Two of the most storied basketball programs in college basketball history cannot come to an agreement on continuing a series that is quintessentially college basketball. You can throw in California and Texas when it comes to elite players, but North Carolina is the only state that comes close to Indiana and Kentucky when it comes to being basketball states.
Indiana has its rich history of high school basketball, numerous universities that have had NCAA success or been in the tournament and the Pacers who are up and down, but Indianapolis has a pro team. Kentucky is the only state in the union that can rival Indiana when it comes to a rich high school history, they have numerous universities that have had NCAA success or been in the tournament, and the old Kentucky Colones. When I have traveled over seas, everyone has heard about Indiana basketball and they ask about Kentucky when they realize I am from southern Indiana.
Can the Governors' step in? State legislatures? The people of the two states? I realize there are more important things that politicians should be doing than stepping into whether two college teams should play in the regular season or not (when they decide to get to work doing those things, call me), but this is IU vs. UK. It would be like Duke and North Carolina not playing, or Indiana and Purdue, or UK and Louisville dropping their series.
Does anyone care? I don't hear much complaint. I personally feel it is one of those things from my childhood that I was able to still hold onto as an adult. The cynicism of being an adult goes away for two hours when these two teams play. It reminds me of Randy Wittman and Kyle Macy, Joe B. Hall and Bob Knight, Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Hord, Sam Bowie and Steve Alford, Damon Bailey and Jamal Mashburn, Calbert Cheaney and Walter McCarty. It's Knight slapping Hall on the back of the head, it's Pitino's press, it's Mike Davis running on the floor while the game is still going on, it is Travis Ford's half court shot at the buzzer of halftime, it is Christian Watford's shot at the buzzer at the end of the game.
The two universities played their first games in the 1920's and renewed the series in the 1969-70 season. This series has caused so many great memories for both schools to give this up is a travesty. But again, it might just be me that feels this way. Here in southern Indiana, this is THE game of the year. We often, down here, don't understand the Purdue rivalry as much as we do the UK rivalry. Again, it could be me. I see Michigan State shirts, North Carolina shirts, Duke shirts, whoever is good at the moment shirts, UK shirts, U of L shirts, and IU shirts (where did all these IU fans come from this year?) in this part of the state each year.
Whose fault is it? The game was played on campuses from 1976 - 1986 then moved to Freedom Hall in Louisville and the dome in Indianapolis. I have been to games in domes and on campus and the games on campus are much, much better atmospheres in my opinion. UK wanted to move the games back to campuses a few years ago and now they want them on neutral sites. Coach Calipari says that there are lots of people who want to play them, I agree, but this is Indiana and Kentucky.
Whose fault is it? Reasons I am hearing is that Calipari wants to recruit Indiana more (who can blame him), that Calipari doesn't want to go back to Bloomington again (who can blame him). There were many stories about UK fans being verbally and physicall abused at the IU game in Bloomington this past year, but I am going to bet that UK fans heard more profanity and more were injured after winning the national semi final game and trouble ignited in Lexington by people celebrating. But the game will be played at Lexington this winter what better way to get revenge for the abuse they endured? IU will have a top 5 team coming into Rupp Arena in a hostile atmosphere that could catapault it to a national championship too or keep Cal's undefeated streak at Rupp alive.
Whose fault is it? UK said they would play both games in Indiana, off campus and Coach Crean wants the students to be able to afford the game and be able to travel there. I just cannot believe that it has come to this, that there will be no regular season game next season in one of the greatest rivalries ever and one that is starting to heat up again.
The only thing that might compare to this negative turn of events when it comes to hoops is the Indiana vs. Kentucky high school series coming to an end...and there is serious talk of that.