Hard to believe what was happening on the field during pre-game warm ups Saturday. UK players on the Louisville side of the 50-yard line, a place they had no business being, jawing at University of Louisville players, attempting to antagonize them.
A 13-point underdog also stomping on the Cardinal logo, seeking to shift the focus from football to the lowest common denominator, an approach reeking of desperation.
Suddenly, UofL and UK players are mixing it up around UofL’s 40-yard line. A video shows UK’s Jeff Badet, a redshirt receiver from Orlando, jamming UofL’s James Quick in the chest with his hand, later pushing UofL Coach Bobby Petrino from behind.
The melee breaks up briefly, the coaches seemingly getting things under control. But no, it breaks out again near the Kentucky sideline. The video showing Petrino jaw to jaw with a UK assistant, a photo showing Petrino tugging at the assistant’s jacket. Not surprising, given the lack of control by the officials.
After the fracas finally subsides, numerous UK players rush to the south end of the field, raising their hands with their middle fingers extended toward UofL fans and students. Still another display of lack of discipline, further blemishing the image of the university the UK players represent.
Nothing yet from the local sports media, which made so much of a single UofL player “throwing the bird” at UK fans in Lexington a few years ago. So many photographers on the sidelines, so few photos of this particular segment.
The Kentucky coaching staff clearly wanted its players to come into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium with an attitude, seemingly confirmed by Bud DuPree, a senior defensive end. “Anytime you’re in a great atmosphere, you need an edge,” he said after the game. “We came out before the game and got an edge. It was great. It just couldn’t hold up.”
Whether UK got an “edge” from the pre-game antics is debatable. Not unusual for an underdog, driven by adrenalin, to grab an early lead in a rivalry game. Probably wasted a lot of energy with those pre-game antics.
Whatever the motivation, UK lost more than another football game.