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A history of Big Blue Madness in the Calipari era

Kentucky does it better than anyone.

UK Athletics

Big Blue Madness is a staple for University of Kentucky Basketball. It signifies the kickoff to basketball season, and it usually marks the first time we’re introduced to the players (except during years the team has an overseas trip, like this year).

Kentucky has always done a tremendous job putting together Big Blue Madness, from Pitino, to Tubby, and to Billy G’s grand curtain drop debut, Kentucky has always been the best at Midnight Madness.

But when John Calipari stepped foot on campus, Big Blue Madness was ramped up to 11, bringing out all the stars and highly-touted recruits, the likes of which Kentucky had never experienced.

So, let’s take a trip down memory lane and reminisce on the nine years of Calipari Big Blue Madness, as Coach Cal is hitting his 10th one in just a few short days.


Kentucky’s first madness under Cal was full of hype. New coach, new players, new system, everything was full of pure hype. Bringing in what was Kentucky’s best recruiting class in the history of the school, Boogie Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, and John Wall looked like superstars in their Wildcat debut.

Well, Boogie just looked super intimidating, actually. And 2009 spawned the most famous dance in college basketball history; The John Wall dance. Oh, and let’s not forget that 2009 kicked off the Kentucky-Drake love connection.

And let’s also not forget the infamous Coach Cal speech.


Coming off the best season in what felt like forever, expectations were high for year two

under Coach Cal, and that all got set into motion at the 2010 edition of Big Blue Madness. Featuring a new crop of highly-touted players like Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb, and Terrence Jones, some unknown recruit from Istanbul, Turkey by the name of Enes Kanter stole the show with his Undertaker entrance. It is still the best entrance at a Big Blue Madness ever.



The 2011 edition was sort of an unknown going into it. Kentucky had the best recruiting class in the country, but fans didn’t know what to expect from the incoming group of players.

Well, this madness featured Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and that’s all you need to know. After the 2011 Big Blue Madness, it was national championship or bust. I think you all know what happened later that season.


Coming off a national title in the previous season, expectations were still high, as they always are in the bluegrass. Kentucky came in with the number one overall recruiting class again landing Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, and Willie Cauley-Stein, the class was highlighted one of the most hyped recruits in recent memory: Nerlens Noel.

While the season didn’t turn out to be one that we would like to remember, it did give us Archie Goodwin and Nerlens Noel’s dances, as well as the first installment of the floor graphics, and for that we are thankful.


Oh, how the 2013 edition of Big Blue Madness was so hyped up. Kentucky had just landed the best recruiting class in the history of college basketball, landing 5 top-10 players, highlighted by Julius Randle, the #3 overall player.

Kentucky had installed a giant video board above the court, a sign for things to come in the future, and two long ramps extending to almost half-court. The best part about this madness was by far the light-up sweatsuits. Seriously, those things are insane.

And the Harrison twins’ entrance still gets me amped up when I watch it.


Once again, Big Blue Madness was insanely hyped up for the 2014-15 season. Kentucky was fielding their best team in school history and they brought in the number one recruiting class yet again, highlighted by Karl Towns.

But that’s not the reason this madness is remembered. Drake came out and addressed the crowd before introducing Coach Cal, further cementing Drake’s place in UK fandom lore. To add on to it, Drake warmed up with team, giving us the hilarious video of Drizzy air-balling a three.

Glad you’re on our side, Drake.


Losing a plethora of talent from the previous season, Kentucky’s expectations were not as high as previous years, but let’s be real, our expectations were still pretty high. Landing talent such as Jamal Murray, Skal Labissiere, and Isaiah Briscoe and keeping Tyler Ulis for a second season, the makings were there for a great season.

Once again, Kentucky brought out the projected floor for the players’ entrance and Drake made another appearance, although a pre-recorded introduction on the projected floor. Still cool anyway.


Bringing in guys like De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, and Bam Adebayo, this madness was actually really cool. Setting up what resembled a WWE stage with a titantron and ramp, the 2016 Wildcats squad was introduced by Michael Buffer. That’s honestly all I need to say to tell you how cool it was.


And finally, we make our way to last season’s Big Blue Madness. And hey, look, our friend Drake makes another appearance at madness for Kentucky, and increasing sales of ‘Kentucky Dad’ sweatshirts statewide. While not as elegant and over-the-top like previous years’ madness, it never gets tired of seeing everyone having fun and Drake coming to Lexington.

With Big Blue Madness 2018 right around the corner, what can we expect from Kentucky? How over-the-top will this one be? Will Drake show up to this one again after not showing up for Memphis’? (Why would anyone think he would show up there?)

Regardless of what happens, you can bet that BBM 2018 will one for the books, especially with such a great team waiting to get on that court.