Earlier today, Drew told you how the SEC caught coaches off guard by tossing out the conference schedules discussed last month and starting from scratch in hopes of achieving “competitive balance.” While we won’t know the complete schedules until next month, we know this: Kentucky’s “constant rival” may no longer be Florida, and one of our five home-and-home series will be Vanderbilt. So, this begs the question: who should be Kentucky’s “constant rival” in the SEC? Let’s look at the contenders:
— Vanderbilt: Although the ‘Dores will be down this year as a result of losing pretty much their entire team, the program is always competitive, and
Bill Dauterive Kevin Stallings is a pretty awesome villain. Add in their bizarre opera house of a gym and the growing animosity between Kentucky and Vanderbilt fans and you’ve got a pretty great rivalry.
— Tennessee: Man, I hate Tennessee, because first of all, it’s Tennessee. The low-down dirty snitches were definitely more fun to hate when Bruce Pearl was strutting the sidelines, but perhaps Jarnell Stokes and his promises to beat the Cats will pump some bad blood back into the series. Cuonzo Martin seems likeable enough, but there is history there: Tony Harris, Ron Slay, Bowser. Just thinking about it gets me riled up.
— Florida: The Cats were originally paired with the Gators as rivals before the league switched it up, so odds are they’ll be matched with someone else, but it’s hard not to make this list without including Florida. The “spurned lover” Billy Donovan drama back in the day worked the Big Blue Nation into a frenzy, and although most Cat fans seem to have gotten over that, there have been many hateable Gators over the years to stoke the fire, including Matt Walsh, Joakim Noah, and Teddy Dupay. Chris Walker committed to being a Gator on Sunday morning, and didn’t waste any time promising fans a National Championship. He’ll have help from fellow top 2013 recruit Kasey Hill, which means the next few years will include some classic Kentucky/Florida games in Rupp and the O’Connell Center.
— Arkansas: I wish. Can we resurrect the Arkansas teams from the mid-90’s please?
The smart money’s on Tennessee, but after #OccupyMemorial, I can’t help but hope for Vanderbilt. You?