left, Hubert Davis, Digger Phelps and Jay Bilas go live from James Naismith Court at Allen Fieldhouse. Students were allowed to enter around 8 a.m.

ESPN College GameDay crew members Digger Phelps, left, and Jay Bilas talk strategy live from James Naismith Court at Allen Fieldhouse.

ESPN College GameDay crew members Digger Phelps, left, and Jay Bilas talk strategy live from James Naismith Court at Allen Fieldhouse.

Scott Lienemann has thick skin. Clad in a purple Kansas State basketball jersey, he stuck out in a sea of blue Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, when ESPN filmed its popular College GameDay program for the third time since 2005. The taping preceded an evening basketball match-up, where Kansas University looked for payback after losing to Kansas State on Jan. 30.

Lienemann, a Kansas State freshman, endured good-natured ribbing from KU students and was in constant demand from television and newspaper reporters looking for the elusive Wildcat in Jayhawk territory. He responded admirably, agreeing to be interviewed by several reporters. But his amiable personality proved to be his downfall.

As one television crew flicked on its camera light, dozens of heads turned toward Lienemann. That's when the booing started.

It grew louder as the interview continued. It didn't stop.

Luckily for Lienemann, there were plenty of distractions for the hundreds of KU fans who came to Allen Fieldhouse early Saturday morning to represent KU in front of an audience of millions. The booing turned to cheers as filming began for SportsCenter.

"It's a great environment," said Leinemann, Atchison, who came to Lawrence for the weekend to visit his brother, who attends KU.

But he said it was strange being outnumbered by so many opposing fans.

"It's definitely a new experience. It's pretty weird," he said.

It was a little weird. Allen Fieldhouse was mostly empty, but the noise generated by KU fans was deafening. Urged on by ESPN analyst Digger Phelps, inspired by fight songs played by the KU band, and instructed in some staged theatrics by the ESPN crew, Jayhawk fans proved why Phelps called KU "the best College GameDay in four years."

Fans waved banners with KU- and ESPN-themed slogans, as well as large cutouts of the heads of Coach Bill Self and his players. The enthusiasm even infected Phelps, who found himself dancing with a member of the Rock Chalk Dance Team.

Andrew Winetroub, a KU senior from Leavenworth, attended with two friends. They saw GameDay being taped at Arrowhead Stadium in November when KU played Missouri in football. Winetroub said the lack of Missouri fans made this taping much more pleasant.

"It's an opportunity for students to showcase the university nationally," he said. "We're loud, but we're pretty respectful, so that makes us pretty enticing. Plus, Allen Fieldhouse is the greatest venue in sports."

KU freshman Jace Robinson, Oberlin, said ESPN's presence made him recognize how popular KU is across the country.

"It makes you realize how big the Jayhawks are that ESPN would actually come out here," he said.

As ESPN transformed the court into a makeshift studio, complete with several cameras and flat-screen televisions, it seemed the perfect way to get KU fans excited for the night's showdown, according to Topeka resident David Ozaki.

"It will be wild and crazy," he said. "They'll be ready for the game."

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