Louisville vs. Kentucky – The great rivalry

Sports rivalries are nothing new and they’re certainly not unique to Kentucky universities. In fact, for some people, sports rivalries are part of the fun of the world of athletics in the first place. However, for the sports fans mired in the Kentucky and Louisville rivalry, things get so ugly that joy gets lost along the way.

rivalryThe rivalry between the Cardinals and the Wildcats isn’t just one of the biggest rivalries in the world of men’s college basketball. It’s one of the biggest rivalries in the entire sporting world. UofL vs. UK inspires lots of heated discussion and conflict even in the best of times.

People who live outside of Kentucky and who don’t really follow the world of sports might find the rivalry baffling. All fandom knowledge is like that to a certain extent. Some people would love to learn how stuff works at the Royal Vegas casino. Other people aren’t even aware of the Royal Vegas casino and would barely even be able to connect to the world of online gambling even if someone told them about the Royal Vegas casino in detail. However, all fandom discussions tend to be interesting from a broader societal perspective, and the Louisville vs. Kentucky rivalry is no exception.

The interest in college sports varies from state to state. However, it’s particular potent in Kentucky, which has no pro-affiliated sports teams. It’s the perfect environment for the Louisville vs. Kentucky rivalry to thrive. If these two colleges were located further apart from one another, given the size of the state of Kentucky, the rivalry might not be as bad.

However, many local individuals are going to run into each other all the time in the wake of conflicts associated with both sports teams. Local individuals feel pressured to swear strong allegiance to their most nearby university, but they’re constantly in contact with their rivals in a way that just wouldn’t happen with a lot of other pairs of competing sports teams.

The fact that both Louisville fans and Kentucky fans are about equally matched in their team loyalty and passion for their respective fandoms tends to make the rivalry even more intense. Even then, the rivalry might not be as bad if one of the teams were vastly less successful than its rival. However, almost any objective observer outside of Kentucky would probably say that the Cardinals and the Wildcats were really both teams that had a great track record.

When there’s a huge power differential between two teams, the rivalry takes on a very different character. However, this really isn’t the case with the Cardinals and the Wildcats. It’s often the proverbial close games in any activity that are the most exciting, and they tend to involve the fiercest competition. The competition between the Cardinals and the Wildcats and their dearest fans never ends.

Louisville doesn’t need Kentucky on football schedule

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.

Tom Jurich doesn't want to end the football series.
Tom Jurich

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.

How UofL fans can cope after Kentucky wins another NCAA

The University of Kentucky is going to win its ninth NCAA basketball tournament title. It’s inevitable.

Pains me to say that, or to see it happen. I don’t plan to watch the game, knowing how easy it was for the University of Louisville to dispose of UConn in three games this past season. The last thing I want to see is UK claiming another title.

Surprising that Billy Donovan, one of Rick Pitino’s closest friends, didn’t learn the lessons after seeing how dominant UofL was in those games. Donovan still has a few lessons to learn from his mentor. Or is it possible that UConn is on one of the same kind of tournament runs as Kentucky is enjoying? Not likely.

UK’s run shouldn’t be all that surprising, not when a team consisting of first round NBA draft picks finally began to gel after 35 games. They’re in the national spotlight, their egos are being stroked, they’re highly motivated, and they’re playing with high levels of adrenaline. When Monday night’s game is over, they will have played together in 40 games.

So how do we deal with UK associates after they claim still another championship?

The same way we always have, recognize how maniacal they are about UK. They’re going to wave their flags, wear their caps and T-shirts. and talk about basketball year round. It enables them to forget about their irrelevance in football, gives them a claim to fame.

If it’s possible for you, congratulate them and change the subject as soon as possible. They’re defensive about their UK allegiance, love to argue about it, and put down other schools. They will never recognize or respect your team, it’s not in their nature.

Meanwhile, pull for the University of Louisville to win a fourth national championship in the near future. UK fans are still reeling from UofL’s success last season. They want to “keep it in the state” but that doesn’t include Louisville. Another UofL championship is their worst fear.

Plot in reverse as Louisville begins NCAA journey in Lexington

The bitter rivalry between the University of Louisville and Kentucky has been elevated several notches because of UofL’s remarkable success and UK’s collapse in basketball this season. Karma depends on where one’s loyalty lies.

Louisville performed as expected, winding up as the No. 2 team in the Associated Press poll while being awarded the No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament. Kentucky, predicted as high as No. 3 before the season began, failed to win the SEC Conference, was defeated in the first games of the conference tournament and the National Invitation Tournament, and was not among the nation’s top 25 as the season ended.

As for the trip to Lexington, get in, get out, with as little interaction between games with the natives as possible.

UofL fans couldn’t be happier about the turn of events. UK fans couldn’t be more angry or deflated. In the minds of the intensely-loyal fan bases, the success or failure of the other program is almost equally important as their own. Sad but true, bringing out the worst in individuals, even between those who consider themselves friends of people who follow the other program.

Integral to the jubilation of UK fans a year ago was that their journey to an eighth national championship began in Louisville with two first-round victories at the KFC Yum! Center. The ability to pack UofL’s home court making it much more satisfying for blue-clad fans. They followed that up by beating UofL in the Final Four.

In one of those amazing twists of fate, Rick Pitino’s team will begin its quest for a third national championship Thursday at Rupp Arena. UofL fans don’t relish the idea of playing in Lexington, recognizing the hostility that exists toward fans of the Louisville school. Most would rather not be there. A year ago, remember, UK students were out in the streets, setting cars on fire after defeating UofL two days before the national championship game.

Lexington is a short drive so many dedicated so concerned Cards’ fans will take their chances. Some won’t go because the games are there. For all of those who do, this will be a taking-care-of-business trip, not your typical road game. There won’t be any welcoming committees or red carpets in Lexington because UofL fans won’t be there long, spending as little money as possible.

Enjoy the plot lines and trust that the unfolding script has the ultimate ending, a happy ending that further crushes UK fans and pushes the rivalry to even higher levels. As for the trip to Lexington, get in, get out, with as little interaction between games with the natives as possible.

Louisville-Kentucky Rivalry At Boiling Point

by Paul Sykes

Has the Louisville-Kentucky rivalry spiraled out of control, reaching a dangerous point where aggression, mayhem and violence have replaced competition, pride and support?

Saturday was ugly. Early on, emotions were out of control, with potentially disastrous effects for anyone in the immediate vicinity, either in person at Rupp or at a publicly televised event.

Having attended over 30 different Louisville vs. Kentucky events over the years, I’ve never seen so much hatred and contempt. Even Rick Pitino seems to be questioning the wisdom of continuing the basketball series.

Time to turn it down a notch, and that includes me. I had feelings of hatred, contempt and anger toward the home crowd. I reflect on this and have to ask myself…how did it get so out of control?

This is just athletics. These are students. We are neighbors and fellow citizens. There are more important and critical events unfolding in our lives, our society and our world. Call it a belated New Year’s resolution, but I pledge to be much more tolerant of the beliefs, support and loyalties of UK fans. Objectivity, rational thought and less criticism will be my guidelines.

One would hope that the fan bases of both schools, as well as the athletes, will do the same. There are many accomplishments for which both universities can be proud. It’s time to stop letting sporting events shape our attitudes.