Kentucky refuses to play Louisville on Labor Day

This is almost unbelievable. .

ESPN has offered to place this year's season opener between the two teams at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in its "Monday Night Football" time slot on Labor Day night. As U of L announced its full 2008 schedule today, head coach Steve Kragthorpe said the Cardinals "would love to do it" and were just waiting for UK's approval.

But Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart told The Courier-Journal this afternoon that the Wildcats won't agree to play that Monday night.

"We're willing to play that game Thursday through Sunday, and we've communicated that to the people at ESPN," Barnhart said. "We're not going to play that on a Monday night and give ourselves that short turnaround on a Saturday game. We're going to have a young team, and we feel it's in the best interest of our program to guard that prep time and that recovery time."

UK plays Norfolk State the following Saturday. U of L also has a game that Saturday, against Tennessee Tech.

"It's a real honor to have an opportunity to play in a traditional prime time slot reserved for Monday Night Football to showcase both of our programs," U of L athletic directory Tom Jurich said in a statement. "We're thrilled that ESPN wants us in this marquee television position. I hope everything works out for this event to showcase the state of Kentucky."

The Louisville/Kentucky game has the chance to be in the same spotlight that Miami and Florida State have shared for the past several years (with the exception of '07 when the Bowden Bowl took over), and you're going to turn it down because you're worried about having only four days to prepare for Norfolk State? For the record, Florida State has played on Labor Day night in each of the last three seasons, and has played a game that Saturday all three times.

My understanding - and perhaps I'm wrong because I've tried to avoid having to hear about this situation as much as possible - was that the agreement which Barnhart fought so assiduously for was based upon the understanding that the home team was the one who got to decide the date of the game. So then what in the world is this?

I never thought I would be saying this, and I hate the fact that it's come to this, but we should drop the series. It's obvious that this is what Kentucky wants, and if it's going to be like this every year - and at this point why should any of us believe that it isn't - then the game is going to become far more trouble than it's worth.

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