- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Is it the college basketball preseason yet?
Why I am even asking this question? Because in 2013, for the first time ever, the NCAA's date before which teams cannot participate in full practice was moved two weeks up the calendar -- technically, it began Friday. Some teams celebrated their Midnight Madness events this weekend, but many more have chosen to wait. And so the big, all-encompassing Midnight Madness explosion we grew so fond of in the past has been replaced by a slow, excruciating trickle. If the rule change didn't make so much obvious sense, I would probably be a little sad.
The upside, of course, is that the new Midnight Madness landscape doesn't preclude America's college basketball coaches from participating in a tradition unlike any other: dressing up as a ridiculous cultural reference in the hopes of making college kids laugh.
On Saturday morning, at Pittsburgh's "Morning Madness" -- scheduled to precede the Pitt football tailgate -- coach Jamie Dixon kicked off the fun. And by "kicked off the fun," I mean he donned the garb of a person named "Uncle Si," from a reality television show about a colorful group of people who made tons of money selling duck calls. Yes, Dixon a character from "Duck Dynasty." He even did the accent and everything.
All told, according to Pittsburgh, more than 4,000 people showed up for the event, which, as you can see above, also included quirky introductions, slam dunks, trivia, and more slam dunks. All in all, it appears to have been a massive success. And Pitt has an ace up its sleeve when it comes to costumed coaches: Dixon "appeared and performed in a variety of commercials" as a kid in Southern California, and "is a card-carrying member of the Screen Actors Guild," according to a school release. "Uncle Si" appears to have been a method performance. Impressive stuff.
All of which is to say: Your move, Izzo.