As the men’s basketball team of the University of Kentucky prepares to play the University of Louisville this Saturday in Louisville at the KFC Yum Center, many members of the Big Blue Nation are expecting the worst. They think that this young group of Wildcats don’t have it in them to win in such a hostile environment. They think that these Wildcats aren’t prepared to battle such a veteran well-coached Louisville Cardinal team. Even the most optimistic Kentucky fans harbor concerns about the journey the Cats are preparing to take. Me? I’m not worried. I’m not worried because Coach John Calipari has been down this road before. He’s been to the Four Circles of Hell, also known as “Card Nation.”
In 2010, Coach Cal took his 11th ranked Wildcats into the Yum Center for the first time. And, yes, we all remember it as Josh Harrellson’s coming out party (23 points, 14 rebounds), but who remembers… The Journey?
First Circle – Limbo
As Calipari and the Cats first entered the Yum Center, home to Card Nation, on that day in 2010, they found themselves in the First Circle of Hell where the souls in limbo reside. The souls that remain trapped in this level are good people. They’re good friends and good neighbors. And they’re Cardinal fans, but you will hear them say things like, “As long as Kentucky isn’t playing Louisville, I don’t mind if they win.” Being Louisville fans, they are the least offensive of the bunch and we’d like to thank that with a little push, they might just be able to see the light and become members of the Big Blue Nation. Instead, these lost souls are doomed for all eternity to see the great things being a Kentucky fan entails, yet cannot ever truly receive those blessing for themselves.
Second Circle – Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger
The Cats, led by Cal moved further into Yum, the sunlight from the outside world disappearing behind them and moved from Limbo to the Second Circle of Hell, where the next levels of Cardinal fans reside. It’s a world devoid of natural light, clean air or pure water. It’s a world of Papa John’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s a world of turtleneck sweaters and five pillars and Italian restaurants. The Second Circle is where Lust and Gluttony and Greed all mix.