Big Blue Madness’ State of the Union



The State of the Union address will now be given in October in the Bluegrass.

Big Blue Madness signals the start of basketball season is merely weeks away. For UK men’s basketball head coach John Calipari, it’s an opportunity to address the constituents of the Big Blue Nation, and share his thoughts, reflections, goals and to propagate his wildly successful UK brand of basketball.

Instead of talking fiscal budgets and unemployment like the actual State of the Union, Calipari champions the promised land of collegiate basketball, a land where he hopes the nets are cut down by a group of talented freshman.

Granted, the content of what is being discussed is totally different, but the result is intended to be the same.

Kentuckians want confirmation that the leader of their institution is committed to the cause and has a winning gameplan. After all, UK basketball means just a little something to the people of this state.

How else could you explain tickets for Big Blue Madness being distrubuted in 60 minutes? Or the landscape of tents pitched outside Memorial Coliseum days prior to tickets becoming available?

Or why people will neglect their jobs, school work, pets, friends and family for a chance to acquire tickets for a scrimmage?

When the smoke from the fireworks and the psychedelic laser show ended last year, and returning fan favorites such as Patrick Patterson had high-fived some fans, and after a certain freshman showcased a certain dance that would become rather popular, Calipari made his entrance to a standing ovation, much like the president does when he enters the House of Representatives.

Unlike the president, however, Calipari doesn’t hear a chorus of jeers from one side of Rupp Arena unhappy with his policies. Instead, the attendees and those watching on TV will lend him their ears.

Calipari assured fans last year during his inaugural State of the Union address that he was the right man for arguably the most pressure-packed job in the Commonwealth, after he outlined his vision for UK becoming the “gold standard” in college basketball.

Calipari emphasized that he believed in talent over experience when confronting the criticism that his heralded freshman class’ youth would get the better of them. He noted that winning was the buzzword.

It was this rah-rah attitude, born at Big Blue Madness during Calipari’s address, that prepared the Big Blue Nation for a resurgent season and re-energized an entire state.

There’s no reason to think Calipari won’t be able to figure out something stirring to say before he takes to the podium. Sure, basketball will be played on Friday night, but this hoops event isn’t really about basketball at all, as counter-intuitive as that may seem.

This year, like every year in the foreseeable future, Big Blue Madness will be an introduction to a new crop of players who will be expected to carry on the legacy of winning at UK. And Calipari will, once again, share his master plan as to how to solve the problem of a lack of a championship banners in the rafters since 1998.

Only one year of the Calipari era is in the books, but he’s 1-for-1 in making good on the promises he makes during his State of the Union address.