KU students welcome College GameDay to Lawrence
LAWRENCE, Kan. (KCTV) - The traveling circus that is College GameDay continued its arrival in Lawrence Thursday afternoon, as the ESPN show’s official tour bus arrived on the south side of David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium to a welcoming chorus of cheers from students, cheerleaders and members of the band.
As the bus rolled in toward the bottom of The Hill, where ESPN’s flagship college football show will broadcast from Saturday morning, on-lookers gawked at it. Among those who appeared to take a look at the bus were members of the Kansas football team, who quietly appeared outside the Kansas football facility to check out the show’s arrival.
“It has just been so exciting. I feel like it’s about time that our community comes together to rally for football,” said sophomore Molly Mohajir, a cheerleader for KU. “We’ve always been such a big basketball school which has been great, but revenue gets brought in by football, so it’s time we finally feel what college football is and the true environment that comes with that.”
Kansas announced Wednesday that “The Booth” would be sold out for the third consecutive game on Saturday. With that, and the first matchup between two ranked teams in Lawrence for the first time since Oct. 25, 2008, comes College GameDay.
“Even just last week, being in a full, sold-out stadium, it gave me chills,” said Mohajir, who said her father coached under Glen Mason at KU. “I was on the field getting emotional because this is what all of our fans deserve. To have a great football team and this is also what our student-athletes deserve, to have a stadium filled up. I think it’s just very surreal and also so exciting for the future of the athletic department.”
College GameDay isn’t completely unfamiliar to Lawrence. The basketball version of the show has appeared at Allen Fieldhouse numerous times. Since the basketball show’s inception in 2005, Bill Self’s program has hosted the show 10 times and been the visiting team for a GameDay show another 11 times.
“College football is something that is so special that you can’t get from college basketball,” said Mohajir. “Like the tailgating, the pregame and everything like that. I’m just so excited that our football players get to experience that.”
Kansas football has only participated in the game featured by College GameDay once, during the 2007 season when No. 3 Missouri and No. 2 Kansas played the Border War at Arrowhead Stadium. Until Saturday, Kansas was one of eight Power 5 institutions which had not hosted the show, along with California, Illinois, Syracuse, Duke, Maryland, Rutgers and Virginia.
With a 5-0 start under coach Lance Leipold, the Jayhawks’ matchup with No. 17 TCU snaps Kansas’ drought from hosting the show.
Freshman Caleb Kalcich is from Oklahoma and grew up rooting for the Sooners. With Oklahoma’s two early losses and Kansas’ hot start, Kalcich told KCTV5 that local students have told him to appreciate the success.
“They’ve told us to enjoy it while it’s here. Don’t expect this every year, but maybe we should because Lance Leipold is here,” said Kalcich.
ESPN will air shows from the GameDay set throughout Friday before the main show starts Saturday morning at 8 a.m. The first two hours will air from The Hill before the show -- and fans -- head inside for the final hour and kickoff at 11 a.m.
“I don’t think anyone on this campus expected this but we’re all here for it,” said KU senior Jared Katzen. A native of Michigan, Katzen said prior to this year his friends had given him a hard time regarding Kansas’ football program’s record. “To be here and ranked and have College GameDay on our campus, I mean in dreams I would imagine Lee Corso putting on a Jayhawk head. Literally, now it might be becoming a reality.”
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