A lot of things confuse me about the University of Louisville fan base, but I’m not sure there is anything that confuses me more than the overconfident arrogance shared by fans and players alike this summer concerning their Sept. 2nd football opener against Kentucky. UK fans are understandably uneasy about this coming football season following two straight losing seasons under Joker Phillips, but what exactly has Louisville done in two years under Strong to suggest that Kentucky will get blown out at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium to open up the season?
Louisville is coming off of two 7-6 seasons (in the Big East, mind you) which were celebrated by jubilant Cardinal fans, one for beating Southern Mississippi in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl, and the other for beating Kentucky, while also losing to Florida International and Marshall, and losing in the Belk Bowl. Although we may not have the highest expectations for football in Lexington, I can’t imagine any possible scenario where we would actually be happy about losing to a Sun Belt school and a MAC school in the same season, just because we beat Louisville and made it to a bowl game.
Last year, beating Kentucky gave Charlie Strong a free pass with Louisville fans after a loss to Marshall the following week. If Joker beats Louisville this year, and then loses to Kent State and Western Kentucky the next two weeks (a la Louisville losing to FIU and Marshall), Joker and the UK football team would not be celebrated in Lexington as Strong’s Cardinals were a year ago in Louisville. If that scenario happened, I’m not even sure Joker would finish the season, and they certainly wouldn’t be able to win enough games to be bowl eligible in the SEC as Louisville was able to do last year with a Big East schedule.
The fact is that even though Strong appears to have Louisville on the right track with a young team and bright future, they haven’t done anything yet on the field to be as cocky as they’ve been acting this summer. It can even be argued that Louisville still hasn’t surpassed Kentucky for football state supremacy just yet on a permanent basis. They have a lot of young talent and recruiting seems to be going better for Louisville, but it’s the same Louisville program that only beat the Cats by 7 points a year ago, their first win over Kentucky in five years.
What if Kentucky doesn’t fumble in the red zone against the Cardinals last year in the 4th quarter, the Cats tie the game up, and eventually win? What if UK wins that game and eventually makes a bowl with a 6-6 record after ending the streak against Tennessee? Then how would Louisville fans have felt about a 6-7 season a year ago with losses to their in-state rival, FIU, and Marshall, and how would Kentucky fans feel about their program as well with wins over Louisville, Tennessee, and a bowl appearance?
Should we buy into Louisville as heavy favorites on Sept. 2nd based on one play last season, a fumble, which changed the outcome of last year’s game and ultimately the season for both programs as a whole? There will also almost certainly be a new quarterback under center for the Cats in this year’s game. I’m not trying to play the “what if” game to say that Kentucky should or could have done this or that last season. I’m simply trying to show that the two teams are still not that far apart from each other. Even in a year as miserable as last year for Kentucky, there was not a significant difference in the two programs and there’s no evidence to suggest that there will be a huge difference on the scoreboard in this year’s contest either.
Give Louisville credit for winning last year in Commonwealth and for the gains they have made as a program since Strong has took over, but they just barely hung on for their first win over Kentucky in five years. Let me repeat: they are 1-4 against UK in five years and own only a 7-point victory last season. Are they really so much superior to Kentucky and at the point where their fans and even players should be making tweets like these?
Here is just one of many ridiculous UL fan tweets, this one coming from @NBsportsguy:
@wilmhoffKSR beating UK is the same as beating Missouri State. Just another warmup team while we prepare for real teams. You all are a joke.
— That Guy (@NBsportsguy) June 15, 2012
And even the players are getting involved:
Sept. 2nd, the game shouldn’t even be close.
— devante parker (@devante_parker9) June 14, 2012
@JHNNsports Kentucky sucks, end of discussion.
— devante parker (@devante_parker9) June 15, 2012
What does it say about Charlie Strong that he is allowing this to happen? And how exactly would #L1C4 react if Kentucky happens to win on Sept. 2nd?
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