You look ridiculous.
It started last year, luckily, at about the same time I arrived in Bloomington. For me, IU had always been the “also-ran” of area teams: I didn’t hate them enough to root against them, and they weren’t good enough to matter. Sure, they had some solid teams in the early 90’s and a run to the Finals in ’02, but we generally would handle them. Soon, the harsh beatings and the antics of Mike Davis amalgamated into a comedic and humiliating burden for the Hoosier faithful and, true to form, they wilted.
As I expected, the Hoosier fans that I encountered in Bloomington were of a different ilk than the renegades residing in Louisville. There was a great deal of pride in appearances, and these fans were quick to note the cleanliness with which the program had operated. And Bob Knight. Good Lord, would they talk about Bob Knight. This is subjective thinking, so if it’s just me, I apologize, but is it exceedingly ironic to anyone else that IU hangs their hat on class and portrays themselves as a “program run right” while simultaneously praising the man made famous by violent outbursts and absolutely ludicrous behavior? You can say what you want about Knight’s record and his ability to mold young men, but that guy is borderline psychotic. One could easily surmise, then, that the dignified masses were blinded by the shiny trophies and Damon Baileys Knight brought to town, because when a lapse in judgment occurred simultaneously with a less than stellar performance on the floor, well, you’re gone, Knight. Coach! I mean, Coach Knight.
Even as the transition period wore down last fall, the collective yet unspoken drone from the do-no-wrong Hoosiers remained: “We don’t care about wins and losses, we just want to look down our noses at you.” That tone began to change rapidly, however, when a strong Hoosier team blasted the Wildcats in Bloomington last year, without their superstar. Enduring taunts of “you got the wrong Crawford, brah” and “even that fat kid scored on you chumps” and “Eric Gordon, brah, sick, brah,” I strode across campus each day in UK hat, strangely prescient of the forthcoming Hoosier demise. Perhaps it had something to do with a certain coach’s checkered past…
And then, it happened. As quickly as they rose to the top, their candy-striped world came crashing down on top of them. Nothing explains the Kelvin Sampson situation better than the tired cliche, “If you play with fire, you’re gonna get burned.” IU knew his past, and they, essentially, sold their souls. Sampson was, in effect, a blazing torch sent to ignite an embarrassed fanbase. Unfortunately, Bloomington was apparently covered in gasoline (metaphorically, that is), and it blew up in their faces.
They’ll probably end up just fine as the Crean Era slowly trudges onward, and hell, they may even be competitive again. It’s just nice to watch them have to dust off all the mud and grime they’d been so quick to sling on others for so many years. Plus, those little Pitino rumors were cute.
So from Matt Nover to Dane Fife to the guy who kicked Bogans to the kids who wear candy-striped warm-ups with Gucci sunglasses and Tom Coverdale jerseys to class, this Saturday’s for you. Once again, you’ll be relegated to your rightful spot in the backseat of this rivalry, where you can resume your perpetual wait for fairer weather.
But what’s it matter to you, right? You’re more of a Colts fan, anyway.