As we try to put on a brave face and endure this nightmare of a season for another month and a half, it seems we’re all still searching for answers to the question of “how did things go so wrong so fast?”
There’s already been widespread speculation across the fanbase ranging from placing the blame on Kenny Payne, the players, the NCAA, the FBI, former coaches, former athletic directors, or even all of the above. We hear the same conversations every day on the radio, and see it every day online and on TV. But there’s been a new theory popping up lately that may have some traction. Perhaps it’s not any of the aforementioned…
Perhaps…it’s a jacket (pullover? quarter zip?).
It didn’t take long for fans to notice that Kenny Payne seems to have a favorite jacket/pullover/quarter zip. For this exercise, we’ll call it a jacket.
Sure, fans have been nitpicky and are dissecting even the smallest thread of detail when it comes to Kenny Payne’s operation of this program. But you really wouldn’t have to look very closely to notice that KP seems to wear the same jacket over and over.
The first time he wore the infamous jacket publicly was the Lenoir-Rhyne exhibition in which Louisville lost in shocking and embarrassing fashion. Not a great start for KP or the jacket. But then when the Cards played Chaminade just days later in their second exhibition, KP was seen wearing the jacket again. Not a crazy thing to do, but just kind of odd.
But then things get out of hand. When the season officially starts Kenny Payne wears the jacket again, and again, and AGAIN to bring his streak of wearing the jacket to five consecutive games. This is when fans begin to wonder if the jacket is cursed.
Here’s a game by game breakdown of every shirt KP has worn on the sidelines thus far, not including exhibitions:
As you can see, KP has worn the same jacket in 14 of Louisville’s 18 regular season games, making it 16 of 20 overall. A staggering number of times to wear the same jacket for a multimillionaire whose program is a marquee brand for one of the largest apparel companies in the world. Yes, they have more than one jacket. I checked.
I’m not even sure that many of us are that bothered that the guy has a favorite jacket and wears it often. That’s a fine thing to do. Hell, many of us are superstitious and are guilty of wearing the same things over and over to try and keep luck on our side. My brother wore the same UofL-clad boxers every game of the 2006 football season (except the Rutgers game. It’s all his fault!), I wore the same shirt every game of the 2013 men’s basketball tournament, and I’m sure many of you have done something similar yourselves. But the difference between most of us and KP is that usually when things aren’t going our way, we change up what we’re doing. And that’s what has many Louisville fans concerned.
One would think that when you’ve only won 2 (TWO!) regular season games in 18 tries and have your team ranked in and around the 300s in KenPom and the NET rankings, you might say “hey, this jacket may not be so lucky.”
But maybe KP’s onto something.
When the Cards arrived in Hawaii for the Maui invitational he KP switched things up for the first time and donned a festive red Hawaiian shirt for their Arkansas game. But that’s when things went from bad to worse. If you thought losing to Lenoir-Rhyne in an exhibition game or losing your first three regular season games by three combined points was bad, getting blown to smithereens by Arkansas was just a sign of things to come in paradise. KP ditched the Hawaiian and opted for a classic cardinal red UofL polo for their Texas Tech game the next day. What followed was the most embarrassing and lopsided loss I can remember by a UofL men’s basketball team. 70-38 was the final score. And who could blame him for switching back to the jacket after those two wardrobe changes only made things worse?
He ended up wearing the original jacket for the last game in Maui against Cincy, but to his credit two games later he tried wearing a red jacket for Louisville’s game against Miami. What happened? Another blowout loss, this time 80-43.
So KP of course switched back to the regular jacket for the next five games, where Louisville would pick up two wins along the way.
But then Kenny made a fatal mistake. He wore a different jacket for the UK game. You know what happened next.
And now we find ourselves on a run of four consecutive games in which KP has worn the jacket. If he wears it again tonight against Pitt he will match his previous highs of five consecutive games.
To be honest, I think he might actually have the right idea. He’s never won a game wearing anything other than the jacket. Does he have a 2-12 record with the jacket? Yes, but the average point differential WITH the jacket is -8.2. The average point differential in the four losses WITHOUT the jacket? A staggering, an absurd, and outrageous -27 points (NEGATIVE TWENTY-SEVEN).
I mean, who can blame the guy?