Memphis back on the basketball schedule, following a six-year break in the rivalry.

Once before, there was a time lapse in the U of L-Memphis series, from 1991 to 1995 when Memphis, along with Cincinnati and Marquette, were members of the Great Midwest Conference. Louisville was in the Metro Conference.

But it was back on again with the creation of C-USA, the teams needing each other again.

A feeling of deja vu, recalling not being that excited initially about the series being renewed. Kind of like now, thinking we had left them in the past. But we also recognized then that it wouldn’t take long for the rivalry to become personal again.

We have too much in common with Memphis, always too much to prove to go our separate ways, too much in common to ignore. Urban schools with largely metropolitan area fan followings, competing with the state’s flagship universities for fans, players and media attention in their communities, seeking to rise above it all, wanting to take out the rival with similar challenges, proving who’s really better.

That explains in part why the Memphis administration was bitter when U of L was invited to the Big East Conference in 2004. Memphis stood in the way, invoking a provision in the conference bylaws that would have required teams to pay millions to leave C-USA early, forcing U of L to wait another year.

We aren’t really sure why Memphis is back on the schedule so soon. Maybe someone has forgiven and forgotten already? As long as these schools have basketball aspirations, the rivalry will be fierce.

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By Charlie Springer

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