We're now sitting squarely amid the time of year with programs conduct their Midnight Madness festivities, including several that take place tonight.
Some programs actually have abandoned the idea, while others in recent years have secured illustrious entertainers, while still others aim to focus on shenanigans intended to appeal to the student population. Naturally, these periods of pique activity tend to correlate with top targets making their official visits to those programs.
That said, then, how much of an impact do you think these Midnight Madness events have on recruits?
Brian Snow: I mean the benefit to these Midnight Madness deals at places like Kansas, Kentucky, Arizona and Indiana are great. It gives a game like atmosphere without the risk of a loss and ugliness from fans. That said, at virtually every other school where it isn't as much of an event with a half empty arena, I think it means very little.
One of the true benefits of this stuff is it simply takes time out of the day. There is only so much you can show a kid on an official visit. A campus tour doesn't take too much time, they don't want to talk to academic people for too long, and then you have time to kill over the course of a 48-hour visit. These events kill time, keep the recruit at least moderately entertained and give a good atmosphere, so there is some benefit for the right programs, but for most programs it isn't a big deal.
Josh Gershon: It definitely helps the programs who put on big events and it's irrelevant for everyone else. That said, the programs who put on big events also tend to be elite schools that have packed crowds for their home games, are competing for titles and have a long list of other reasons to attend their schools other than Midnight Madness, so in reality it's a shot in the arm but nothing much more significant than that.
Evan Daniels: I always say this, but I think it's true ... Anytime you can get a player to campus it's a big deal and that applies here. The Midnight Madness festivities at some schools are bigger than others.
When recruits opt to go to Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky for their Midnight Madness festivities, they are doing it intentionally. They want to see what it's all about. They want to see the spectacle, the show and the atmosphere.How big of an impact it has depends on the kid and his recruiting situation. I think it varies kid to kid, but I do think these types of atmospheres can factor into a kid's decision. But keep in mind that there aren't that many schools that do them.
Rob Harrington: I think the actual entertainment aspect of the events is less significant in a direct sense, but what makes them potentially useful is the social dynamic they facilitate.
Schools point to that weekend as a time for major official visits, and with something specific (other than a football game) to anchor the weekend, the recruit is more likely to accept the invitation. Additionally, if multiple players visit on the same weekend they may form or reinforce a friendship bond that could grease the wheels, in a sense, in terms of making a school more comfortable and appealing.
While much of the package deal talk we hear about doesn't develop, there's clearly something to be said for recruit camaraderie. The Madness events bring recruits together in a boisterous environment — and the student body frequently will stay on campus that weekend, thus maintaining the energy — and as such I believe they can be provide a small edge in a recruitment.
Evan Daniels, Brian Snow, Josh Gershon and Rob Harrington contributed to this report