The hallmark of ESPN’s “College GameDay” is the bevy of handmade – and usually quite clever – signs that fans hold in the backdrop as the hosts discuss the big college basketball games of the day.
On Saturday morning, some seven hours before the No. 2-ranked University of Virginia men’s basketball team was set to tip off against Virginia Tech, thousands of UVA diehards gathered at John Paul Jones Arena as the popular pre-game show returned to Charlottesville for the third time in the last four years.
Alumnus Chris Long made an appearance, fresh off his Super Bowl win with the Eagles. And an already electric atmosphere went supernova when first-year student Angus Binnie swished a half-court shot on his third attempt to win $18,000, becoming the third straight UVA student to do so.
As for the signs – they did not disappoint.
There were signs paying homage to Virginia coach Tony Bennett in extremely creative ways. Signs hyping up Cavalier players as if they were superheroes. Signs playing up UVA’s academic virtues.
Of course, there were signs poking a little fun at Virginia Tech. And then there were the signs not suitable to describe in this space.
But at the heart of every sign was one common denominator: a passion for all things UVA.
Here are a few that stood out:
The sign: “LeBron wishes he had this Cavaliers roster.”
The context: On Thursday, the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, in an effort to snap out of a long losing funk, traded away nearly half of its roster (though former UVA star London Perrantes remains).
The sign: “To InfiNITy…?”
The context: Using the popular tagline from Buzz Lightyear’s character in the movie “Toy Story,” this fan has some fun with the fact that Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams’ team could be headed to the NIT, not the NCAA Tournament.
The sign: “We want Bama.”
The context: Similar to the national champion Alabama football team, the Virginia basketball team has established itself as one of the top programs in the country and can compete with the big boys, albeit it in a different sport.
The sign: “Tech likes the new Snapchat update.”
The context: The social media application’s recent update has been disliked by many.
The sign: “I love watching paint dry.”
The context: Over the years, UVA’s pace and defensive-oriented style of play has been disparaged by some misinformed critics. They are wrong.
The sign: “The Hunter Games, Catching Fire.”
The context: The play on “The Hunger Games” movie is referencing the fact that Virginia redshirt freshman De’Andre Hunter has come into his own this season and is one of the reasons UVA has shocked the college basketball world with its prodigious rise in the rankings.
The signs: “UVA #2? Fake News!” and “Cash us at #1, How Bow Dah.”
The context: Rapper and social media personality Bhad Bhabie became known for the viral video meme and catch phrase "cash me outside" after appearing on the Dr. Phil Show.
The sign: “Pack-D.”
The context: UVA’s famed “Pack-Line” defense, which has put the clamps on opponents for much of the season, travels well.