Why Doesn’t Ohio State Have A Midnight Madness?
Last Friday was the first official day of practice for NCAA men’s basketball teams. Many schools across the country turn this occasion into a glorified pep-rally for the basketball team, with guest speakers, dunk contests and general spectacle to ring in the new season of basketball. My question is simple – why doesn’t Ohio State do this?
OSU has had a highly ranked team all of my four years here and is coming off a Final 4 run last year. Student interest is at an all-time high, with tickets selling out last year in mere minutes and people actually camping out overnight for big games – something that is commonplace at powerhouses like Duke but unheard of at a football school like Ohio State. Why not take advantage of this momentum and start a tradition that students would go crazy for?
I understand some coaches prefer to maintain an all-business attitude and stick to regular practice on the first day of the season. But these are college kids! They should get the chance to have some fun and show off in front of their adoring fans.
Midnight Madness is also an opportunity to reach out to the student body and make them feel a connection with the team. Thad Matta and his team have done a great job of this in recent years. In 2010, there was a meet and greet with players and students to kick off the season, and last year the coaches brought food to students camping out in line for games.
Basketball will probably never reach football’s popularity on this campus, but in the past few seasons, there has been an incredible surge in student interest. Freshman year I could show up four hours before tip-off and get front row seats; if you wanted those seats last year, you were already too late if you arrived the day of the game.
An event like Midnight Madness would not only preserve the increased passion for basketball amongst OSU students, but as Jeff Borzelo notes, it is also a great opportunity to entertain potential recruits. Imagine a recruiting trip that includes Midnight Madness on Friday and then an OSU football game on Saturday. I would be signed before I left campus!
Here’s a little taste of what an OSU Midnight Madness event could look like: OSU alum and college basketball commentator Clark Kellog as emcee, Evan Turner and Michael Redd coming back to say a few words to the crowd, DeShaun Thomas jacking up shots in a three point contest, and finish it off with Sam Thompson putting his 47 inch vertical on display in a dunk contest. The team is introduced, Thad Matta thanks the students for being great fans, and everyone goes home happy.
This is two hours on a Friday night that could make a huge difference for Ohio State basketball going forward. Let’s start the movement.