Ok, so i'll come right out and say it. I don't know who to cheer for Friday night. I am, as most of you are, a DIE-HARD Card fan. I live for this stuff. I correct the guy sitting in front of me when he says that Kuric is only a Junior, that Charlie Strong played at South Carolina, that Josh Chichester is "like" 6'6", that Peyton Siva is is only 5'8".
I helped make Bullet the hottest athlete on the planet. I froze/baked on the Aluminum bleachers at old Cardinal Stadium. I signed the petition to retire Dejuan Wheat's Jersey. I sat in the nosebleeds in St. Louis in '05, I froze my ass off in Memphis on multiple New Year's Eves. I watched LaBradford Smitth patrol the floor of Freedom Hall. I never got to see Hunter Cantwell's bloody nose because my seat in the Gator Bowl was too far away to see that kind of gruesome detail.
But I don't know what I'm going to do Friday night. You see I'm in a very peculiar situation, something that only a few people ever have to deal with. My Alma Mater is playing my Alma Mater. I grew up a hardcore U of L fan, but in the late 90's had absolutely no interest in attending the school, or any school in the state. Nothing against the institutions in the Commonwealth, but I wanted to get a little further from home, and decided to attend the best school that would accept me. So I ended up at Vanderbilt.
When I got there I knew nothing of the sporting culture of Vanderbilt except that it pretty much sucked. I remember my freshman year football season when I was introduced to the futility of Commodore sports. As I said before I had been to tons of sporting events in my life. While I was at St. X, we won 2 state FBall championships and went to the Sweet 16 in BBall. I competed in state track meets and cheered as my friends won swimming titles year after year.
But at Vandy, there was no cheering. My freshman year, the Tennessee Titans were still playing in Vanderbilt Stadium because the Coliseum had yet to be completed. My Commodores were something like 0-8 heading into a game against a putrid also 0-8 pre-Lou Holtz South Carolina team. Miraculously, we won...and stormed the field. Unfortunately the Titans had a game in the stadium the next day and the Vandy PD was not about to let the students tear down the goalposts. So with pepper spray and billy clubs they beat down our jubilation. The next week, when we beat and equally awful Duke team, we completed our celebration from the week before and tore down the goal posts and planted them on alumni lawn. Only Vandy rushes the field after beating Duke...in football.
The next 4 years were filled with pretty much the same. A few highs, and many lows. The highs (out side of the frat house) were limited to the basketball exploits of such greats as Dan "The Vapor" Langhi, Matt Freije, and Brendan Plavich. The Dores were feisty during my time there and definitely were a good substitute for the awful Cardnal baskeball teams we had during the same time (remember the 12-20 team during Crum's last year). When Pitino came to Louisville and Stallings replaced Jan Van Bredakoff at Vandy, I started cheering for 2 winning programs.
I clearly remember me and my roommates going nuts watching on ESPN during the closing seconds of the epic Tennessee comeback game (Vandy fans hate UT as much as UL fans hate Kentucky - but there's only about 72 Vandy fans outside of campus in Nashville so no one ever notices). It was time like those that set the course for what I am dealing with today.
I followed the 4 greatest years of my life (if you can't say that agout you undergrad college experience, you really missed the boat) with the 4 toughest by enrolling at U of L Dental School. I will be paying for my U of L education for the next 25 years, and the yearly donation I send for my season tickets means that I have a considerable stake in the success of the school and its athletic teams. But that doesn't mean I can turn my back on a place that provided me with so many memories. A place that helped make me a man. A place that I will never forget.
So with that said, I come to you my Chronicloids and ask for you blessing. I always said to myself that if the schools ever played that I would cheer for the team that the game means to most to. And tommorow, Vandy needs me more. There are on the verge of becoming one of the biggest letdowns in College Basketball this season. The losses to Cleveland State and Xavier have them on the verge of dropping out of the top 25. The suspension of Ezeli completely ruinied their flow and possibly has ruined what was once a promising season. Plus, I don't think that Vandy can beat Louisville.
The Louisville pressure will force a weak ball handler, Brad Tinsley, into multiple turnovers. Guys like John Jenkins and Jeff Taylor are highly skilled, but epically soft. Steve Tcheingang is a poor man's Gorgui. The only spots that they might give us trouble is Lance Goulbourne and Rod Odom. Chane will have to extend way out to the perimiter and guard those guys due to thewir ability to hit the outside shot and they are both big enough to give him trouble on the inside. Regardless he is an elite talent and will be able to handle them. Vandy will have to shoot lights out to beat U of L, which is entirely possible, but with the way Pitino has them playing defense seems less and less likely.
So if you see me in the back of section 102 wearing Gold don't dump you beer on me. I am just a wolf in sheep's clothing. I'd love to see the Cards run out to 13-0 before we beat down UK in Lexington, but I also much pull for the underdog on Friday. Go Cards, God Dores, Screw Kentucky.