You may have noticed this week that the hair on your chest was a bit thicker, that your voice was a bit deeper and more intimidating, and that your 15-inch pythons have miraculously been upgraded to 16s. The reason, of course, is that we're a mere 48 hours away from the manliest of manly days in the Derby City, the day the Keg of Nails comes out of hiding and makes all other rivalry trophies shit their plaques.
I've never tried to hide it, I love the Keg of Nails. Officially, it's my fourth favorite keg, just behind keg of beer, keg of money and keg of Preston Knowles.
The keg will bear its burly mug for the 51st time Saturday afternoon when the Louisville Cardinals and Cincinnati Bearcats battle for the right to hoist it in triumph for a solid 15 minutes, and then quickly put him back in his case because the dude's a bad ass and does not enjoy being touched.
According to Wikipedia, the trophy is a replica of a keg used to ship nails. The exchange between the two programs is believed to have been initiated by fraternity chapters on the UC and UofL campuses, signifying that the winning players in the game were "tough as nails."
The present keg is actually a replacement for the original award, which was misplaced by Louisville, ironically lost during some construction of office facilities. It is adorned with the logos of both schools and the scores of the series games.
Cincinnati players, excited and frightened by the sensation of touching the keg for the first time in nearly a decade, damaged it in 2008. According to Art Carmody, there are no actual nails (or anything) inside of it. He also ruined Santa Claus for me.
Unattributed facts: The keg changed the tide of World Wars I and II, brought Hemingway out of depression and inspired the cure for polio. It was once entirely consumed by Howard Schnellenberger.
Let's admit it, after having it around for half a decade, we took the Keg of Nails for granted. We made jokes that were in poor taste in front of its friends, openly flirted with the Little Brown Jug, and used store-bought nails from Home Depot to hang up that picture of us with the Governor's Cup Trophy.
I think I speak for all of us when I say that we've changed. We've seen what life without the Keg of Nails is like and, quite frankly, it's miserable.
It's time for the second major rivalry statement of the Charlie Strong era to be made. It's time for The Keg of Nails to come home to Louisville.