Is a Kinder, Gentler UK-U of L Rivalry on the Horizon?
Among the many questions that swirled around upon the dismissal of Rick Pitino as the head coach of the University of Louisville's basketball team was the one regarding the future status of the UK/U of L rivalry and its continued degree of "oomph."
Kentucky and Louisville have been archrivals seemingly forever, even IF they didn't begin playing annually until 1983.
And during those days when Pitino was looking down just 70-something miles down Interstate 64 at UK head coach John Calipari, it was deemed the greatest rivalry in all of college basketball. And some said in all of sports.
That was because of the reported strained relationship between Pitino and Calipari.
(Neither has ever said, outright, that he can't stand the other. But, then again, I'm not sure either has ever DENIED the continued belief among so many that they don't get along.)
And despite the fact that Calipari went 8-2 against Pitino during their overlap, the rivalry remained intense, heated.
Enter Chris Mack, the Cardinals' new head coach, coming off a successful stint at Xavier.
Mack has never attended or coached a school that has had ANY type of rivalry connection to Kentucky.
(Odd, considering Xavier is in Cincinnati, a quick 83 mile drive from Lexington.)
But, no, there isn't a built-in history of animus between Mack and UK.
And, as per a blog from A Sea of Blue's James Streble, Mack's "everyman" style would make it hard for folks--even those clad head to toe in BLUE--to find something to dislike.
Mack even managed to avoid any hint of the bitterness of the rivalry in a press conference.
Let's see what happens. Rivalries usually maintain a certain level of "bite," but here's a coach who doesn't have a history with Calipari. (Not that I know of; they might be friends, but, again, they might only have a passing professional relationship.)
Is that going to reduce the "bite" to a "nibble?"