BOULDER – ESPN’s basketball rendition of College GameDay, in existence for a decade, made its first appearance at the University of Colorado on Saturday. The telecast from the Coors Events Center was a spectacle from start to finish, with the C-Unit making its presence more than apparent to the national TV audience.
For over two hours, the collective body of CU students – dubbed the C-Unit in 2004 – brought energy, costumes, and witty signs to the GameDay party as a way to kick off the day’s national basketball schedule. The lead attraction is Saturday night’s Pac-12 Conference game matching CU against No. 4 Arizona (ESPN, 7p.m. MT).
GameDay was hosted by Rece Davis and featured insights from former Notre Dame head coach Digger Phelps and former Duke star Jay Williams.
After the morning event, Davis spoke with CU athletic director Rick George and told him the “environment and the enthusiasm was right up there with the best that they have seen” for GameDay. “The crowd was attentive, they were into it, they listened to what we were saying on the show and responded accordingly,” Davis said. “ CU put on a great show.”
Students began lining up outside the Events Center at 11 p.m. Friday night and by 5:45 a.m. Saturday there was about 300 students clamoring for their chance to be on national TV. Conditions weren’t ideal (high winds and low temperatures), but that wasn’t going to stop any crazed fans.
The event goes beyond students showing off their creative humor and asking parents for money via home-made signs; it provides the university a stage to tell the rest of the country what CU is all about – and the school did that Saturday.
“It’s for Boulder, it’s for the university,” Associate AD of game management/operations Tom McGann said. “This is a two-hour promotional commercial, so hopefully we can show off the town and what it has to offer.”
McGann pointed out that high school students in areas such as New York and Florida typically aren’t exposed to the CU brand, but being on GameDay provides the university the opportunity to reach those students’ living rooms.
Colorado coach Tad Boyle is also hoping to use the exposure for his own recruiting purposes as he seeks to build a national power in Boulder.
Boyle had previously said that being selected to host GameDay was, “a testament to our players, a testament to our fans, a testament to our coaches and how far this program has come.”
It’s no coincidence that GameDay chose to come to Boulder when the Buffaloes host the nation’s fourth-ranked team. However, Saturday’s event was more about CU basketball and the atmosphere that has developed at the Coors Events Center during the Boyle regime.
Arizona hosted its first GameDay event just two years ago, and according to Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star, the turnout Colorado received was comparable – if not better – than that of the Wildcats, who boast four Final Four appearances and one national championship.
Colorado is proving that its fan support belongs with some of the best in the nation and hopes to prove that its level of play belongs in the same category.
Reflecting on the days when the average attendance at the Coors Events Center was about 3,000 – compared to the nearly 10,000 this season – McGann called GameDay being on campus a “culmination of everything we could have ever envisioned when we first moved the C-Unit to behind the basket where they stand today.”
McGann said when his department decided to move the student section from its previous seating section, it was accompanied by some controversy and anger from fans. But he said that move, along with the formation of the C-Unit, helped launch the wave of momentum Colorado basketball is experiencing.
“Our students showed themselves well, and their enthusiasm to be out here at six in the morning says a lot about our fans,” George said. “It was awesome, you can’t measure this kind of exposure.”