My best friend, Nina, and I watch the night-owl friendly 10 AM hour of the “Today” show every single morning without fail, one might say “religiously,” in fact. As avid fans, we had been enthusiastically participating in a Twitter-based “Back to College” competition to get “Today” show co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb to broadcast live from the Syracuse campus. Yet after following the #klgandhodaU hash tag to weigh the competition, I had little hope. Bigger schools like Ole Miss and Auburn seemed to be dominating the twittersphere.
So imagine my surprise last Sunday afternoon when I learned that Syracuse was indeed in the running. It all started when the doorbell of our sorority house rang. We were expecting some visiting alums from Oklahoma and as I had just changed into my Sunday best (gym shorts and a loose fitting tank) I insisted that Nina greet them. Seconds later, when she called over to me “the Today show is here,” I was quite positive she was pulling some silly prank.
But sure enough standing outside our front door was Sara Haines, “Today” show correspondent, along with Susan, a “Today” producer. It took us a while to invite them inside; we were pretty star-struck to say the least. If you are at all familiar with the Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes where the prize patrol comes to the front door with balloons and a giant check (video reference here) – well, this was sort of like that. Sara and Susan had been traveling door to door explaining to students that Syracuse was one of the top six finalists in the “Back to College” competition and “Today” would be doing a live hit from the quad the following morning (insert 12 exclamation points here).
Ironically, earlier that day I was reading about J. Fred Muggs, the former chimpanzee mascot of NBC’s “Today”. I was not just mindlessly researching celebrity apes (although that is totally something I would do) but was preparing for my course, Television in the Network Era. It was like someone had summoned the spirits of Pat Weaver and Dave Garroway and somehow my homework was coming alive. I would happily give my right arm to work for the “Today” show (any takers?) so the whole series of events on what was just another lazy Sunday seemed totally unreal.
Sara said to come to the quad the next morning around 9. We got there at around 8, colorful posters in tow. As our classmates began to arrive and the enthusiasm built the scent of Orange pride was in the air. Nina and I were thrilled to claim 30 seconds of fame on our most favorite television show when our most favorite person ever, Sara Haines, interviewed us. It was not your typical Monday morning but we’re hoping to make it a regular thing (look for us on “The View” sometime in the near future).
After Syracuse, Sara and the “Today” team visited the other five finalists and fans were directed to the website in order to cast their vote for the winning school. Yesterday morning, Kathie Lee and Hoda announced that the University of Tennessee came out on top. On October 1, Kathie Lee and Hoda will be broadcasting live from Knoxville. Whomp whomp.
I hereby reluctantly concede defeat to the University of Tennessee. At the very least, Kathie Lee and Hoda will be donning orange on October 1st and regardless of whatever bitterness we may harbor towards the Vols, Nina and I will be watching.