When Transylvania comes into the hallowed halls of Rupp Arena tomorrow, know that they sport a .500 record against Kentucky.
You all know Jon Scott of BigBlueHistory.net, and if you don't, you will know more about him shortly. Jon is a friend of A Sea of Blue, and we have worked together several times in recent years.
Yesterday, Jon had an article in the Herald-Leader which really deserves attention. In this piece, Jon examines the history of the distant past between the University of Kentucky and Transylvania, two schools that " fought like siblings, which they were given that they were part of the same university after the Civil War."
I'll bet most of you didn't know that Transy and UK were once part of the same school. I know I didn't. But then again, this was a long time before most of us were born, and Kentucky and Transylvania developed a passionate rivalry that has been lost through the intervening years among the changes to both schools.
Time passes, but one thing that never changes is the nature of sports rivalries and the passion it generates among the followers of the adversaries. Jon's article may recall a different time in college sports, but what you see here is that even though this was so "last century" and the idea of women playing hoops in "bloomers" may seem almost comically anachronistic, the passion of partisans in rivalries remains unchanged. The only thing that really changes are the circumstances and social customs that provide a stage for the passion play.
You really need to read the whole article, which is fascinating in many ways. Consider this quote from Jon's piece:
The basketball games were rough with many fights and injuries, although they attracted great interest from the students. Kentucky player Thomson Bryant said about those early games: "We didn't play for championships but for bloody noses."
Imagine playing for "bloody noses" in today's hyper-urbane and politically correct NCAA environment. But even with that said, who can forget the scrum between DeMarcus Cousins and Jared Swopshire a almost three years back when Kentucky took on the Louisville Cardinals?
Times may change, social mores may evolve, but the passion that drives a rivalry never does. Jon does a great job of bringing this point to life in his piece, and even as it recalls a time long past, when you read about what went on, you can almost visualize it in your mind's eye.
We all owe a debt of gratitude to Jon for his continuing efforts not to let Kentucky basketball history fade into obscurity with the years. Every one of these former rivalries, victories and players rarely remembered is a thread in the rich tapestry of the most storied college basketball program in America. Thanks to Jon, moments in time like the Transylvania rivalry will never be forgotten.
So when Transy takes the floor against the Wildcats tomorrow, pour out a small libation to a former passionate rival, and remember that this is a team who's record stands at 7-7 against the Wildcats. Very few schools in America can claim a .500 or better record against Kentucky, but Transylvania is currently one of them.