January 21, 2012; Pittsburgh,PA, USA: Television announcers Huibert Davis (left) and Rece Davis (left center) and Digger Phelps (right center) and Jay Bilas (right) on the set of ESPN College Gameday prior to the game between the Pittsburgh Panthers and Louisville Cardinals at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USPRESSWIRE

Little Brother, Little Brother

ESPN, the Worldwide Leader in Sports, has announced the slate of college basketball games that will get a chance to be the focus for ESPN’s super popular Gameday series. For those of you that don’t know, every week during college football and during the latter part of the college basketball season, ESPN sets up shop on a college campus, usually showcasing the game that is deemed to be the biggest of the day.  The Wildcats of the University of Kentucky will host Gameday on February 15 when the Florida Gators come to Lexington.  Duke, Syracuse, Michigan State and even Coach John Calipari’s old stomping ground, Memphis, is hosting Gameday. Noticeably absent? The 2013 National Champion Cardinals of the University of Louisville. While the Cards do make an appearance when the visit Connecticut, the fact remains that the Gameday crew has never visited the Yum! Center.

Jan 14, 2012; Tallahassee, FL, USA; ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas during ESPN college basketball GameDay prior to the start of the game between the Florida State Seminoles and North Carolina Tar Heels at the Donald L. Tucker Center. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

The good people at ESPN, while we usually talk about their sinister motivations and biases, are generally about one thing: Ratings. And despite what the local sports media in city of Louisville will tell you, few people outside of Jefferson County, Kentucky will tune in to see the Louisville Cardinals do much of anything, including winning the Men’s hoops championship, finishing runner-up in women’s hoops, winning the Sugar Bowl and participating in the College World Series.  The Cards simply don’t move the needle and, as Coach Cal has stated, “at Kentucky we don’t move the needle, we are the needle.”

After both the Cards and the Cats won their recent men’s basketball national championships, both teams visited the White House. But only one, Kentucky, got its own ESPN special.  Only one had it’s in season broadcast on ESPNU. Kentucky. Only one team has had it’s own behind the scenes reality style show. Kentucky.  Even when a 2-10 team hired a new head football coach, that coach got his own special on ESPNU, new UK head football coach Mark Stoops. ESPN knows, the Big Blue Nation is wordwide and they will support their Cats by putting eyeballs on the TV screen to watch.

In time, this “Year of the Cardinal” will fade to the dustbin of history. Just like Furby, the Budweiser frogs, and MC Hammer Pants, 2013 will become a distant memory.  And no matter what the mighty Cardinals do, they still aren’t a national program. Not now. Not ever. Even with the best overall season in college athletics in at least a generation, they’re still second best, second tier, little brother. Don’t believe me? Ask ESPN.

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