By now you have heard the news.
That’s right. The Bluegrass’ bragging rights will be up for grabs within one month from each other starting last year.
Incredible. The state might implode next holiday season.
So why this change now? Is it a good thing?
The reasoning behind the schedule switch comes from requests from
ESPN the ACC and SEC. The Governor’s Cup showdown will now be placed alongside three other ACC-SEC rivalry games: Florida vs Florida State; South Carolina vs Clemson; and Georgia vs Georgia Tech. Expect the four letter network to place the match-up in a tidy “Rivalry Week” wrapping paper.
So here are five reasons why this change is a good one.
1. (Despite popular belief) the change will give the game a bigger profile
Yes, having the only “meaningful” game during the first week of the season is nice. However, this only happens when Louisville hosts. This newly signed deal, through 2016, firmly places the game as the last week of the season. No switching depending on where the game is held. Having the cooperation of ESPN is paramount here. Don’t expect to see the match on ESPN Classic anytime soon.
Upping the national profile of the rivalry is key, and having the basketball and football battles could help convince some people that Louisville Vs Kentucky deserves to be regarded in the same group as Ohio State-Michigan and Duke-North Carolina.
2. The possibility for increased stakes
Imagine Louisville is undefeated and has already clinched a berth to the ACC championship, but now they have to win at Commonwealth Stadium to ensure they’ll stick around in the national playoff conversation. That would have much bigger stakes than a game to open up the season. What if UK is making a magical run to the SEC championship, a crushing loss in Papa John’s Stadium could derail Kentucky’s hopes. It is an exciting prospect to think that this game could mean much more than strictly bragging rights.
Some critics have already suggested that the game quality would be down given both teams (especially Kentucky) going through the rigors of the season. However, it could be argued that having teams in late season form could be just as exciting if not more. There isn’t much evidence to suggest that the quality of the game would be hurt by the change.
3. The end of the “summer trash talk war”
This may be a negative for some, but the absurdity between the two sides has reached an all time high. With both teams having more games to worry about, players have less chance to have get into trouble. Having the rivalry so soon has given an “excuse” for players to say things that may bite them in the behind later. I’m sure both Charlie Strong and Mark Stoops would enjoy having one less thing to worry about.
4. Proximity to basketball game will make rivalry more fierce
Kentucky’s collective blood pressure is bound to go up every holiday season. Sure, it will make things easier if your rooting interest loses in November, you only have a month until they can redeem themselves. This also will eliminate the classic “wait until basketball season” excuse.
Early indications show that the game will take place the day after Thanksgiving. Imagine the arguments that will ensue over turkey and stuffing. Fights will break out, family feuds will ensue, its going to be incredible.
5. The yearly tradition will continue
The biggest news of all, is that this rivalry is going anywhere for the near future. With talk ramping up about the SEC considering some changes to their schedules, there were many concerns that the Governor’s Cup would soon die. However, that clearly isn’t the case and it wouldn’t be advantageous to say that this move now links the rivalry game with its new companions. Odds are if Florida-Florida State doesn’t end soon, neither will Louisville-Kentucky.
There was a period of time where this fact was in doubt and I’m sure fans on both sides have to be excited about it. Not having the Governor’s Cup would be a real shame and its a great relief it didn’t have to come to that yet. While the game wasn’t made for a long term deal, its clear that its security is a lot less in doubt.
With this year’s Governor’s Cup a little over a month away; its great that we can rest easy about the long term security of this battle. Critics will continue to question this move, and its clear that it may not have been popular among some members of both parties; but in the long run the benefits will outweigh any negatives.
However, expect holiday relations between Cardinal and Wildcat fans to be at an all time low.