Vaught's Views: Cards clearly the best

September 03, 2003|LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON - This may not be easy for University of Kentucky football fans to believe, but they should.

Louisville simply has a better football program than the Wildcats. Forget about facilities. Forget about fan support. Forget about conference affiliation.

Instead, focus on what happens on the field and it's easy to see that the Cardinals have the better team.

Louisville beat Kentucky 40-24 Sunday. It was the fourth time in five years, and third straight time in Commonwealth Stadium, that the Cardinals have downed Kentucky. In three of those games, they've scored more than 40 points. Louisville's average winning margin has been 19 points. Kentucky's lone win in the last five years was a 22-17 decision last season.

First-year Kentucky coach Rich Brooks had to acknowledge Tuesday that Louisville is ahead of the Wildcats.

"Louisville does have the edge," Brooks said. "They have more scholarships (because of UK's NCAA sanctions). They have won four of the last five games. The other two here were more lopsided (than Sunday's game). It makes me sick to my stomach that we did not play better."


It's a feeling of lot of Kentucky fans share because they felt this is a year UK should have won. The game was at Commonwealth Stadium where 95 percent of the 70,000 fans were wearing blue. Kentucky has the more experienced team, including veteran quarterback Jared Lorenzen. UK also seemed to have a huge edge in line play based on the way it had dominated last year's game.

Louisville owned the line of scrimmage

Louisville not only won, it owned the line of scrimmage. It was Kentucky, not Louisville, that made crucial turnovers. It was Louisville, not Kentucky, that made the key plays when it mattered most.

Brooks couldn't bring himself to compliment Louisville any more Tuesday than he did after the game. He preferred to dwell on what was wrong with the UK program.

"We are a team in transition right now," Brooks said. "We need to be better athletically. We need to add more speed. This is a team that has won an average of 2.3 conference games per year over the last 10 years. We've got work to do. I knew that when I came here.

"I'm not happy, but we will not roll over. We will get better. I promise you that. We will be a force before the year is over. I would not be here if all was well at Kentucky. They would have some other hotshot here."

Many fans, and probably some players, have to wonder what the Cats might have done if former coach Guy Morriss, who won seven games last year, had stayed instead of taking a pay raise to go to Baylor.

"I'm sure there are some players with doubts in their mind about where we are headed," Brooks said. "We have taken a team that won seven games and we are doing things differently. Whether we have a few players thinking this coaching staff does not know what the hell it is doing, I don't know."

Some probably are thinking that. That's what a loss to Louisville does.

Time to accept that Cards are just better

However, it's time for UK to accept that the Cards are just better. It's ridiculous to use the excuse that playing the game to start the season makes it mean more to Louisville than it does UK. It's ridiculous to think that UK may benefit from dropping the series. Imagine the recruiting fun Louisville coach Bobby Petrino could have telling potential recruits how UK was scared to play Louisville.

Petrino sent his own message about the state of football in the Bluegrass with the final touchdown Sunday. Louisville didn't have to call a timeout and score with six seconds left. But it did and if Petrino was worried that the score might come back to haunt him in future years, he certainly hid his fear well.

Louisville may play in a smaller stadium, not have the statewide following of Kentucky and belong to the less-than-prestigious Conference USA. However, Louisville has become the best football team in Kentucky and it's time for everyone to accept, and understand, that fact.

Central Kentucky News Articles