Even after a devasting loss to Florida on Saturday, UT students have spirit to spare.
So much spirit, in fact, that Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, the fourth hour hosts of NBC's "Today" show, may be taking their show to RockyTop.
As one of six finalists in a nationwide search, UT is competing to host a special "Kathie Lee and Hoda College Challenge" live broadcast during the first week of October.
The show came to campus yesterday morning to film some live look-ins on UT in front of Ayres Hall. Although Kathie Lee and Hoda were not on campus in person, a crowd of orange-clad students and faculty showed up to greet the cameras. In short two to three minute segments, the cameras rolled, capturing footage of countless choruses of "Rocky Top". After ESPN's "College GameDay" taped in Circle Park last Saturday, yesterday was the second chance in four days for students to appear on national television, if only for a second.
Chancellor Jimmy Cheek made an appearance, sporting his big orange spirit with a bright orange tie. As he surveyed the scene of cheerleaders and band members, he commented on the importance the national coverage can offer to UT.
"Anytime you get national publicity for your university it's always good," Cheek said. "To recognize our students and our faculty and what we're accomplishing at UT would certainly be great for us."
Although the student body was not informed of show's visit until Monday, the marching band and cheerleading squad managed to coordinate their mornings and send some of their members to perform for the camera. Directors told the band at 8 p.m. Monday night to be at the shoot by 9 a.m. Wednesday morning. For Ryan Demeniuk, freshman in music and tenor drummer, the short notice was no problem. He enjoyed the experience of playing on live TV.
"I've never really had this opportunity," Demeniuk said.
The band and cheerleaders took the spotlight, but most of the crowd were students. Tucker Hunley, sophomore in biochemical and molecular biology, heard about the competition through Facebook and a campus-wide email from SGA. Even amidst a busy week, including two exams and a paper, Hunley made sure to stop by for a few minutes and cheer for UT.
"I really wish that I could stay," Hunley said, adding that it was hard to pull himself away to head for class.
The Volunteer, clad in his typical coonskin cap and wielding a giant UT flag, commented on UT's chances of winning the competition.
"We have a real shot. We just need people to vote for us," he said.
Voting closes Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. Anyone may cast a vote, but each voter is currently limited to one vote per day.
The voting website is http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/49037139/ns/today-kathie_lee_and_hoda/. The other finalists are Syracuse University, Ohio State University, University of South Florida, Creighton University and Brandeis University.
"We hope our fans and all of our alumni and our students and our faculty and staff vote," Cheek said. "And I hope they come back for a full show."