Finally. It’s here.
After waiting and talking all spring and summer, fidgeting through two nothing games for each football team, fans now get the real deal: University of Kentucky vs. University of Louisville.
U of L’s Brian Brohm vs. UK’s Andre Woodson, the battle of the Heisman Trophy quarterback candidates.
UK receivers Keenan Burton, Dicky Lyons Jr., and Jacob Tamme vs. U of L’s Harry Douglas, Mario Urrutia, and Gary Barnidge.
U of L’s rushers-by-committee George Stripling, Sergio Spencer, and Anthony Allen vs. UK’s Mr. Everything Rafael Little, Tony Dixon, and Alfonso Smith.
Return men, who can turn a game around in just seconds, are headed by UK’s versatile Little and U of L’s JaJuan Spillman.
Don’t forget the defenders, the guys who don’t often get their names in headlines, but who are the deciders about which team wins and loses. For U of L, no Amobi Okoye or Elvis Dumervil has stepped front and center yet, but candidates include Malik Jackson, Rich Raglin, Earl Heyman, and Lamar Myles. UK defensive standouts are Wesley Woodyard, Johnny Williams, and Micah Johnson.
The glamour boys are Brohm and Woodson. No other state can claim two quarterbacks of their caliber. And both are products of the commonwealth. Brohm is the fourth – and last – male member of his family to be a football star. Daddy Oscar started the dynasty at Flaget High and played at U of L. Brian is his third son to star at Trinity High in Louisville and U of L. Jeff was an outstanding quarterback at U of L, now assistant head coach at U of L. Another brother, Greg, a receiving standout at Trinity and U of L, is director of football operations for the Cardinals.
Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. game at Commonwealth Stadium will be televised live by two stations, WHAS in Louisville and WKYT in Lexington. ESPN Classic, which not many Kentuckians have, also will carry the game. That is the most important thing about the game not being the opener, when ESPN or ESPN2 would have televised it so that the entire nation could have seen it.
But the important thing is that the state’s only Division 1-A teams do play each other. And the names of the two people who brought about this series should be mentioned: former Gov. John Y. Brown and sports columnist Billy Reed, who shamed UK into playing Little Brother. Reed was sports editor of The Courier-Journal when he led a campaign that resulted in UK agreeing to play U of L in both football and basketball.
Everything went swimmingly until UK’s current football coach, Rich Brooks, finally got his way – for this year. Next year when it will be U of L’s turn to be host and decided the date of the game, it will return to its opener status. After that, who knows? Probably UK will insist on a non-opener.
I wish I could remember the first Kentucky-produced quarterback to tell me, “I went to UK because I thought I would be the one to turn the program around.”
But I remember the last, Ernie Lewis of Elizabethtown.
In the glory days since the incomparable Vito “Babe” Parilli, Paducah Tilghman’s Bob Hardy came the closest. He became known as the conqueror of the mighty Tennessee Vols.
Then Flaget’s Rick Norton had some memorable days.
Fran Curci’s Southeastern Conference champions were quarterbacked by a converted lineman, Derrick Ramsey.
Tim Couch, the pride of the mountains from Leslie County, thrilled Wildcat fans, but he didn’t have much help.
This brings us to Andre Woodson, like Lewis from Hardin County. Woodson played at North Hardin and has the best chance to turn around the program since Ramsey. Woodson’s Cats have many more offensive weapons than any team since Parilli’s SEC champs