Kentucky football: 5 reasons UK fans can be thankful that they're not Louisville fans
Nobody has to tell Kentucky and Louisville fans about rivalry week. The old chestnut of elderly UK and UL fans getting into a fight at a dialysis clinic is worth revisiting … because it actually happened. Forget politics, religion or any of the other divides in contemporary America — in Kentucky, it’s red or blue. For Big Blue Nation, here are 5 reasons they can be thankful that they aren’t Louisville fans.
1. Scott Satterfield
Satterfield immediately showed that he had no idea what was going on when he challenged Mark Stoops after his first UK-UL game about Kentucky players making “L down” gestures. Did that happen? Of course … but considering how often Cardinals flash the L sign after making big plays, that’s going to happen. Particularly when you lose an intrastate rivalry game 45-13. This week, Satterfield has both complained about bad health on his team and Kentucky’s allegedly lighter schedule. At least he hasn’t secretly tried to leave town, like he did in the offeseason. Okay, Lou Holtz, quit whining and let’s see the game.
Look, Kentucky has taken a fair amount of public heat for allowing Kroger to put its name on the stadium. Plenty of people (your humble columnist among them) believe that commercial interests have no reason to put their names onto publicly-funded stadiums. But you know what’s worse? Having to take a name OFF your stadium. From its inception, Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium prompted plenty of jokes — a beatdown delivered in 30 minutes or it’s free, that sort of thing. But when John Schnatter … well, you can look for yourself at what he did … but when he prompted the University of Louisville to take his name off the stadium, well, that was something.
3. The whole constant NCAA thing
Again, Kentucky takes its fair share of ribbing on NCAA issues. The whole Dwane Casey sending cash to Chris Mills incident in the late ’80s is well remembered by the rest of college sports. It’s not like Kentucky hasn’t dabbled in other NCAA issues, drawing probation for basketball and football in the early 1950s and the late 1970s, and for football in the early 2000s.
But let’s just note that this is smooth sledding compared to the disgrace of Louisville’s entire program. Among the more notable stories to draw attention has been prostitutes for players, payment for recruits, assistant coaches getting ratted out for potential extortion charges by the basketball coach — and we hadn’t even gone back far enough to talk about Rick Pitino’s own sex scandal at Louisville. The NCAA seems to have its own headquarters in Indy to deal with Louisville. Or at least, it should.
4. Conference jumping
If you’re old enough to remember Louisville before the ACC … well, you don’t have to be very old. To the Cardinals’ credit, the ACC was a massive improvement. They were an Independent, a C-USA school, a Big East school, even an AAC school for a year. Louisville has always had a story for why over-inflated victories over nobodies should count double while Kentucky has fought it out in the SEC. Of course, when Louisville arrived in the ACC, that became a massive powerhouse of a conference … according to its fans. It’s still the league that gave us Duke in a conference title game. Lately, it has been Clemson and the 7 dwarves. The last time Clemson didn’t win the league championship was 2013. But don’t tell Cardinals fans that. Wake Forest might be the second coming of Georgia’s current squad per Louisville backers. It just means … less?
5. Because Kentucky has taken back the series
Heading into 2016, Bobby Petrino had beaten Stoops 3 times in a row (twice in Louisville and once before in his latest image rehabilitation job at Western Kentucky). But with Louisville a 4-score favorite at home, Kentucky upset the mighty Cardinals and Heisman QB Lamar Jackson in a game that seemed to elevate the Stoops tenure to another level. Kentucky now has 3 of the last 4 wins in the series, and the last couple haven’t been close — a 46-point win just after Petrino had cowardly slunk off in midseason, and a 32-point win over Satterfield’s first team. Momentum is in Kentucky’s corner, and there’s good reason to think the Wildcats can keep it there.