It is officially Rivalry Week, y’all! And it’s my favorite time of year to stump for my most passionate belief: The “Battle for the Governor’s Cup’s” name sucks and must be changed.
This year’s matchup is an especially exciting year for one of the most heated rivalries in all of college athletics, as both teams are bowl eligible, both teams are evenly rated statistically (Louisville #31 and Kentucky #35 in SP+), and both teams have a lot to play for. Kentucky is trying to finish their “dream” season on a high note and earn an invitation to a respected bowl game after their best start to a season in 71 years was spoiled by a three-game losing streak. Louisville, on the other hand, has been showing improvement and building momentum for next season. A win over Kentucky and/or a bowl win would give Cards fans and national media plenty of lot of excitement about Louisville leading up to the 2022 season as there’s a decent chance the Cardinals return their entire offense next year. The Cards and Cats also haven’t faced each other since the 2019 meeting in Lexington, and there’s a lot of pent up energy between the two fanbases that’s been building up for the last two years. You’ve even got players trash talking on twitter. Those are an awful lot of reasons to be excited for this weekend’s matchup.
The only thing that’s not exciting about the 33rd meeting between the football Cards and Cats is that the game’s name is still incredibly boring.
The “Governor’s Cup,” is not only a dull, boring name for such an intense rivalry, but it’s also a generic name that many other rivalries use. The solution? Change the name of the game to something not only unique, but something unique the state and something both fan bases can agree on:
THE BOURBON BOWL.
As previously mentioned, the current name is not a unique rivalry game name. In fact, the Kansas vs Kansas State, the Georgia Tech vs Georgia, the Eastern Washington vs Montana, as well as the Brown vs Rhode Island games all involve either playing for a trophy named the “Governor’s Cup,” or the name of the game is the “Governor’s Cup.”
That is just in college football alone. If you look across the rest of the sports world, you’ll find the name “Governor’s Cup” being used in college baseball, minor league baseball, professional hockey, harness racing, professional football, indoor football, soccer, yacht racing, and college basketball. The name of the Louisville-Kentucky game is simply unoriginal and underwhelming for such a unique and fun rivalry.
While the NCAA does not permit any alcoholic beverage over six percent alcohol by volume to advertise during NCAA events, this does not mean we couldn’t have the word “Bourbon” associated with a name of a rivalry. It is not a direct advertisement of any specific commercial product. In fact, other rivalry games bear the name of nonspecific alcohol related products in their rivalry names. Such rivalry games include WKU vs Marshall’s “Moonshine Throwdown,” Florida vs Georgia’s “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party*,” Appalachian State vs Western Carolina’s “Battle for the Old Mountain Jug (moonshine),” or Coast Guard vs. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s “The Shot Glass Trophy Game.” Not to mention one of Louisville’s other rivalry games, the “Battle for the Keg of Nails.”
Bourbon Bowl would not only be a representative and recognizable name for our state’s biggest football game, but it’s also a perfectly appropriate and NCAA compliant name.
I am not suggesting that we replace the Governor’s Cup trophy, although a Bourbon Barrel trophy similar to the Keg of Nails would be fitting, but rather that we change the name to a more exemplifying and unique name for our state’s greatest rivalry game.
It’s no secret that Bourbon is one of the top exports and tourism attractions that our great state has to offer. We should allow something synonymous with our state’s name to bear its name on our state’s greatest rivalry game:
To make this dream become a reality, I started a petition a few years ago that you can visit and sign here**. This movement also got a raving review and support from national college football reporter’s Bill Connelly and Steven Godfrey on their now defunct podcast, Podcast Ain’t Played Nobody (RIP). You can hear them talk about it starting at the 14:26 mark:
Let’s make this happen.
* The admins at UF and UGA will say that the “Cocktail Party” is no longer the official name, but no one cares. That’s the name.
** Petition has been updated to include Governor Andy Beshear.