This morning one Drew Franklin posed a simple question to his ‘tweeple’ (as he tends to call them.) He asked his followers if they would take a basketball loss tonight, for a football win tomorrow. (Note: In this scenario, a win for both teams is not out of the question. You are simply picking if you would take a loss tonight, to guarantee a win tomorrow.) I thought that was an interesting question, so I’m going to pose it to you readers as well. But not before I give my take on it.
Firstly, what would each win mean to each team? As far as the basketball team is concerned, this game holds no huge meaning. Yes, it’s a team they should beat handily, and yes, Patrick Patterson is probably as tired of dropping early season games as we are watching it happen. But a loss tonight would not hurt Kentucky’s post season chances in the least, though there would be plenty of pixels darkened discussing what happened. As for the football team? Tomorrow is a season defining game. Win, and you are bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive year, lose and you have to beat Georgia or a rising Tennessee team to make it to the post season. In a sport with multiple ‘Most-Important-Game-Of-The-Season,’ that’s exactly what the Vandy game now represents. The football team has to want this weekends game more.
But I’m not asking the teams if they will trade wins (and neither was Drew,) the question was posed to the fans. And what matters most to us? Undoubtedly, a win tonight. Yes, when you boil down to it, we are a basketball school. But this season, and the success it may bring, means much more than that. So what, if the basketball team loses tonight? In the grand scheme of the season, it means little to nothing. We are without our star point guard (well, one of them.) There is a new system to implement. We are starting freshmen, we have a new coach, there may or may not be a new truck, etc. There are plenty of reasons to be okay with a loss tonight, but there is one main reason to not be. You see, for the past four years we have seen the program steadily decline, and much like A Louisville assistant, we sat there pretending as if it weren’t happening. Not to us. Not to Kentucky. But it was, and it did. And it’s because of that, that the basketball team must win tonight.
Ultimately what it boils down to is standards. UK football is at the standard we expect it to be. Consistently decent, and in a position to go to a good bowl game if everything lines up correctly. UK football is no longer at the point where they need to be given a win, we can expect them to get it for themselves. We can trust in them to get their business taken care of, and that isn’t something we’ve always been able to say. But if they don’t? Well there is always Georgia or Tennessee. Or even next year, as much as I hate to say it.
Kentucky basketball, however, is a completely different beast. The standard is not to make the NCAA tournament as an 8 or 9 seed with an occasional NIT berth, but that’s what we have had to settle with for a while. The fans are hungry. We have wanted desperately to matter again, and we are on the cusp of a season where it would appear as though we finally do. To see a loss tonight would bring up uncertainties and bad memories, two things that I don’t know if we are ready to take. At least without half a bottle of Turkey to comfort us. Personally, I’m praying for a win-win weekend (and I honestly think that it will happen.) But is it so bad that I’m willing to potentially throw away a bowl game for a taste at the success that I’ve been yearning to feel again? You tell me.