Amy Jones-Timoney

Let the Madness Begin

Published: Oct 18, 2013

 

UKNow sat down with former Men’s Basketball Coach Joe B. Hall, who introduced UK to Big Blue Madness, for a history lesson on one of UK’s favorite traditions.

 

 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 18, 2013) — Going into the 1982-83 basketball season, head men’s basketball Coach Joe B. Hall wanted to get the UK student body excited for his team. It had been a few years since the team had won a national championship – four seasons to be exact – and he wanted the students to connect with this team, their team.

 

Photo of Joe B. Hall
Joe B. Hall, men's basketball coach from 1972-1985, introduced Big Blue Nation to Big Blue Madness.

“It wasn't anything intelligent on my part,” Hall said. “It was simply to have a practice for the student body, kind of a humorous way to start the year's practice on the first allowable minute. The NCAA said you could start practice Oct. 15, so that meant at 12:01 a.m. you were legal to practice. The students like to have something to do at midnight that was legitimate, so we put notices in the [residence halls] and the classrooms that we were going to have an open practice for the students at midnight.”

 

The first Big Blue Madness, billed as “Midnight Special,” did not have all the glitz and glam that is now associated with UK’s first practice of the season.

 

“We had some little games set up for the students to participate, and so the night that we had our first Madness I think we drew about 8,500 students,” Hall said. “The word spread and it turned out to be so much fun and the students just absolutely loved it; I mean, anything students will do at midnight is fun. The day, the pressures of their classwork had worn off and it was just a great evening. It was stimulation for players, a way to kick off the season and the first practice with that kind of exhibition. It just proved to be really a lot of fun.”

 

So much fun that word quickly spread about UK’s midnight practice, and the following year fans, not just students, flocked to Memorial Coliseum to get a first glimpse at their Wildcats.

 

“I know the Committee of 101, a lot of their members and families came, and a lot of the faculty and staff brought their children, and people close to the players found out about it, and from then on, it became a regular thing that people look forward to and we drew bigger and bigger crowds,” Hall reflected.

 

In 1983, more than 10,000 fans filled Memorial Coliseum to see the eventual Final Four team featuring Sam Bowie, Melvin Turpin and Kenny “Sky” Walker. That was just the beginning of the tradition of capacity crowds filling venues to watch their Wildcats practice.

 

Photo of Big Blue Madness 1998
1998 Big Blue Madness

The fire marshal ordered the doors closed at 9:50 p.m. in 1986, leaving hundreds of fans outside while fans inside got their first look at “King Rex,” Rex Chapman. In 1989, fans were caught trying to sneak inside windows and any other opening they could find to get in Memorial Coliseum as Rick Pitino took over the reigns as head men’s basketball coach. In 1991, the doors closed after only 45 minutes of being open.

 

With more than 755 tents on campus for the 2013 Big Blue Madness ticket camp out, many fans believe that camping out for tickets is as old as the event itself. However, the tradition of camping out for Big Blue Madness tickets is not nearly as old as one might think. The first year UK saw fans camp out for Madness was in 1993. In 1994, a father and son pair camped for five days prior to Madness. However, Wildcat fan Wally Clark takes the record, camping for 38 days in 1996.

 

Photo of Wally Clark
Wally Clark camped out for 38 days for Madness tickets in 1996.

"It is becoming a tradition also to see who can be the first one in and get the better seats," Hall said. “It's not just to get in; it's to get the best seats. More than that, it is a support of Kentucky basketball and it is a measure of the people's fan support for the Wildcats. It's saying, 'Hey, this is really big. We're going to come early and get our tickets and be the first out there to camp out and make an effort to support the Cats.' That is a good thing."

 

Big Blue Madness, and events like it across the country, serves as a special part of the fan experience. For many fans, this is a rare opportunity to see the players in person in Rupp Arena, a move Big Blue Madness made in 2005 due to construction at Memorial Coliseum.

 

Photo of Madness 2005
In 2005, Big Blue Madness moved to Rupp Arena.

"It serves a nationwide purpose. It kicks off the basketball season all over the United States," Hall said. "Big Blue Madness, Midnight Madness, whatever you want to call it, whatever time you hold it, it's kind of like a celebration of the beginning of the season. Families with children can come and it indoctrinates those young people into a love for Kentucky basketball when normally, because of the price of tickets or the unavailability of tickets, they do not have the opportunity to come. They can get tickets for Big Blue Madness. So you get a lot of families, you get a lot of young kids that are very impressionable, and they develop their fan support for the Wildcats through that first meeting. And it's great in building fans at a young age."

 

Big Blue Madness is an event that is fun for fans of all ages, young and old, and this year promises to be the most interactive Madness yet! Fans attending the event Friday night are encouraged to download the FREE Wham City Lights app in the App Store or Android marketplace. During the event, video screens will prompt fans to open the app and participate in the crowd stunt.

 

Doors for Big Blue Madness open at 6 p.m. and the event will begin at 7:30 p.m.

 

For fans unable to make it to Rupp Arena, Big Blue Madness can be seen live on the UK IMG Sports Network. The event will be televised on a delayed basis on UK IMG Sports Network affiliates in Bowling Green (WBKO-FOX, 9 p.m. CT) and Evansville, Ind. (WTVW-TV, 12:30 a.m. CT).

 

Fox Sports South’s coverage of Big Blue Madness will be on a delayed basis, at 11 p.m. ET to the entire FS-South footprint.

 

UKathletics.com and ESPN3 will have a live stream of the event and ESPNU will have live segments from their whip-around "Midnight Madness" show from 9 p.m.-1 a.m.

 

To watch more excerpts from UKNow's interview with the legendary Joe B. Hall, click on the playlist below:

 

 

Information for this story has been gathered from UK Athletics media guide and Web archives as well as UK Athletics news articles. Special thanks to UK Athletics for video footage of past Big Blue Madness events.  For more information about Big Blue Madness, contact UK Athletics Media Relations.

 

bbm_story.jpg1998_midnight_madness.jpgwally_clark_midnight_madnes.jpgmbb_2005madness_47.jpg1836.jpg
September
 
 
 
 
1
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
LGBTQ* and Friends Employee Picnic
Thu
2
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Fri
3
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Sat
4
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Sun
5
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Labor Day - Academic Holiday
Mon
6
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: EXPRESSIONS
Tue
7
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: MEDITATION
UK Women's Club Volleyball - Open Gym
From The Streets to The Stage With Monti Washington
Wed
8
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: YOGA
#IAMACCEPTANCE Let's Talk Mental Health with Hakeem Rahim
Thu
9
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
2016 New Chinese Students Welcome Party
Accounting Internship & Career Fair
Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Suicide Prevention Training
Fri
10
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Sat
11
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Whipping In The Kitchen
Sun
12
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Mon
13
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: EXPRESSIONS
UKWC Welcome Coffee
Tue
14
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Last Day to Drop a Course Without Appearing on Transcript
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: MEDITATION
Greek Park Pictures
Wed
15
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: YOGA
Thu
16
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
A Day of Rising Strong
Fri
17
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Sat
18
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Sun
19
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Mon
20
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
UK Women's Forum Board Meeting
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn - Best Friends Approach to Dementia Care
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: EXPRESSIONS
Cuban Heritage Festival
Tue
21
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Last Day to Withdraw to Receive 50% Refund
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: MEDITATION
Horticulture Club Farm Market Sale
Wed
22
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: YOGA
TGIT with SAB
Thu
23
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Fri
24
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Sat
25
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Film Screening of "The Fly Room"
Sun
26
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Film Screening of "The Fly Room"
Let's Talk!
Empower: People of Color Support Group
Film Screening of "The Fly Room"
Mon
27
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
FIFA Tournament
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: EXPRESSIONS
UK Engineering and Computer Science Career Fair
Banned Books--A short history
Tue
28
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
FIFA Tournament
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: MEDITATION
Horticulture Club Farm Market Sale
Cats Got The Vote
Business Internship & Career Fair
Women In Technology Gala event for UK undergraduate women
NSE (National Student Exchange) Information Session
Wed
29
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
FIFA Tournament
Let's Talk!
Let's Talk!
Wildcat Wellness Workshop: YOGA
Yoga at Commonwealth Stadium
Thu
30
Louis Zoellar Bickett: Saving Myself
Let's Talk!
Indonesia Focus Conference
Indonesia Focus Conference
Craft Writing: Beer, the Digital, and Craft Culture
Fri
 

Tue, 09/27/2016

Repeats every 7 days until Wed Dec 14 2016 .
Wed, 09/28/2016

Repeats every week every Wednesday until Wed Oct 05 2016 .
Wed, 09/28/2016

Wed, 09/28/2016

Reset Page