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The Religion of Blue

“Look on my works, Ye Mighty, and despair.”


If Big Blue Madness is a religion, then today’s celebration at Rupp was an old-fashioned revival.

This wasn’t your regularly-scheduled, routine production.  This was an impromptu celebration that was hosted more for spontaneous celebration than tradition.  I won’t go so far as to call it hero worship, but maybe it comes close.  The reactions of fans at Rupp was deafening; it was almost as loud as the game against North Carolina (I can’t speak for the Louisville game, because I wasn’t there).  And for what?  There were no surprises involved, and the whole thing lasted about half an hour.  We knew what was going to happen, it has no effect on the outcome of last night or next year, and we turned out in droves (myself included).

The “why” is simple: we’ve been waiting for this for too long.  Now that it’s happened, we don’t know what to do with ourselves.  Things for our Wildcats had gotten a little ho-hum in the tournament over the years.  That is, before we finally got some excitement last year with our first Final Four in over a decade.  Last night that fourteen-year anticipation finally tipped over onto the streets (although some, for sure, had spilled over a little prematurely on Saturday), and absolute bedlam was unleashed on Lexington

From the audience belting the “usual” songs to start out (the C-A-T-S chant taking the usual place of, say Amazing Grace), to the clapping and standing every time somebody said something inspirational, all the way to the “bowing” when Anthony Davis’ name (or wingspan) was announced, today crossed the line from celebration to ceremony.  The championship posters took the place of church bulletins.  The elderly greeters were replaced by… well, elderly greeters.  Kind of the same in that way.

And, of course, you can’t have a revival without an energized speaker.  Today, Cal was borderline evangelical.  He showed the kind of emotion getting off of the bus (in the form of a few elaborate fist pumps and kicks) that we hadn’t seen before.  Even he knew that today wasn’t just a regular “service”, but really something more.  Something more exciting, something more uncommon, and something more sacred.

It was a veritable Bluegrass Revival.

The excitement that pervaded Rupp today was matched only by the reverence shown toward those responsible for creating and maintaining the dogma that inhabits Kentucky basketball.  From Barnhart to Weems, Beckham to MKG, everybody was caught up in the celebration.  And, of course, Cal was comfortable being the Grand High Poobah.

Article written by Corey Nichols

23 Comments for The Religion of Blue

  1. Bleed Blue
    9:51 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink


  2. wildcat_marine
    9:59 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    I got lost (hard to follow) in all (every one) of your (the writer’s) uses of parentheses (unnecessary things). Go Cats! (more beisner)

  3. Explorer
    10:05 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Please post a video of the event that works. Had to work today and I am dying to see a video of the festivities.

  4. Blueswade
    10:06 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Can I get an “amen” ?

  5. Mr. Obvious
    10:08 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Where will it replay on tv possibly?

  6. Class
    10:11 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    That was great and also the truth. Was there, couldn’t hold the tears back, Lord I almost broke out in tongues. This was great, I’ll never forget this moment.

  7. Slonedogg
    10:17 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Dude UK is unreal! BBN!!!!!!! Loved the celebration

  8. expat cat
    10:17 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    you might want to rethink that initial quote. it’s actually from a Shelley poem (Ozymandias) and it doesn’t quite mean what you think… here’s Wikipedia:

    “The central theme of “Ozymandias” is the inevitable complete decline of all leaders, and of the empires they build, however mighty in their own time.”

    Don’t jinx us – find a better quote

  9. John Ellis
    10:18 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    I think you can watch it online at the official UK Athletics site (I watched it live there).

    You know UK didn’t win a title from Rupp’s last in 1958 – which was a surprise – til Hall’s in 1978. This is another UK Golden Age, but no one wins them on a regular basis, like clockwork. I hope – hope against hope – that what Tubby did is more appreciated now. Pitino and Cal, wonderful as their titles are, won with the best teams, most talented teams. Tubby won with a team a lot like last year’s, in fact with less NBA talent as it turned out. Time to schedule Minn., beat the hell out of them and retire his name in the rafters too.

  10. Mr. Obvious
    10:23 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Thanks 9

  11. BigBlueSkyDog
    10:26 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    9) I watched the game at home but I heard when Tubby and Donna were shown at the game that many barrooms erupted in cheers. Joe B. was never appreciated by BBN until after the nightmare of Eddie Sutton. I guess Clyde did the same thing for Tubby. I hope he comes back to Rupp to get the final ovation he richly deserves. He’s one of the classiest coaches to walk a sideline and to this day the job he did in the ’98 tournament is a coaching masterpiece.

  12. Thatguy
    10:31 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Amen, Blue Jesus.

  13. CoalFreeCats
    10:31 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Looking at the image at the top of the post:

    Now there’s your point. blank. period.

  14. Indiana Cat Fan
    10:32 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Hey Matt, is there going to be a DVD recap of this season? That thing would sell like hot cakes!

  15. Marty
    10:38 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Very tacky post. Thank God for the win. Don’t worship the players.

  16. CoalFreeCats
    10:38 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    And since we’ve got a poetry vibe going in this thread (it *is* National Poetry Month, after all):

    Whoever said “April is the cruelest month” must have been from Kansas.

    (Really he was from Missouri. Same difference, right? It’s all just not-Kentucky to me.)

  17. 00BBN00
    10:38 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    9 & 11) I absolutely agree. Tubby doesn’t get the love from BBN that he deserves. And Cal’s inclusion of him as UK greats during his BB Madness speech has changed that to some degree. Tubby is certainly one of the classiest men to walk the sidelines at UK.

  18. Star
    10:42 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    My only regret is that my father, my hero and lifelong UK fan, wasn’t able to witness this unbelievable win and celebration; he passed away on March 16. Somehow, I’m confident he found Mr. Keightley, Rupp, and Cawood and helped guide this team to victory. Miss you and love you Dad! The Cats did it!

  19. LL
    10:59 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    The championship celebrations are a long-held tradition in my family. Whether it was meeting them at the airport in 1978 or watching them roll the bus in in 1996 and 1998. Today was no different. Watching the banner take its rightful place among the rafters took my breath away.

  20. nkyukfan29
    11:14 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    The championship celebration was special. I couldn’t stop smiling.

  21. Tacky
    11:58 pm April 3, 2012 Permalink

    Lighten up Marty. Jeesh. Just because you worship a book of fables doesn’t mean it’s wrong for us to glorify people that actually exist.

  22. Truth
    12:16 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    Worship God. Love the ‘cats. 21, be sure of what your saying and the attitude you’re playing because you’ll know for sure come judgement day.

  23. Wildcatman44
    5:04 am April 4, 2012 Permalink

    UK basketball without a doubt is my religion. I have no problem admitting that.