Perhaps the biggest news coming to Mark Stoops and his Kentucky Wildcats is that the annual rivalry game with the Louisville Cardinals has been moved to the final game of the season beginning 2014. This wasn’t a decision by either Mitch Barnhart or Tom Jurich, but came straight from the SEC. As you would expect, this has caused a lot of controversy but anytime you mess with a rivalry, these things happen. Ultimately, however, it won’t really matter I don’t believe but the esteemed Dick Gabriel would respectfully disagree with that assertion:
I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it, although with the change now in place, that’s roughly akin to screaming into a garbage pail:
I like the game as the opener. Why? I’m in the hype business.
When Bill Curry and Howard Schnellenberger got together and put this series in motion, one of their goals was to shift the focus of summertime sports chatter from basketball recruiting to football. Of course, back then recruiting (and the coverage thereof) was not the cottage industry it is now. Nor was there a guy named John Calipari in Lexington, putting together one incredible recruiting class after another.
But it succeeded. Talk shows that challenged hosts and callers alike to come up with something to discuss during the summer months had a built-in topic: UK vs. U of L football. Columnists, bloggers and message board attendees would ruminate on the subject as they counted the days until the game.
And it will be there in the future, but it will feature a different slant. The take from now on will be: Well, I guess we’ll just wait and see in November.
I’ve always considered a move to the end of the schedule a disadvantage for the Wildcats, although with Louisville’s impending move to the Atlantic Coast Conference, it might not be quite so pronounced.
Think about all those seasons we’ve seen the Wildcats limp, literally, through the final stages of a rugged season. However they open up, against whatever other affordable, beatable non-conference opponents are on the worksheet, they still find themselves staring into the teeth of what’s usually a brutal SEC schedule.
They haven’t had a winning conference record since the mid-70s, and the league just keeps getting better.
Now, when it’s over, they’ll still have a game to play, against their arch-rival. And while I recognize the fact that a win at that point over Louisville could make people forget about a rough season, I still believe it will be tougher for the Wildcats to stand up to the physical rigors of the SEC and then be ready to play their (relative) best.
With so many others happening at virtually the same time, if it’s not a competitive matchup, it will become little more than a footnote.
Here are Mark Stoops and Neal Brown’s full comments re: rescheduling the Kentucky vs. Louisville match up:
WOULD YOU PREFER RIVALRY GAME TO COME AT THE END OF THE YEAR? “I guess so. I mean, why not? I just left a pretty good rivalry at the end of the year. Florida-Florida State’s pretty big. A pretty good deal at the end of the year. From my understanding, that was what was best for both conferences. So that will be great. That will be a lot of fun.”
AS A KENTUCKY NATIVE, DO YOU LIKE THE RIVALRY GAME BEING AT THE END OF THE YEAR? “Yeah, it will be different. I think it’s one of those things that — I think that’s the rivalry weekend, you know what I mean? I think that one thing that’s really going to be neat about it is, each team is going to go through the same process. You know, it’s going to be — there’s not as many games that week. So maybe earlier in the season, I think we get lost in the shuffle a little bit. Some people may disagree with that. But later in the year, playing on that rivalry weekend, I think it will be good for us. It doesn’t matter anyway; we’re going to play it at the end.”
ESPN has been compiling a list of the Top 100 Offensive and Defensive NFL players and through 30 (100-71), one former Kentucky Wildcat finds himself alone at #76: Buffalo Bills WR Stevie Johnson.
How did we rank the players?
We polled 63 experts to rate each player on a 0-to-10 scale, with 10 being the best regardless of position in the NFL. Ties, as denoted by an asterisk, were broken by determining which player had more ballots with the highest number. (If players were tied, the player with three 10s was ranked higher than the player with two 10s. If the tied players had the same amount of the highest number — each with two 10s — we moved to the next number; three 9s beat two 9s).
Johnson is the first player in Bills history to have 1,000 receiving yards in three straight seasons. Prior to Johnson, no player in team history had posted even two straight seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards.
– ESPN Stats & Information (@ESPNStatsInfo)
He finished the 2012 campaign with 1,046 receiving yards and 6 TD’s.