This past week, I couldn’t help but notice how many of my Kentucky-bred Facebook friends had reposted the article “11 Reasons Why America Should Root For Kentucky” by Mrs. Tyler Thompson on Kentucky Sports Radio. It was an enjoyable, feel-good read for Kentucky fans, and I believed every word of it, especially about how great the kids are. But I couldn’t stop thinking “there’s not a snowball’s chance in hell that’s going to happen.” I mean, talk about wishful thinking. There’s a better chance Mitch McConnell will marry Barack Obama on the steps of the Alabama state capital than there is of convincing the rest of America to form a literal Big Blue Nation.
It was one thing for my diehard blue-blooded friends to “like” this article, but I reached my breaking point when it was reposted by Dr. Mark McPeek, professor of biological sciences at the esteemed Dartmouth College. Dr. McPeek (may I still call you Mark?) was my high school and college classmate and is brilliant. Mark and I went to kindergarten together, which was obnoxious because even then he was doing advanced trig while the rest of us were memorizing the months of the year. He was our high school valedictorian to my yearbook editor and I can picture him sequencing genes at UK while I’m three buildings away memorizing the AP Stylebook. So obviously I’m thinking “Aha! It’s taken 50 years but I finally have the opportunity to take down McPeek.” When you see a chance, take it. Hello, McPeek.
First, in order to clear up any confusion, I must explain why I chose the first-person plural “we” to Mock McPeek (that’s how we Bostonians pronounce his name). I have not lived or worked in Kentucky for 22 years but I grew up in Ashland, graduated from UK in ’82 (same year as Mock) and worked in the UK sports information as a student and a professional. I feel my career path entitles me to use “we” to discuss the Kentucky Wildcats, the Florida Gators, the Boston College Eagles and my adopted New England Patriots. This past year, for example, “we” beat USC and Georgia, won the Super Bowl, hired Colorado State’s coach and were accused of deflating footballs. Now “we” have a chance to win a national championship in women’s hockey and make college basketball history. But trust me, there’s no way “they” are going to root for Kentucky.
So now, tongue planted firmly in cheek, I give you my 11 Reasons Why America Will Never Root For Kentucky. And spare me the Calipari quips; this is humor, folks.
- We’ve won more games than you. We even fell into second place once (gasp) and still we’re back on top. What’s that you say? We’ve won more games because we’ve PLAYED more games than you? Um, our winning percentage is better than yours, too. Math genius, you are.
- We’ve won more titles than *you. The asterisk, of course, denotes You-Know-Who-CLA. But 10 of their titles were won by one coach, so shouldn’t those just count as one? And come on, pre-Kareem Lew Alcindor never had to face Jahlil Okafor and Bill Walton had yet to go from bad feet to good feet.
- We have more fans than you. Did you see how many of us turned up in the Yum! Center last night for a practice? It was a PRACTICE and it would have ranked 30th in the nation in college basketball attendance. We’ve been called needy, greedy, insane, insecure, classless, worthless and toothless. Thank you, sir, may I have another? I’ll agree, we can be insecure; we want people to like us, to really like us. But Sally Field is not going to win us another championship. Go ahead, make our day.
- We have more bourbon than you. Without us, there would be no Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam, Wild Turkey, Betty Ford Clinic or “Intervention” on A&E. So go ahead and hate us; we’ll drink to that.
- One-and-Dones. I hate it. You probably hate it, too. I’ve worked in education all my life; college kids should get a degree, and Kentucky players should run through paper hoops after four years. But until the system is changed, hate the sin and not the sinner. We do one-and-dones better than you. Don’t hate us because we’re beautiful.
- They named fried chicken after us. Having an entire food group named after you is usually reserved for countries, not states. Have you ever had Duke fries? A Villanova muffin? Wisconsin wedding soup? Of course not; they’re French, English and Italian. Even then, nobody ever called a broth with green vegetables and meat finger lickin’ good. Our name (or at least the first letter of it) is in neon in 115 countries. Aller grand bleu.
- We have beautiful horses and fast women. Wait, I always get that wrong. We have beautiful fast women and fast beautiful horses. And bourbon.
- We care more than you. We hear you calling us hillbillies and making fun of the way we talk. We know we rank low in education and high in poverty, obesity and smoking. But we’ve won more games than you and have eight titles. And bourbon. So kiss our basketballs.
- We have Mr. Wildcat. Yes, he left this green earth a few years ago, but his huge blue spirit (and hatred of Louisville) live on. Besides, have you ever heard of a “Mr. Tiger” or “Mr. Lion,” other than on a rerun of Captain Kangaroo? Odds are there’s literally a “Mr. Jay Hawk” or two in the world, but it’s not the same. Bill Keightley was the greatest fan ever. And had more bourbon.
- We have The Judds. Ashley (at long last) gets more attention these days, but mom and sis have sold 20 million freakin’ records, people. With Ashley, Wynonna and Naomi, we have every base covered – actress, activist, singer and age-defying hot mama. And they’re from Ashland, home to all good people. Who else can match our star power? LSU? Have you heard Shaq’s album? Terrible. UNC? Have you seen MJ’s acting in those Hanes commercials? Too bad he quit his day job. Yeah, yeah, I know Jennifer Lawrence is from Kentucky, but she jumped our shark when she showed up for that Louisville game. We’re glad she tripped at the Oscars. Twice.
- We have Miley. The fact that she is so polarizing is actually a good thing; either people will want UK to lose because they hate her or because they’re jealous of us for having her. Either way, we want her on our team so she can stick her tongue out at the rest of college basketball. We’re coming in like a wrecking ball, baby.
So there you have it, McPeek, my 11 Reasons Why America Will Never Root For Kentucky. Do we care? Probably. Should we care? Of course not. Tonight at 9:40, pass the extra crispy, drink two shots of Maker’s and stop wanting everyone to like us. It ain’t gonna’ happen. Ever.
Go. Big. Blue. Deal with it.
p.s. – we did not deflate the footballs!