Kill Them Until They are Dead: How Kentucky Saved Louisville Football

If Oberyn Martell had been a Power K reader his head might be a head instead of cherry cobbler; but, he isn't, and Gregor Clegane, the all but fallen Mountain, lying prone before the old gods and the new, mustered the remainder of his not unformidable strength and administered to Oberyn the most definitive Hikes Point Handshake since Aaron Harrison’s first encounter with fear, in the process obliterating my stance that drowning is the worst way to die. What Aaron Harrison and I know, what Oberyn didn’t, is this, my lifelong tenet regarding competition, Xbox and any form of spider: kill them until they are dead. 


It's been pretty well documented that before Howard Schnellenberger came to the University of Louisville, their football program was on its way out. One of the things Schnellenberger did, along with former UL AD Fartmouth Jones, was pester C.M. Newton and the unmitigated disaster that was Bill Curry into playing an annual football series with UK, claiming some garbage about it being good for football in the state even though Kentucky had absolutely zero to gain and Louisville had absolutely zero to lose.

I know you know this, it isn't news, and my premise here isn't only that "Kentucky saved Louisville football" because that's a) just part of the story and b) part of the story that's not really up for debate: the Kentucky series played a key role in the survival of Louisville football. Kentucky was (and is) the state university. It got the funding, had the historical success, and Louisville was (and is) a commuter school that smells like urine and Joop (pronounced poop). My premise is this, from the mouth of Bill Curry: "...But it became to a point where it became a moral thing, just the right thing to do."

Bill Curry was the worst, right? Right, but not as a human because it was the right thing to do.

But, kill them until they are dead, right, handsome? 

Right. Except when you shouldn't. The fact was (and is), UL, as an athletics program and as a university, cannot survive without UK. We call them Little Brother because they are, but the thing is most powerful state schools have a little brother. Alabama has Auburn. Michigan has Michigan State (don’t let the “State” fool you; Sparty is Little Brother). Texas has the rest of Texas. Penn State has Pitt. The list goes on. The difference between us and our little brother versus other comparable dynamics is the inexplicable clash of cultures that occurs within the borders of our own state; namely, the clash of urban versus normal human being cultures as those cultures exist within the world of college athletics. Take the gear off two Alabama and Auburn fans, two Michigan and Michigan State fans--would you be able to tell who was who? Now take da jerzee off a UL fan and the 8-time National Champion t-shirt off a Kentucky fan. You know damn good and well who's who. My point is that despite the Louisville fan base being a bunch of clowns individually, the well being of their university, both academically and athletically--because the two are inextricably linked--is necessary for the state's biggest city, and therefore the state, to thrive, therefore Kentucky had, I believe, a moral obligation to help Louisville survive. 


Fast forward to January or February or whenever Da Ville hired Bobby Petrino. Again. After he "burned all his bridges" within the Louisville athletic department. After he (allegedly--and, if so, justifiably) got worked by the fiancee of a female staffer at Arkansas, making him now the second coach (out of two major programs) Louisville has in powerful positions to be caught acting inappropriately outside their marriage. After Kentucky wouldn't give him the time of day. Look, personally, I neither care nor balk at these actions--I'm not a moralist and I'm certainly not perfect--except when I see them condoned so universally and unequivocally by a school who, in the early 90s, pressured Kentucky, who, again, had nothing to competitively gain by playing Louisville every year, into an annual series on the grounds of moral duty. Except when I see that same fan base say they have no problem with the morality of hiring of Bobby Petrino--they just want to win. Except when I see that same fan base pass judgment on Kentucky's past transgressions (of which, let's not kid ourselves, there are plenty), haphazardly throwing around the term cheater--cheater!--and doing so without any sense of irony or self-awareness. That's when I get my fur raised, and that’s the crux of why I loathe Louisville.

I can live with disparity in the demographics of our fan bases—I grew up in Louisville. And I can live with helping to save their football program—I just said it was the morally decent thing to do, and it’s childish to begrudge them any success they’ve had since. What I can’t abide, though, is the walking hypocrisy that is their imaginary moral (and even more laughably) intellectual high ground. Throughout my life I’ve found that the people with whom I get along the least are those who have grossly miscalculated and miscalibrated their wit or their intelligence or, most importantly, their kindness, and I cannot think of a fan base in the country with puffery so disproportionate to its accomplishments than that which represents the University of Louisville.

I don’t deny that these are harsh words, and I don’t write them casually (although please do understand that while analogous, sports should in no way ever be considered life and/or death, even in Kentucky), but after 32 years of listening to dilettantes blather, I can’t help but let burst the part of me that wishes we would have been less Oberyn Martell and more Tony Soprano because when given the chance to extinguish a mortal enemy, one should kill them. Kill them until they are dead.


Related: Bobby Petrino: Still a D!ck, Blood out of a Turnip: Finding Kentucky's Six Wins