I get it. I really do. I understand the reality of the situation between the University of Kentucky and Indiana University. I get what happened in 2012 in Bloomington. I get the animosity between John Calipari-Mitch Barnhart and Fred Glass-Tom Crean. Both sides have been petty in different regards and neither side is completely in the right. The issues between those parties were legitimate but the fact is that their problems robbed this fanbase and IU’s fanbase of one of the best rivalries we had. And before the comments section is flooded with “they don’t deserve us” and “that wasn’t really a rivalry anymore” and “they’re below us” let me remind you of two things:
- They’ve beaten us 2 out of the last 3 times we’ve played.
- Winthrop and UNC-Greensboro and Wofford and Belmont and UMKC and whoever else will litter the schedule every year don’t have nearly the meaning and excitement that the UK-IU games had, whether or not you think they are “worthy” or not.
IU’s program has absolutely dropped over the last few years and has never been at the level of the Bob Knight era but frankly, there are only a couple programs that can say they currently challenge UK year in and year out (Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, maybe Michigan State). Indiana is still a notable name in the college basketball world and I enjoyed playing them every year. And for those of us living in Louisville, that rivalry took on added meaning because we interacted with Hoosier fans more often than those from the mountains or Southern Kentucky.
With the hiring of Archie Miller and his relationship, or reported relationship, with John Calipari, my hope is talks resume to get that game back on the schedule. Now, the big issue that will arise is WHERE to play the games because Kentucky is certainly not going back to Assembly Hall and there really isn’t an arena that UK can play in besides Rupp Arena since Freedom Hall has fallen into disrepair and the Yum Center is certainly out. But if egos and past issues could be set aside, a yearly game in Indianapolis with a game at Rupp every 3rd year seems like a fair compromise. I’m sure many would disagree but as a fan, I don’t care about coaches and AD’s problems. I care about watching good basketball games.
And you would be a fool to deny the impact IU has had on our history. The only non-conference teams UK has played more in its history are Georgia Tech, which used to be in the SEC, and Notre Dame. The Cats and Hoosiers played every year from 1969 through 2012. You can’t deny they are a part of our history and the ability to renew that history is right there in front of us.
Maybe the ship has sailed and having a friend of Coach Cal now in charge won’t matter in the least. Maybe we’ll have to wait for Fred Glass and John Calipari to leave before this can be seriously considered. But consider me one fan who would be more than happy to see a cupcake off the schedule and IU back on. It is just basketball after all.