In the interest of full disclosure.

Cotton Top was 12 years old at an orphanage in Versailles when he became a University of Louisville devotee. Like the other kids he hated the word orphanage, preferring the “children’s home” descriptor. They especially disliked the bus with the words “Methodist Home” in large bold letters on both sides.

Cotton Top would take an interest in everything Louisville, where the cousins lived. Applying his small allowance toward subscriptions to the daily newspapers, keeping large meticulous scrapbooks of every article about U of L, and faithfully listening to George Walsh or Ed Kallay calling the games on WHAS or WAVE radio. He was more familiar with the city map than most Louisvillians.

As a Louisville fan in Central Kentucky, the skinny kid was often a target, confronted with the not-subtle comments from kids of the UK persuasion during televised U of L games, with TV becoming more available during the teen years. More than once, the aggravation became so intense there was no option other than stepping outside to defend one’s honor.


As a Louisville fan in Central Kentucky, the skinny kid was often a target, confronted with the not-subtle comments from kids of the UK persuasion.

[/pullquote]The activities director would get in on the act occasionally. Once while driving the bus from a youth meeting, he loudly proclaimed from the driver’s seat that the University of Louisville basketball team would never win a national championship.

One still regrets to this day never having had an opportunity to remind him of how wrong he was.

As an adult, Cotton Top would obtain a postgraduate degree from the University of Louisville a decade after graduating from Kentucky Wesleyan and a stint in Vietnam. He would marry a girl with a University of Kentucky degree, happily watching her switch her allegiance to U of L a few years later.

They would be in the crowd while U of L was winning its first national basketball championship in Indianapolis, and again in Dallas six years later, this time with their nine-year-old son. They would see U of L become a top 10 football program, win a BCS  Bowl in Miami, only to endure the Kragthorpe era. Witnessing ground being broken for a new basketball arena and the construction and subsequent expansion of a U of L football stadium were also important milestones.

Cotton Top would  see his Louisville-born son become equally, if not even more, enthusiastic in his support of U of L, as well as enjoy seeing four grandchildren wearing the red and black and a daughter-in-law loving the colors.

He’s better known now as the observer. An incurable Louisville fanatic, unable to understand how any Louisvillian could follow another team. Well-versed in the school’s athletic history, he is occasionally outspoken, sometimes over the top, demanding and never satiated when it comes to U of L. But you probably already knew that.

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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.