Behind The Scenes

Analyst Dykes renews deal with ESPN; ESPNU airs Midnight Madness

Jimmy Dykes (11) played in the 1980s for the University of Arkansas. (Credit: University of Arkansas)

College basketball analyst Jimmy Dykes recently signed a multi-year contract extension with ESPN. Dykes joined ESPN in 1995 and is now a college basketball staple within the more than 1,600 men’s and women’s games ESPN will air this season alone.

That coverage — and his extensive travel schedule — both tip-off Friday, Oct. 12 when ESPNU visits 13 programs in whip-around coverage of Midnight Madness events. Dykes will be reporting live from Kentucky — the defending NCAA Division I men’s champion — and a school he briefly called home as an assistant coach. Front Row caught up with Jimmy before his trip to discuss what’s left on his ESPN bucket list after 17 years and how his passion for basketball still has the ability to knock him off his feet — and onto his back — at times.

ESPN’s Jimmy Dykes

Do you have any Midnight Madness memories from your time as a player or a coach?
In my first year as an assistant coach at the University of Kentucky, I remember walking out onto the court for the first time during Midnight Madness and feeling overwhelmed at what that scene looked like. It was my first real introduction to what Kentucky basketball was all about.

You’ve been a college basketball analyst for ESPN for 17 years. What are some of your favorite moments?
The first time I called games at some of the great basketball venues across the nation are still some of my most cherished memories working for ESPN. Places like Allen Fieldhouse, Rupp Arena, Cameron Indoor, the Dean Smith Center and Madison Square Garden top that list.

One of my most memorable moments occurred last season when Alabama guard Levi Randolph absolutely ran right over me as I was broadcasting the game with Brad Nessler. There’s no feeling like being on national TV, flat on your back, looking up at the ceiling of Bud Walton Arena and thinking to yourself…”What in the world just happened and what do I do now?” That’s probably the only time Jimmy Dykes was “trending” on Twitter!

Is there one event you look forward to covering year after year?
It’s hard to beat Championship Week and covering conference tournaments with so much at stake. The SEC Tournament is now something I look forward to every March. I’ll also be heading back to the Maui Invitational for the fifth straight year in November and there’s no better way to kick off my season than that.

What questions are you hoping to have answered during Friday’s Midnight Madness events?
I’m anxious to see how some of the elite freshman handle the moment and carry themselves. Nerlens Noel at Kentucky, Isaiah Austin at Baylor, Yogi Ferrell at Indiana, Marcus Paige at North Carolina and Rodney Purvis at NC State are just a few of the potential impact freshman that we will get to see during our coverage of Midnight Madness this year.

There’s always intrigue about the new guys, and that will be our first snapshot of what is to come.

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