From a fanbase perspective, Kentucky vs. Louisville is now the most intense rivalry in the nation. That state is splintered between red and blue devotees, and we're approaching the latest iteration of the rivalry. Kentucky will host Louisville on Dec. 28. It should be a great game, and I can't wait to watch it.
I bring this up now, 10 days away from the game, because the Cardinals won by 30 Tuesday night over Missouri State. As the game drew to a close, fans started chanting "BEAT UK!" Nevermind the fact their team still has one more game (against FIU) to play before Kentucky Week is in full effect.
But that didn't stop the media from asking players about the looming Big Blue battle. And Kevin Ware just doesn't care. To him and most players, it's not a rivalry, he said. You can hear the context of his quote below in the video above, and you can tell: He's sick of the questions and talk about Kentucky.
"It gets old; it's boring. It's just another game," Ware said. "Nobody's from here except a couple guys on the team. We really don't get into the whole UK-Louisville rivalry. It's just another game for us. A lot of people take it to that further extent, all the UK and U of L bashing each other. And even with a lot of stuff that they put on us this year, we really don't care that Kentucky exists. We just look at them as another school."
The dirty little secret: Ware's saying what most players in this rivalry believe. It's probably fun to an extent to be indoctrinated into something so intense, but in reality, most of the players aren't from Kentucky and didn't grow up with a devotion to either program. Players play. On the oft chance we have players truly invested in a rivalry, that makes it all the better.
But the bedrock of this clash exists between and for the fans. The fact Rick Pitino and John Calipari aren't texting buddies adds an element that enhances the rivalry, but really, these things have always been about the fans. Ware's just one of the few willing to speak out of school on it. And in doing so, he'll ignite the Kentucky fan base even more.
"We really don't care that Kentucky exists." Quite a burn, Kevin, even if it wasn't intended with malice.