|John Calipari is beloved by most of Big Blue Nation, but he doesn't even carry more than half his state's vote. (US Presswire)|
Kentucky has the most intense and arguably biggest fan base in college basketball. Why, even now, after that first sentence, I've got UK honks yelling at me for even suggesting the notion their legion is even "arguably" the biggest out there.
Yet within the state, there's obviously a divide -- just passing along a quick note from Public Policy Polling, one of the most trusted sources of polls we have. The service was most notably looking into how presidential candidates would fair in the Bluegrass State come 2016. Turns out, Hillary Clinton stands to do well under current readings. She's favored by 48 percent of the population.
Here's the surprising part: John Calipari beats out Clinton by only 1 percent. This despite the fact two-thirds of the state root for Kentucky over Louisville.
Kentucky fans out number Louisville ones by a 66/17 margin. This is one of the most lopsided rivalries we've ever polled on. John Calipari has a 49/15 favorability rating, a good deal better than Rick Pitino's 44/32. Louisville fans support their school's move to the ACC by a 70/7 margin.
So Calipari comes in, makes an Elite Eight, then a Final Four, then wins the school's eighth national title -- and not even half the state is on his side?
Kentuckians, you are the greatest.
Obviously you'd have to assume, what, nine out of 10 UK fans are pro-Cal? Maybe it's even higher than that, like 98 out of 100. Or even higher. But taking Kentucky residents as a whole, I do find these results intriguing and surprising. If anything, Calipari's clean-up job on the quagmire that was the Billy Gillispie era in Lexington has revived not only the program, but the rivalry with Louisville, and given college basketball two capitals instead of the traditional North Carolina triangle as ground zero for great hoops.
By the way, PPP did some other fact-gathering. Seeing how Cincinnati gropes Kentucky's border to the north, the Bengals are the state's favorite team. And when it comes to whiskey, Jim Beam beats out Jack Daniels, a 20-percent-to-18-percent margin, unsurprising given how Jack is made in Tennessee and Jim comes from Kentucky. Me? I'll take Canadian cough medicine over both. Yeah, I said it.