Why the Louisville-Cincinnati football game is really big

The Battle for the Keg of Nails, the 50th meeting between the University of Louisville and Cincinnati football teams.  But why does this game really matter?

  • Pivotal for both teams: For U of L, an indication of whether Louisville is on the way back from obscurity, a wasted three seasons under former coach Steve Kragthorpe. For Cincinnati, whether the program continues to have the superior program as under previous coach Brian Kelly.
  • Both programs have had their ups and downs over the years, sometimes struggling for program survival. They compete with nearby universities for the best talent in their states, relying heavily on outstanding talent in their communities and what they can steal from other states.
  • Usually coached by individuals who are seeking to advance their career paths, using the program to prove themselves. The fans always hoping men like Charlie Strong and Butch Jones will have success, appreciate what the current job provides, and use the opportunity to turn their current program into perennial power houses.
  • They compete fiercely with other state universities for media attention within their own communities, the scribes and broadcast analysts often disrespecting the local markets for larger statewide audiences.
  • Beyond the core base, fan loyalty is fickle at best, largely depending on how the teams have performed lately. Many arrive late, wander about during games, and leave early. Their teams have rarely enjoyed prolonged success, so, rightly or wrongly, the interest of many fans rise and fall in the direction of the program’s recent fortunes.

Forward or backward? Much more than a Keg of Nails is at stake.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “Why the Louisville-Cincinnati football game is really big”

  1. Interesting how you have put it…. I am a Cincinnati fan and I think even though it comes across somewhat disfunctional for both teams…I think you have hit the “nail” on the head.

  2. It’s patently unfair to say, ‘wasted three seasons under former coach Steve Kragthorpe.’
    Wasted means you just didn’t use it to good effect. What Krag did was to DISMANTLE the team and the fan base. Kind of like the difference between spending an evening in a bar now and then (a waste), and becoming a homeless alchoholic panhandling on the street (three years under Kragthorpe.) It’s going to take while for a total rehab, but Charlie Strong at least has us out of the gutter.

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