ESPN’s College GameDay for the Tennessee-Texas game in Knoxville. Photo by RTI.
The rivalry between Kentucky and Tennessee, no matter the sport, has been long documented between two passionate fanbases.
With 118 games played in football, Tennessee leads Kentucky 83-26 with nine ties between the teams. On the basketball court, though, Kentucky leads Tennessee 159 to 77 with over 200 meetings between the two programs.
With all of that history, plus a border rivalry with less than 180 miles separating the two schools, there’s no doubt that a rivalry will carry on as long as these two teams are playing.
Prior to the Top 10 matchup between No. 10 Texas and No. 4 Tennessee on Saturday night in Knoxville, ESPN brought down College GameDay for the Saturday morning show. Even before that, though, ESPN broadcasted the women’s College GameDay show from Knoxville on the prior Thursday night, making it two broadcasts in three days for ESPN from the University of Tennessee basketball arena.
Tennessee is the first school in history to host ESPN College GameDay in football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball – all in one year, too. It seems as though a weekend of Tennessee and College GameDay has rattled the cage of some Kentucky fans.
“Sick and tired of seeing Gameday being in Knoxville,” one user wrote for Rivals’ Cats Illustrated in the Rupp Rafters Basketball Forum on Saturday. “Football/Basketball/WBB. I’m sure baseball is next if they had such a thing. What has this school done in order for them to be all over ESPN??? I just don’t get it.”
ESPN’s College GameDay from Knoxville. Photo by Ric Butler/Rocky Top Insider.
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College GameDay has seemingly set up a second home at Tennessee, with four appearances since September. Tennessee welcomed in College GameDay for the Florida game and the Alabama game last season as Knoxville routinely impressed both ESPN and viewers around the country with strong ratings.
With a passionate fanbase that has already shown up earlier in the year, it makes sense that College GameDay would want to come back to Knoxville for the basketball season.
Tennessee is proving to be a place where GameDay can thrive at.
“Come on now, man,” ESPN GameDay host Seth Greenberg said about GameDay being at Tennessee last Friday. “LaPhonso [Ellis] and I were just talking about it. Tennessee is one of those places, they embrace – and they embraced – men’s college basketball in the SEC long before almost anyone. They have great love, great ownership, great passion, and great energy. They have a terrific team. You’ve got an incredible atmosphere. It’s going to be an incredible environment.”
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“You think about this,” Greenberg continued on to say. “We’re only on the road for six games, six College GameDays. Six. And Tennessee is one of those six.”
Success has found a seat at the table on Rocky Top in the few two years or so. Currently, here on Jan. 30, Tennessee’s football team ended the season at No. 6, the men’s basketball program is at No. 4 and rising, and the baseball team is the preseason No. 2 team according to multiple different publications.
There’s no doubt that Tennessee is still looking to turn consistent regular-season success into more postseason success. Still, though, College GameDay, in particular, is a regular season event. Tennessee is one of the hottest teams in the nation right now and boasts a fanbase that has proven to be active whenever the ESPN set and cameras are around.
As Tennessee continues to win, it looks as though College GameDay will continue to show up in Knoxville for baseball and football.
ESPN’s @CollegeGameDay and the students are set for Tennessee-Texas. pic.twitter.com/yvpchVJSHe
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) January 28, 2023