Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sports Talk: The Move of the Governor's Cup

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published Sept. 18, 2013.   
27-13. Was it the score you were expecting?

Cards or Cats fan, I feel it’s okay to admit that Louisville was the favored team in this year’s Governor’s Cup, so UofL coming out with another win was not of great surprise.

Unless watching with a group of devoted fans, I tend to root for the underdog in the Kentucky-Louisville meetings. Part of what makes rivalries great is that no matter how favored one team is, you tend to see a good game out of it. I know Louisville has potential for a great season, so in reality I did not want a loss on their record; however, I desperately wanted the Cats to put arrogant Cardinal fans in their place.

The teams’ 20th meeting this past Saturday closed out an era of the Governor’s Cup. Beginning next year the rivals will have their meeting at the end of the season rather than as an early season highlight.

As an Ohio State Buckeye fan, I’ve grown used to the epic Michigan throw down taking place as the finale of the season, and personally, find this change in the Bluegrass’s two rival schools’ schedules to be an exciting move.

What I love about a rivalry game is that all bets are off and even this past weekend proved that. Sure, the favored team did come out on top, but reality is Louisville should have been able to run away with the game from the first quarter and they did not.

The beauty of ending the season with your most precious rival is the fact that for fans this game, 99% of the time, matters more than any other game you play through the season—even a bowl game or defending a #1 ranking. And for whatever reason, even if one school is number one and the other has had an awful season, the anxieties leading up to the rival game maintain because all bets are off. The favored team is a fool to go in believing the game is in the bag.

While blow outs occur, it’s not uncommon to see the underdog give the opponent a run for their money even when there is no reason for it. Believe me… As an OSU fan who saw a streak of triumphant years under Jim Tressel, when that weekend in late November rolled around, no matter the Ohio State record compared to Michigan’s, the worst of the worst fears crept to mind: that that stinkin’ Michigan could potentially completely spoil your successful season.

Stats and records play a different role in this season-ending rivalry experience. Each team has solid proof of their talent and abilities due to previous games, but this almost raises the stakes of the big rivalry game. Expectations are that much higher, especially if you are with the favored team.

Since I am not the hardcore Cats or Cards fan, I had the The Kentucky Sports Rivalry Facebook page pose the question to followers about their feelings on this change. It sounds like a mixed review, but one thing is certain: the rivalry will not be lessened!

“I'm excited to see two teams who are more developed and experienced come together for this epic meeting. I think having more than two games under their belts will prove for a more interesting game.” -Michelle Delk/Cards Fan

“I like it. It could end bowl hopes for each team, either not getting in one or not going to the one you want to. It will add to the rivalry. For years Tennessee has been our last game and believe me if there is one team I hate more than UT it's UL, but I love the rivalry! I like the move. Go CATS!” -Matthew Richardson/Cats Fan

“I’m down on the move. The first game of the season gave both teams unrivaled air time. Moving it to the end of the season will only be a good move if both teams remain relevant in the future, otherwise it'll be lost amongst the Bama/AU's and OU/UM's. Nobody is going want to watch a 10-2 team play a 2-10 team or two 2-10's play each other.” -Josh Watson/Cards Fan

“Be a great way to end a non-bowl bid season for either team.” –Joshua Lynn/Cats Fan

I have mixed feelings on the whole situation. I LOVED it as the first game because it made the entire off-season filled with hopes, anticipation, and smack talk between each side.  I also like the move to make it fall in line with the more traditional and storied rivalries. My fear is that with Kentucky being such a basketball-centric state, and with the game falling INSIDE basketball season is that the football game will kind of be an afterthought. It will be interesting to see how my Cards handle it after having to kind of experience what UK does every year in actually playing tougher teams week-in and week-out instead of only a game or two a season. Both teams will have to survive the injury bug after being "battle-tested" so to speak.” –Chris Edwards/Cards Fan

“I think it's really cool, especially for UK fans that don't really have high expectations for football anyway, that game that means the most to the fans will now feel like a kind of championship game at the end of the season.” -Ben Short/Cats Fan

“It's still going to be a huge game no matter when it's played. Every one in the state watches this game and always will. It may lose some of the attention it gets from ESPN, but it will always be the best time of year for football fans in the bluegrass state. Except for Western fans. The best time of the year for them is stomping UK and we all get a good laugh out of it! GO CARDS!!” -John Casey/Cards Fan

 “I like the move simply because it gives UL fans more time to think up excuses if they lose.” -Jared Hatter/Cats Fan

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