Monday, January 17, 2005

Kings of the SEC... again.

As a Kentucky fan, it's becoming easier to root for Louisville for a number of reasons. First, since Kentucky snapped its 2-year losing streak against Pitino, cheering for a Louisville that knows its place as the Commonwealth's "little brother" is much easier than following last year's Louisville squad, who ripped a sure-thing victory from Kentucky's hands in Rupp despite the brilliant, last-minute 4-point-play by Gerald Fitch.

Secondly, and more important, imagining Louisville's season next year -- as one of four CUSA teams immigrating to the much stronger and more storied Big East -- gives the River City a greater national platform for airtime and recruiting.

The shuffling of the conferences has left the once-stable conference system into a dynamic free-for-all. The once solid groupings are now in fluid disarry. All this must inevitably beg the question: is the SEC the best fit for Kentucky?

Despite Kentucky's mediocre performances in the NCAA tournament since the 1998 championship, the Cats continue to dominate the SEC, which has continued to decline as a basketball conference. Has weak conference play weakened the Cats ability to compete for the national championship?

Kentucky continues to struggle to put 11 student athletes on the football field, making fools of the fans at Commonwealth Stadium over and over and over -- especially in conference play. Remember LSU? Yet, two months later, and it becomes Kentucky's job to carry the reputation of the entire conference. Where is Florida? Where is Alabama? Where is LSU, Arkansas, Georgia? In the toilet, that's where. To be fair, Mississippi State is hanging in at No. 19 despite their loss to Tennessee, and Alabama has a view of the field at No. 22. The two teams play each other this week.

Kentucky is the only SEC team in the Top Ten. The ACC has three.

The ACC fits Kentucky much better for both football and basketball. There is no question that the ACC puts a half dozen teams into serious March Madness contention every year, including, of course, our dear friends at Duke. And while the Blue Devils evoke more hatred and ire in Kentucky than Louisville and Tennessee together, is that any reason to not join their conference? The March match-ups of Kentucky and Duke in 1992 and 1998 are some of the best in both schools' histories. Why not two of these games a season instead of two per decade?

Duking it out with the heavy hitters of the ACC -- UNC, Wake Forest, Maryland, and Duke -- would make the Cats a stronger team come March, and would make a conference title mean something instead of being just another banner hanging from the rafters of Rupp.

And it wouldn't make football season so excrutiating. Kentucky and Duke had identical football records this season (1-7 in the conference, 2-9 overall). What a great conference football rivalry that would be: thousands of fans wearing blue -- all waiting in the cold for basketball season to start.


At 5:58 AM, Blogger DJ said...

Fuck Duke.


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