Tonight beginning at 9 ET, ESPNU will air four hours of Midnight Madness events from nine schools around the country. Front Row caught up with several of ESPN’s college basketball analysts who were coaches at Division I schools for their perspectives on Midnight Madness.
Bruce Pearl, former head coach at Tennessee, UW-Milwaukee:
Midnight Madness was a celebration on our campus – with our student body and fans – that college basketball was back. I will never forget putting on the sumo wrestling outfit [at Tennessee] and body slamming a worthy opponent from the student body.
Seth Greenberg, former head coach at Virginia Tech, South Florida and Long Beach State:
Midnight Madness is a celebration of the start of the basketball season. In many ways, it’s a public service announcement for the campus community.
One year at Virginia Tech, I came out inside an inflatable Hokie Bird. When the introductions were made and I was introduced, I was just bouncing around chest bumping everyone in the costume. No one had a clue I was [really] inside. Finally, I disconnected the power and popped out.
Paul Biancardi, ESPN’s national basketball recruiting director, former Wright State head coach:
Over my 20 years in coaching college basketball, I got to witness the evolution of Midnight Madness. I always felt the importance of Midnight Madness was to create hope and excitement for the students, fans, alumni, and the team. It is a great opportunity for the die-hard fans who attend the event to bond with our team.
There is no time during the season to get this type of intimacy between fans, coaches and players. It also serves as a wonderful recruiting tool to show a recruit and his family the passion behind your program. [There are] many benefits to this celebration to start the season as long as no one gets injured.
Jimmy Dykes, former assistant coach at six schools:
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.
Details on tonight’s coverage plans on ESPNU and ESPN3: