It’s a new college football season. Stage lights are coming up and a fan-delicious sequence is in store as we pump-up the drama.
It may come as surprise to some whose sunglasses are Kentucky blue tint or Cardinal red, but the Governor’s Cup is only the end of the beginning for Season 2012.
First, a perfect Thursday evening can be pizza and party and a parking spot in front of the tube. ESPN offers an early look into the Big Dog that wags college football — the SEC. No. 9 South Carolina opens against a Vanderbilt team that just may have given up waiting for a train wreck and believes it can cause one. Here it is, an introductory chance for respect for the ’Dores.
On Friday, (any college game ought be outlawed from playing on high school night), the villain is a good fit for Big Blue Nation. Tennessee opens against North Carolina State in the Georgia Dome. Side show? You bet. Fans north and south of Tazewell and Jellico can get a first read on the SEC coach’s Hot Seat list — Derek Dooley in Knoxville or Joker Phillips in Lexington?
First stop on Saturday? Maybe the new L.T. (Smith) in Bowling Green. Western Kentucky hosts Austin Peay in the next chapter of Willie Ball.
And, there’s a game in West Lafayette, Indiana, where OVCfavorite Eastern Kentucky “has a shot” against a Purdue team that survived Middle Tennessee 27-24 in last year’s opener.
Amid the, dare I use the word, hoopla, college football in the Bluegrass may be best exemplifi ed by the opener in Georgetown, where the Georgetown College Tigers open against (ready for this?) Bluefield State. Perfect.
How good does it get for UofL?
• For Louisville, there are higher than high hopes for a season of such promise that pundits already rank the Cardinals 25th in the country before the first coin toss.
• A look at the Cards’ schedule leaves us to wonder which writer will be first to attach “run the table” to a Charlie Strong headline?
• Honeymoon. UofL fans are schmoozing Charlie Strong so close, boss Tom Jurich had better start planning to pay Rick Pitino more money to keep him.
How good does it get for Kentucky?
• UK is going into the game as the 14-point underdog while the win margin in this series the last three years has been one touchdown or less.
• Win one for coach. The “get rid of Joker!” chant could be kept at a low rumble with a win in Louisville. Manageably quiet until, oh, Big Blue Madness.
• Alas, Joker Phillips may have embraced already the grumpy bunker mentality. At a luncheon in Louisville last week he slapped alums in Jefferson County with a glove: “Big Blue Nation, I’m challenging you. You’re either with us or against us.”
Which of the two sentences, you think, will sell the most tickets?
Kentucky vs. Louisville: A Down Side?
Mitch Barnhart and Tom Jurich. Using his Indiana-take-itor leave-it approach, Barnhart (as John Calipari’s agent) stopped UK’s basketball series with the Hoosiers because Cal decided it put UK at a disadvantage.
Barnhart should apply the same strategy to Jurich who runs the Governor’s Cup series.
Barnhart-to-Jurich: Move the game to near or end of the season. Take it or leave it.
Governor’s Cup Pick
In spite of predictions, Kentucky prevailed in the last two games played at Papa John Stadium, but Louisville should win Sunday. Why/how? Leaving the details to you – Cardinals running game and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be the difference makers.
I hope Kentucky wins because …
• The Wildcats are the Underdog.
• Long range, Flagship U. needs a win more than UofL.
• Could save a good coach his job.
Note. There was a time when UK linemen Donte Rumph and Mister Cobble seemed to have no chance of playing D-I football because neither handled his academics responsibilities. Today, the starting defensive tackles are in school and team leaders.
• Schedules. Kentucky, without LSU, Alabama, Auburn or Texas A&M on the schedule, is still picked last again in the SEC … including Vanderbilt. If Louisville is as good as advertised, the Cardinals could run the table.
• Recruiting. A successful program at Kentucky could stop the bleeding of losing high schoolers to out-of-state football factories. Southern Cal is latest to get a recruiting foothold in the Bluegrass State. Tee Martin?
And so it goes.