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.
Feels good waking up in the morning, knowing the University of Louisville is going to the Atlantic Coast Conference. A massive load lifted from the many concerns that life throws one’s way.
“Louisville doesn’t have to care about the risk of reverse athletics gentrification anymore. It’s movin’ on up to the east side. With a boost to both athletics and the school’s academic reputation, the Cardinals turned one of the most precarious situations in this game of musical chairs into one of its biggest wins,” as a Sports Illustrated writer put it.
The national perception of UofL in both athletics and academics will take take giant strides forward as the university becomes an integral part of the ACC. The invitation came largely as a result of Tom Jurich’s recognition of football as the sport that drives college athletics and his insistance on quality and competitiveness in all sports. President Jim Ramsey’s “upward trajectory” in academics was important while not a deciding factor.
Other than athletic advantages, UofL will benefit from the ACC International Academic Collaborative, which emphasizes international and global affairs, especially study and research abroad. Others include Ph.D. student exchanges, roundtables of chief technology officers, conference calls among chief procurement officers, and annual conferences for undergraduate research projects. Being a part of such consortiums can only benefit UofL when it comes to assigning federal research grants.
Based on the reaction on fan message boards and radio talk shows, some University of Kentucky fans aren’t sure what to make of UofL being invited to the ACC. Many obviously think their long-time dominance in the state is somehow threatened and, for now at least, are unable to come to grips with UofL’s elevated stature. How many UK fans have congratulated you for UofL’s entry into the ACC? Fans being fans, they may never be able to publicly acknowledge that UofL is a major player. By denying it, they are, in effect, confirming their own fears and inadequacies.
Tom Jurich’s football scheduling challenges just got much lighter, with UofL playing teams like Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina State, Wake Forest, Syracuse and Boston College, the other teams in the ACC’s Coast Division every season, along with Virginia, which was Maryland’s inter-division rival. Atlantic Division members Miami, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh and Duke will be there in other years.
ACC bowl tie-ins include the Orange Bowl in Miami, the Champs Bowl in Orlando, the Chick-fil-A in Atlanta, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, the Meineke Car Care in Charlotte, the Music City in Nashville, the Emerald in San Francisco, and the Humanitarian in Boise. And, of course, an advantageous tie-in to college football’s new playoff series, starting in 2015, and the $18 million per school payout deal with ESPN.
The basketball schedule, of course, becomes even tougher with the addition of perennial powers Duke and North Carolina to go along with Wake Forest, Syracuse, Pittsburgh. The ACC becomes the best basketball conference in the nation, without question. Baseball, soccer, women’s basketball and softball benefit greatly, as does women’s lacrosse.
Whether conference realignment is over or not, a bright new day is beckoning the University of Louisville.