It’s ESPN time again. Are you ready for the ride of your life? It’s been too long. The last time ESPN was on campus was in 1997 and most of you had not even taken the SAT yet. Prior to your UCSB days, the Thunderdome was still a place in an old Mel Gibson flick and Gaucho sounded like another Taco Bell burrito. Well, now that you are at UCSB, you got over 1200 on the SAT (I know this because I read many of your damn essays when I worked for the Admissions Office), you have heard about the Thunderdome, you are a Gaucho and ESPN is on campus this week showing your school’s game on national TV!

Many of you have not yet experienced what could be the greatest experience here at UCSB! There is nothing like a packed game on national TV at the T-dome! Two thousand-plus screaming fans all in yellow shirts, making UCSB feel like Cameron Court West Coast. Even DP is overrated compared to what goes in the T-dome when it’s packed. Some of you came to the USC game during Fall Quarter and were shocked at how rowdy our crowd gets. Even the ‘SC coach said he felt lucky to get out of here with a win with that crowd. Last year we played Stanford at home and their coach, too, mentioned that it was one of the best crowds he has seen on the West Coast.

Well this is your time. Many of us Alums who live in the area still make it to the games and still cheer and help make the T-dome at least a bit like what it used to be. We used to camp out for tickets to see JR Rider and Larry Johnson when UCSB played UNLV on ESPN year after year. Man, the T-dome was the craziest and wildest place in the world.

This Thursday join the rest of us to cheer, yell, chant, sing and basically harass LBSU off the court. You might have seen other college games on TV; now it’s your school – UCSB – which will be on ESPN, and it can have one of the wildest arenas in the nation. But it’s not wild when you’re in your dorm room. So this challenge goes out to all of you at UCSB today. Paint your faces, get crazy and come cheer the Gauchos to victory. You will have the time of your life and you will ask when the next home game is, because you will be hooked on UCSB hoops at the T-dome.

By the way, in previous years ESPN took us off the air due to the dumb antics of some fans who did not care about our team or school. ESPN has given us two games this year as a test. If we are loud and fun, they will reward our team with even more TV games. In 1993, for example, UCSB hosted four, yes four ESPN games at home.

This year the UCSB men’s basketball team starts three freshmen, yes, three freshmen! That’s the first time in school history that this has happened. So my hat goes off to this year’s freshmen players. If you are a freshman, then come and cheer your classmates. By the time they are seniors the old Gaucho days could be back. Camping for tickets, ESPN games every other week and NCAA tourney time.

This is your time UCSB; do you have what it takes? Are you up to the challenge of being wild yet smart fans? Remember no sitting down, and be ready to scream … the Phantom will be there too. Ooh, you are in for a treat.

Reza Garajedaghi is a UCSB Alum and Super Fan.