Nothing like a little trash talk in the summertime to get the hatred simmering between two long-time rivals.
Louisville and Kentucky are doing their best to get the blood boiling with months still to go between their showdown in the season opener Sept. 2. What is interesting about this latest flareup in the bitter feud between the two schools is that the trash talk actually involves football.
You know as well as I do that basketball has meant way, way more to these schools. The rivalry was taken to a new level when they met in the Final Four in March. That might only be tangentially related to this latest skirmish. What might have more to do with it is the seeming reversal of fortunes between the two football programs.
Louisville is on the way up, with several outlets already picking the Cardinals as the preseason choice to win the Big East. The Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak to the Wildcats in their meeting last year, in Lexington no less. Kentucky, on the other hand, went 5-7 last year and checks in at No. 13 over on the ESPN SEC blog's post-spring power rankings. No surprise to think Louisville will be favored to win again when the season opens.
Now on to some of the recent shots launched between the two sides. Kentucky has purchased a billboard above a Louisville campus building, drawing the ire of many. The billboard reads, "Football Time in the Bluegrass" and features a Kentucky football player on it.
Jason Schlafer, a senior associate athletics director at Kentucky, explained to the Lexington Herald-Leader that the placement of the billboard was just a coincidence. This is what he said to the newspaper:
"We didn't even consider the proximity of that billboard to another campus when we made the decision to purchase the space."
"We bought a billboard in a high-profile location that fit our rotational needs in a high-traffic interstate location. Their campus is on an interstate and we happen to buy outdoor advertising in high-traffic areas like interstates."
Kentucky and Louisville do purchase billboard space around their rival campuses, but forgive me for being a little skeptical when Schlafer says that the proximity to campus had nothing to do with where the Kentucky sign was placed this year.
Then the next shot came from Louisville receiver DeVante Parker, who tweeted last week, "Sept. 2nd, the game shouldn't even be close." Let's not forget about the Charlie Strong method of motivation and the reports that Kentucky players broke their huddle during spring football with the chant, "1-2-3 Beat Louisville!" There also is now a "Beat Louisville" wall in its football training facility.
How much more can the buildup grow? We still have 70-plus days to go before the season begins.