Column: Grabbing the Tigers by the tail

By on October 6, 2008

By Gavin Lapaille

There is something about rivalries that really gets me going.
You know what I’m talking about. Those teams that when they come into Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, it doesn’t matter what the record of the two teams are, or who the big name players might be–it’s going to be a good game.
Obviously, the University of Louisville’s main rival is Kentucky. If there were a sport where the objective was to throw as many socks in a hamper as quickly as possible, U of L fans would be obsessed with beating UK every single year.
After that, it gets cloudy when trying to think of big rivals for the Cardinals’ football team. West Virginia? It’s getting there, but nowhere near what it may be in a few years. Cincinnati? Maybe, but the battle for the Keg of Nails doesn’t bring near the excitement the Governor’s Cup does. South Florida? Pittsburgh? Syracuse?
You see what I’m getting at. The U of L football team needs rivalry games. Having one a year isn’t nearly enough. The one significant drawback of switching from Conference USA to the Big East was that we left the majority of our long-time rivals in the rear view mirror.
I remember back in the old days when I used to circle my calendar whenever the Cards would play Southern Miss or East Carolina, because there was no doubt those games were going to bring a lot of excitement. Things would happen in those games I had never seen before and haven’t seen since. Most of all, I always felt like U of L had accomplished something more than normal when they played one of those teams and came out victorious.
That’s why I’m so excited to see a team on the schedule that the majority of Cardinal fans already hate. The Louisville-Memphis rivalry may have its roots in basketball, but it’s carried over into football.
And U of L football could use a little excitement right now. Fans are getting disgruntled and wondering what the future might bring. Our status as a bowl-eligible team is certainly up in the air.
A win over a long-time rival could be just what the doctor ordered. Sure, beating Memphis wouldn’t mean a whole lot – they aren’t exactly sneaking up on anyone’s BCS radar right now, but that doesn’t make this game any less interesting.
I can promise you, Memphis will want to win Friday more than they normally do, simply because it’s Louisville on the opposite sidelines. As long as the Cards bring the same mindset, this game could shock some life back into the team after a very tough conference loss at home.
That’s what rivalry games can do for a program. They can make players, fans and coaches excited for a game that on paper, really shouldn’t be that interesting. Rivalry games grab ESPN and the rest of the nation’s attention when there are definitely other games out there that feature squads with better records and more at stake for the teams.
So throw everything out the window this week. The Cards need to win in order to build some momentum for the remainder of the conference season. Memphis would love nothing more than to help spoil our season that much more.
And that’s what makes rivalry games so much fun.

About Michael Kennedy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *