Power (K) Ballad

In 1997 the University of Kentucky ended its ridiculous relationship with Converse, a brand that has since become mostly fictional, and signed a lucrative sponsorship deal with upstart capitalist/designer running shoe outfit Nike, which, according to the documentary Prefontaine, was founded by Jared Leto, who plays Claire Danes in Homeland. The new deal (as opposed to the New Deal, which was different {1}) coincided with an arms race in college athletics, wherein coaches’ salaries soared, facilities--and, frankly, VCRs--became obsolete and cable expansion meant increased brand visibility. According to fact, UK’s original partnership with Nike netted the school upwards of $57 million at fruition, and that was before the Kardashians ruined money (2). In an ocean of college sports becoming increasingly indiscriminate about who it capsized, this new revenue stream would prove to be Kentucky's mainsail; UK, if it wanted to keep competitive pace with the rest of the NCAA, needed a little medicine, and Nike was its willing pharmacist.

But medicine has side effects. Check the back of any Pepto bottle: WARNING: Could cause anal canyons. Seriously, check. It’s a fact (3). Look, I don’t know about you, but I’m fixed good anal canyon-wise. Now if only UK, my alma mater, bestower of my Marketing degree which has in no way prepared me for adult life, had read the small print on the back of the Swoosh, perhaps it could have spared us from the anal canyon that has since slithered from our football helmets to our t-shirts (God knows we love our t-shirts) to the most sacrosanct piece of real estate in the bluegrass, our Holy of Holies:

Is the U? Is the K? Is the bear? Is the guy?

Well, it’s illegal, Burton, I know that. 

This gelding, this soulless abmoination, is the Belgium (4) logos. It can’t decide what it’s trying to say or how it wants to say it. Well, you know what? Thanks for the waffles, Belgium. You can take your Van Damme back (except Bloodsport; I’m keeping Bloodsport).


Remember this?

For the record, I love both the penis tongue logo and its hastily conceived stepdaughter, upside down vagina tongue logo. The U and the K are stacked like God intended, and it reminds me of the Wildcats of my youth. The problem with this logo, though, lies in its busyness. Busy logos become dated logos, and a university as historically successful as Kentucky should bear a standard as timeless as the tradition it represents. After all, who prizes its past more than Kentucky fans? A logo, insofar as it cannot talk, should be simple and clear. It should send one message. In our case, that message is: We are Kentucky, and we’re here to kick your ass. Or if, like me, you prefer the R-rated version: 


Simple. Now, if only we could find a logo that would send that message instead of our current message of: We are the slightly lighter shade of blue Nike Wildcats, and we’ll constantly make subtle logo changes to sell more t-shirts because omg these people love t-shirts

No wonder we suck at football. We’re playing against a bunch of schools who NEVER CHANGE THEIR LOGOS. For eff's sake, Alabama still has numbers on the sides of their helmets. Why, the shrewd observer may ask, do they never change their logos? The answer is, fittingly, simple. The power of a clear, simple logo can be found in its timelessness. This is who we were, this is who we are, and this is who we’ll be tomorrow after we’ve kicked your ass. Now, remember this?

Minus the fund; it's literally the only one I could find. 

Minus the fund; it's literally the only one I could find. 

I mean...right? Credit: Mark Story/Lexington Herald-Leader

I mean...right? Credit: Mark Story/Lexington Herald-Leader


Like with deities, less is more (5). Don’t make me divide my worshipfulness between the god of lightning:

The god of wine:

And the goddess of waffles:


I love them equally.

Throughout history (both real and NCAA), the most recognizable symbols are the most recognizable symbols because they haven’t changed. You know why? Because, like Alabama’s helmets, they haven’t had to.

Texas Longhorns.jpg

Timeless. For fack's sake, Nike, we haven’t asked you to change your swoosh, which you never have, because your swoosh is the Kentucky Basketball of corporate branding. 

For you more superficial readers (chicks), think about it like this. People who are super good looking don’t have to worry about what we’re going to wear every day because we know we look good (6). We (7) never say: Do these jeans make my ass look fat? No, our (8) asses look great. You know what is making your ass look fat? That GD interlocking logo. God help us--literally--the day Nike signs a sponsorship deal with the Vatican and asks the Pope if he wants to church up (pun so intended) the crucifix. That cross is nice, Phil Jared Prefontaine Leto Knight would say, but what if we interlocked it with a swoosh, a badger, and one of those fish that sad people put on their cars? Does that sound like something you might be interested in? I have a feeling Pope Francis would say, “Just don’t do it.” 


I’m not saying UK should end its relationship with Nike--far from it. The timeless swoosh, which has never changed, makes every uniform cooler because the swoosh, which has never changed, is timeless. It’s as American as bald eagles and victory. I’m saying Kentucky should decide to see itself as different from Houston and say, “Hi, Nike. You’ve been great for us and, based on our visibility as a charter member of the SEC and our longstanding position as Owner, Chairman and CEO of college basketball, we feel we’ve been great for you. So, if it’s not too much trouble could you please stop treating our most visible symbol with the same care you give to Houston? Don’t worry, it won’t take any extra thinking. We’ve already done that and packed it into two simple steps.

Step 1: We have this screaming anal canyon on all our crap (pun so not intended) that you call our interlocking logo. Please get a guy from Pikeville and a guy from Paducah and have them pull. You should have two letters now, a U and a K. As for the U, give it a blanket, some Preparation H and wish it the best because you know what everybody has a GD U. And anyway, it’s beyond our care now, like that Voldemort baby thing under Dumbledore’s chair at King’s Cross after Harry dies. As for the K, there are some things you should know. First, it’s a little like us, we proud Kentuckians. It’s unflinching. It requires no polishing, and it imbues only that which makes it stronger (9).  It starts its day when the sun rises. From the east, down in the valleys (we call them hollers), it yawns and stretches across the bluegrass, thundering along on the muscled backs of our thoroughbred horses through our capitol city and her sister to the north, slowing to a gallop across our farmlands before it settles with the setting sun, satisfied, having united all who saw it.

Step 2: Step the f#ck back.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Power K.

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1. The New Deal was a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln. Ratified by Parliament on the eve of the Kid Dynamite-Little Mac World Major Minor Circuit Championship Bout in 1986, it declared all Northern slaves to be free people. “Okay, guys,” said Lincoln at the weigh-in. “New Deal. No more slaves. What is this, 1862? We look like a bunch of dicks.”

2. In 1997, any dollar amount above $750,000 was known as “Limp Bizkit money.”

3. No it isn’t.

4. Pick a language, Belgium. You sound like a bunch of dicks.

5. Don’t turn this into a religious thing. Don’t you dare. Just lighten up and stop it. You sound like a bunch of dicks.

6. Wait, did I just say we?

7. Shrug.

8. Steering into the skid.

9. Sounds like a goblin sword, making that two Harry Potter references in the same paragraph. Avada Kedavra