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Phelps promotes ‘GameDay’

Andrew Owens | Friday, February 8, 2013

Former Notre Dame basketball coach Richard ‘Digger’ Phelps has seen it all at Notre Dame.

He recorded an NCAA-record seven wins over No. 1 teams as a head coach and guided the program to its only Final Four appearance.

This weekend, he’s challenging the student body to show the enthusiasm it displayed for so much of his coaching tenure when ESPN’s “College GameDay” visits campus. Phelps currently serves as an analyst for “GameDay” and other ESPN programming.

“GameDay,” which visited Notre Dame on Oct. 13 prior to the 20-13 overtime victory over Stanford in football, will broadcast from inside Purcell Pavilion on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Notre Dame is just the seventh school to earn a “GameDay” visit for each sport in one academic year.

“When you’re here for four years, you have certain moments,” Phelps said. “For a student body at your 20-year reunion, it will be ‘Hey, remember Louisville week? It was snowy and cold and it was a must-win for us.’ Here we are cracking the top-25 again and looking to make a statement.”

Phelps visited both dining halls Wednesday to promote the game against Louisville and ESPN’s on-campus appearance.

“To have it here for our student body, it’s second to none. I just want the student body to know that we’re unique,” Phelps said. “‘GameDay’ is about the enthusiasm of the student body. 

“What I want is like when we played San Francisco here and they were No. 1 and 29-0 and we had the pep rally the night before and the chant for an hour was ’29-1.’ Then with 30 seconds to go we were up by double figures. NBC made the announcement that the most-valuable player was the student body.”

Phelps said the atmosphere for Saturday’s 9 p.m. tip-off begins during “GameDay.” He said it was evident Indiana fed off its student body last week prior to knocking off No. 1 Michigan.

“The [players] were on the court [at GameDay] and said, ‘Wow’ when they saw the student body and how GameDay was going,” Phelps said. “I look at our student body as unique. That’s why we are Notre Dame. I’m very, very happy.”

Four years ago, “GameDay” made its only other appearance at Notre Dame for a basketball game. The Irish fell to Connecticut and Notre Dame’s 45-game unbeaten streak at home was snapped.

“It was a great ‘GameDay.’ Great atmosphere. A lot of things went on,” Phelps said. “We stood our own with the rest of the ‘GameDays.’ That’s what I want the students to realize – it’s your game. You’re the sixth man. You can’t let up for 40 minutes. We beat [North] Carolina here in ’87. We were down 16 in the first half. Same thing with UCLA – we were down 17.”

ESPNU will broadcast the first hour of “College GameDay” on Saturday, while the second hour will be shown on ESPN. Students can enter the Joyce Center anytime between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. Friday night to get into Saturday’s broadcast before the rest of the student body.