Eric Crawford of the Courier-Journal has written an article detailing the on-going media battle between UK's John Calipari and Louisville's Rick Pitino. In this installment of their heated rivalry, the two coaches seem to be dueling, not with pistols at 20 paces, but rather with slogans they have both publicly tossed out over the last few weeks.
Wildcat leader Calipari has offered up the "Kentucky Effect" as an explanation of why the school has had so many players drafted by the NBA over the last two years. Pitino, never one to be outdone by his neighbor, has countered his former friend, now hated foe, with his own catch-phrase, the cryptic "Louisville First." The meaning? ... well, I'm not exactly sure what RP is implying with this offering, which is why I feel compelled to contribute my help to the UofL skipper in an effort to discover exactly what Pitino means by "Louisville First."
It could mean, UofL was the first school from the Commonwealth to hire a re-tread former UK head coach to lead the 'Cards. By re-tread, which is meant in the nicest, most sincere way possible, I mean a coach whose best days are in the rear-view mirror, tantalizing those UofL backers still deliriously searching for "good Rick."
It could mean, UofL is the first choice of those not recruited by Kentucky.
It could mean, UofL was the first of the two schools since 1922 to score less than 50 points in the 'Dream Game." And the 'Cards did it not once, but twice -- In 1984 the Cards fell 65-44 to UK, and in 2000 UofL scored only 46 points to Kentucky's 76.
It could mean, UofL was the first of the two programs, in the modern era of college basketball, to lose to the other by 30+ points, and my golly, the Cards have "accomplished" that feat that twice -- First in 1987 by a count of 85-51 (that's 34 points for those Card fans who also read A Sea of Blue, but have trouble with subtraction), and again in the aforementioned 2000 "Dream Game," 76-46 (that's 30 points for those Card fans who also read A Sea of Blue, but have trouble with subtraction). To answer the question I know you're asking: No, the 'Cats have never lost by more than 30 to the vile Cards.
It could mean, UofL was the first school super 'Cat Rex Chapman executed the tomahawk dunk on. The terrific freshman, on his way to 26-points in UK's 85-51 blowout victory in December 1986, bedazzled the Cards with all manner of dunks and long-range shots in yet another sad UofL setback.
It could mean, UofL was the first school former 'Cat Cedric Jenkins tipped in a miss at the buzzer against ... giving UK a nasty-good 76-75 victory over the Cards in December of 1987.
It could mean, UofL was the first program in the history of collegiate athletics to have a head coach nabbed red-handed, red-faced, and dead-red in a very public place, in a very compromising position, with a woman not his wife. (This is the absolute nicest way I could relate Pitino's very public humiliation).
It could mean, UofL was the first football program to completely over-blow, over-hype, and just generally over-fawn over their team, only to witness said team tumble violently back to reality when head coach Bobby Petrino left for the NFL, and later the Arkansas Razorbacks -- Also complicit: The Louisville Courier-Journal (mainly the pathetic Jerry Brewer, and the should-have-known-better Rick Bozich).
It could mean, UofL was the first football program to leave one bad pigskin conference (C-USA) for another bad football conference (Big East).
It could mean this -- Terrence Jennings, after not hearing his name called on NBA Draft night, could be heard uttering, "darn it, I should not have gone to Louisville first."
It could mean, UofL is the best university in Jefferson County (although Spalding, Sullivan, Bellarmine, McKendree, and Webster Universities would disagree).
It could mean -- UofL was the first school to receive recipricated love from one Marquis Teague, making the top-5 player a long-time Louisville lean, that is until Teague, in a fit competency, regained his senses and opted to be the next point guard prodigy to play for Kentucky ... On, on, UK!
It could mean, UofL was the first school to beg, plead, and get downright litigious about playing its biggest "rival" in the (basketball) regular season, and when the game, the "Dream Game," finally became reality, proceeded to lose 65.5% of the time (UK 19, UofL 10) -- hammer, meet nail. I think the sage one says this: Be careful what you wish for.
It could mean, UofL was the first school to have its football stadium named after a pizza pie.
It could mean, UofL was the first school to a) enroll Derrick Caracter, b) give Derrick Caracter 1,324 chances to not screw-up, and finally, c) dismiss Derrick Caracter (or at least let it be known he wasn't welcome) even though the school continuously enabled the "talented" bad actor because of his supposed basketball skill. Caracter update: I'm semi-happy to report DC averaged 5.2 minutes per game this past season with the Los Angeles Lakers (and also served as Kobe Bryant's bimbo screener).
But, what I think Pitino really means by "Louisville First" is that the Cards, since he took over the program in 2002, have lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament three times, and lost on the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament a total of five times (out of eight years of participation), truly making Louisville first (weekend flame-outs).
Thanks for reading and Go 'Cats!