When it comes to advertising, there’s an age old idiom: You only mention your competitor by name if the competitor is ahead of you because you don’t want you don’t want to give the public the impression that you and your competitor are on the same level. From most of the talk from the member’s of Cardinal Nation, someone should let them know that because as soon as they proclaim that the University of Louisville Athletics Department had the best overall season in college sports history (arguable), they let you know exactly where the Wildcats of Kentucky finished in various sports.
The folks in red are quick to tell you that the Kentucky football team finished 2-10. They know that the Wildcat Men’s Basketball team followed up a championship campaign with a first round NIT loss. They know that the Wildcat Women’s Basketball team lost in the Elite Eight. They know that the Wildcat baseball team didn’t advance in the NCAA Tournament. It seems as if every single member of Card Nation knows these facts about Kentucky athletics. The question is why?
Why do Louisville fans know the date and score of the Kentucky/Duke game in 1992? Why do they know the exact date that the NCAA put UK on Probation in the early 1990s (and I think most have the “Kentucky Shame” SI cover as some sort of twisted momento)? Why do they know how long UK’s losing streak was to Tennessee in football? Why do they care so much about the University of Kentucky?
Simple. As their own football coach, Charlie Strong pointed out last year, they want to be Kentucky fans. It’s just that simple.
Now, there have been times when the Cardinal athletic teams have, on the field, have out performed the Wildcats, to dispute otherwise would be ridiculous. But, even when the Cats haven’t performed well on the field, the passion of the Big Blue Nation has never, ever been questioned. Until recently, the football team has been a top 25 attendance (not in total attendance, but in attendance based on stadium capacity). The basketball’s attendance numbers are legendary, whether the Cats play home or away or at neutral sites (Big Blue Mist, anyone?). And is there anywhere else in the country where people camp out for weeks in advance, just to get a chance to see the basketball team practice?
The University of Louisville, no matter what it does, will always be the Garfunkel, Oates and Robin to Kentucky’s Simon, Hall and Batman. The Cardinals win the Sugar Bowl and the post season talk around the Commonwealth has been UK coach Mark Stoops recruiting (Rivals Top 5) and the passion that he’s bringing to the long dormant football program. The Cardinals win their first NCAA title since 1986 and Cal sends two more first round picks to the NBA and welcomes yet another top ranked recruiting class to Lexington. And if you don’t think the Cats move the needle, ESPN does: the live practice aired during the 2011-12 season; the inside/behind the scenes look at the beginning of the 2012-13 season; and after winning the NCAA title, both teams met with President Obama at the White House, but only one team got their own ESPNU special about it (and it wasn’t the Dirty Birds). Even Coach Stoops got an ESPN special when he got hired. A 2-10 Kentucky team hires a new coach and he gets his own ESPN special?
Sometimes, little brothers just do little brother things. And most of the time, they’re just jealous of all the accolades bestowed upon big brother. As Coach Calipiari has hanging in his office, “Coach Your Team.” So, my Cardinal brothers and sisters, worry about your own team because I assure you, the Wildcats of the University of Kentucky will be just fine. Trust me.