Oct. 15, 2004
Hey baby, the season is finally here with the tip-off of Midnight Madness! There is so much excitement across America as the teams roll out the basketballs and start practice in preparation for the road to St. Louis and the Final Four.
Right now, everybody has a shot at the gold trophy. Everyone is unbeaten and believes they can have that super season. This will be a special one since there are so many legitimate contenders out there.
It's also special because so many talented players are coming back to the college ranks, guys like Lawrence Roberts of Mississippi State, Hakim Warrick at Syracuse and Ryan Gomes of Providence -- just to name a few who considered going early to the NBA.
Almost 35 years later, many schools are keeping up the Midnight Madness tradition.
I can remember when Midnight Madness first started. It was the legendary left-hander, former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell, who wanted to make his program the UCLA of the East. He wanted to get some publicity and start practice before everybody else to get that jump, that little edge. Almost 35 years later, many schools are keeping up the tradition of holding their first practice at 12:01 a.m. on the first day the NCAA allows practice in mid-October.
For schools like Kansas, Kentucky and Duke, it's always a major event. Other places have become creative -- Clemson is scheduled to have its Midnight Madness outdoors. Texas A&M has come up with Maroon Madness. Memphis will have a marching band leading the way to the new FedEx facility as its new home court.
Midnight Madness gives fans a chance to see some of the new faces in college basketball. It creates a positive atmosphere across so many campuses in America, something special for the fans to get excited about. It also gives coaches at new schools an opportunity to meet the fans and show them the importance of supporting their program.
All I know is that college basketball is back, baby! I can't wait for the first tip-off of the regular season. It's less than a month away, and I'm so excited -- it will be awesome, baby with a capital A!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.