Happy Friday, gals and guys. Wait… This isn’t just a Friday. This is, according to Matt Jones—alleged source of divine truth on all things Kentucky—“one of the biggest 2 Sport days in UK Athletics History.” Ah yes, Kentucky’s basketball team will take on the Louisville Cardinals in Lexington at 1:00 ET, before Stoops’ Troops suit up in Music City to give us an all-time Wildcat matchup against Northwestern at 4:30 ET. As a pro-Kentucky blog, we’ll preview both matchups today with a slight Kentucky bias, but that’s okay—I think there’s general anti-Louisville sentiment throughout the sports world. We’ll start with Kentucky vs. Louisville.
Let’s be honest with ourselves: the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry game doesn’t hold the implications it has in times past. Beginning in 2010, The Calipari-Pitino showdown was a must-watch for not only the SEC and ACC (Big East until 2013), but for college basketball fans nationwide. From Josh Harrelson’s double-double at the Yum! Center in 2010, to multiple NCAA Tournament matchups (all won by Cal), to the personal rivalry between Cal and Rick, the animosity between the basketball giants has been unparalleled in NCAAM. But today, and in the wars to come, we face the possibility that the rivalry’s glory days have ended. For the first time in the Cal era, the Kentucky fan base faces fatigue over learning and emotionally attaching itself to a new starting-5 each season. I speak for both Big Blue Nation and myself when I say that it is hard to watch players whose names I have not learned after 11 games (which wasn’t a problem for me until this year), and it is even harder when they underachieve for the first half of every season.
Now for Louisville. Pitino has been replaced by former player, David Padgett (one of the least controversial interim hires for the University of Louisville), effectively ending the Daddy Cal-Slick Rick rivalry—though given Calipari’s 8-2 record against Rick since 2010, the word “rivalry” may be a bit romantic. All I ask of 2018 is that Louisville gives Rick Junior (currently at Minnesota) the head coaching position when Padgett is dismissed from his duties. I mean, even Padgett knows his job is a ticking time bomb: the man went from being the top-ranked high school center in the nation to “associate video coordinator” at Louisville in ten years. I’ve got nothing personal against the guy, but his roller coaster of a career has to crash and burn soon enough. It kind of reminds me of that VH1 show, “Where Are They Now?”; I like to think that ten years from now, we’ll learn that he’s a middle school team’s ball-boy, or something like that. So, Louisville’s hiring Rick Junior as head coach would transition us to a new age in not only basketball in the bluegrass, but in the Calipari-Pitino(s) rivalry. I don’t think anyone would disagree with this: a Pitino must reign in Louisville.
-Bama Boi (AJBurgess54)