Jay Bilas: Kicking Off The GameDay Season

  • Jay Bilas [ARCHIVE]
  • College GameDay | January 13, 2011

I think, wait, I know that college basketball is the best game of them all. Here's why:

First, basketball is the best game ever invented. It is continuous action where the players have to play offense and defense with no breaks for conversion. There are no committee meetings or huddles after each play for all to catch their breath and discuss and plan the next play. Basketball is not a sadistic ground acquisition game, but a balletic yet physical contest among great athletes of skill. In basketball, skilled players are the norm, and don't need to be identified as such.

Second, in basketball, every game counts. In football, if you lose a game or stumble, you may very well be out of the championship picture. In basketball, the champion is not determined via computer and media vote; it is determined by play on the court. If Boise State can really play, they get to prove it in basketball. In football, it has to argue whether it can really play.

Third, basketball doesn't require standing around in a parking lot for an entire day, eating, drinking and setting fires.

Lastly, basketball has all of the character and tradition of football, and more. And, that is the best part of College GameDay. Every week, we get to revel in and showcase the best fans, venues and traditions of the unique places over the landscape of the greatest game of all, college basketball.

Our first stop is in Knoxville, Tenn. for the Vanderbilt Commodores against the Tennessee Volunteers. And, one game isn't enough for us. We will bring you the game between the women of Tennessee and Vandy AND the game between the men. It will be a celebration of the game, not just of the men's game or the women's game.

Here is what will happen when we hit Knoxville on the second weekend of January:

- Hubert Davis and I will arrive in Knoxville and head to the rental car counter to pick up our Prius, and will drive to the hotel in a green fashion.

- Digger Phelps will arrive the previous Sunday, so as to eliminate the possibility of weather delays. Digger will be picked up at the airport by the local sheriff, who will have to squire the aging master from place to place during his weeklong stay in Knoxville.

- Rece Davis will arrive via private jet, and be greeted by a large staff that will take him via golf cart to a waiting limousine. From there, Rece will be driven to a different hotel, rushed in the back door through the kitchen, and taken up a private elevator to the top floor, all of which has been blocked off for Rece's comfort. After a team of quality control experts goes over every inch of Rece's suite, including the determination of whether all soaps are hypoallergenic, Rece will enter, with rose petals thrown at his feet by his entourage.

- Hubert and I will scout out a place for dinner on Friday night, preferably one that can serve us so that Hubert can get back to the hotel by his 9:30 p.m. bedtime. In Knoxville, we will eat barbecue - Period.

- On Saturday morning, we all squeeze into my Prius to execute a GameDay tradition. We drive to a local Starbucks and get coffee, largely to help keep us awake during the show meeting run by our producers, Lee Fitting and Marc Carmen. While Digger and I drink large cups of joe, Hubert drinks only green tea while meditating with incense.

- Rece does not partake in the Starbucks ritual. He is usually finishing up his morning massage and sitting down to a full breakfast prepared by his private chef. During our meeting, Rece will make his usual demands for a certain amount of "singles" - a shot where he is on camera alone with none of the rest of us in view. Watch for that…Rece leads the nation in singles.

Then, when the lights go on and the cameras roll, we get to talk about basketball in front of passionate fans, in a great venue, before an important day of hoops. And then, all is right with the world. We have venues on tap that we have been to before and know such as Tennessee, Purdue, Kansas, Florida and Michigan State. But we also have new venues such as Virginia Tech, Villanova and Baylor. I cannot wait.

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