Courier-Journal columnist Tim Sullivan writes in his latest column that a noisy segment of the University of Kentucky fan base would prefer that UK stop playing Louisville in football altogether. I’m inclined to agree with them but for different reasons.
They’re tired of losing to Louisville and want to get out while UK still owns an edge in the all-time series. The Wildcats have a tough enough schedule with Auburn, Tennessee, Georgia and other SEC teams every year without playing a strong in-state rival.
There’s talk that UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart has been discussing a future series with Cincinnati, which would give Kentucky more exposure in talent-rich Ohio. If they think UC is going to be a pushover, they haven’t paying attention to the Bearcats’ program in recent years. For the sake of Cincinnati, stuck outside the Big Five conferences, I hope the series is finalized.
As for UofL, the time for the Cardinals needing to play Kentucky has long since passed. Entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference guarantees that UofL will have a respectable schedule every year on out, with teams like Florida State, Clemson and the occasional game against Notre Dame.
A UofL win over Kentucky has never meant much to the outside world. Having Wildcats on the docket does not enhance the Cardinals’ strength of schedule. A loss to the Wildcats in a rivalry game, where emotion often prevails, could be devastating, especially if the game is the last one in the season.
For some reason Tom Jurich still insists that he wants to keep playing Kentucky every season. Could it be that Tom takes some satisfaction in continuing the series in part because UK wants out of it? He knows the game will always be the game of the season for many Wildcat fans, the opponent they hate the most, the team they most would like to beat. That makes it difficult for Barnhart to escape the series gracefully.
I’ve personally never enjoyed sitting a couple seats away from UK fans on the same row at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium or, heaven forbid, having them seated in the row behind me. While we may have good relationships with them on other days, that all changes on game day. At best, relationships between serious UofL and UK fan are strained when it comes to sports.
If Kentucky doesn’t want to play Louisville, and UofL doesn’t need UK any more, let them go their way, and we’ll go ours.