Newton doesn't want to hear from those who say the Kentucky-Louisville game would be better at the end of the season. Newton saw the bitterness in the season-ending Auburn-Alabama football game when he was head basketball coach at Alabama.
"By playing first, both teams play the game and then get into conference play," Newton said. "It's over and done. It has a great buildup but no lasting residue that hurts either program."
Admit how big the game is
Perhaps the Wildcats simply need to admit how big the game is. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino has no problem figuring out what importance to place on this game, which has become an annual fixture on ESPN
"We take the season and break it into two seasons - the Kentucky game and the rest of the season," Petrino said.
What's wrong with that approach? Absolutely nothing. It's similar to the Danville-Boyle County game in Title Town. Both teams point to that encounter and once it ends, they concentrate on district play.
When Danville and Boyle were in the same district and played the last game of the regular season, bitter feelings often overshadowed every other aspect of the rivalry. Putting the teams in different classes and playing the game earlier in the year took away most of the bitterness and turned the game back into a classic rivalry.
Louisville athletics director Tom Jurich says he remembers driving to Commonwealth Stadium in 2003 and listening to a pregame show on WLAP radio. He said one announcer who said he had been covering UK football for 30 years said he had never seen such a festive atmosphere around the stadium like it was for that game.
Contract ends this year
That's why Jurich has no reason to want to play the game any other time than the first game of each season, a point he has to negotiate with Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart since the current contract for this game ends this year.
"I think this game has accomplished everything it sat out to do and more," Jurich said. "From the last basket in basketball until the football season starts, people talk football now."
He says Barnhart has not told him he wants to move the game.
"The first thing is the event has been a success," Jurich said. "I'm never one to tamper with success. Both sides have benefitted from the game. I hear so many Kentucky fans talking about liking the game where it is. Why tamper with that?"
Several Kentucky fans conveyed that exact sentiment to Jurich during a fundraising event at the Cardinal Club Wednesday night. He merely smiled and said he agreed.
Curci: UK just needs to be more competitive
Former Kentucky coach Fran Curci, now a color commentator for Westwood Radio, suggests that the best thing for UK to do would be to become more competitive.
"If the game is competitive and both teams are winning, then no one will be complaining about win the game is played," Curci said. "Rather than complain about win the game is played, Kentucky just has to get better players like Louisville has and get competitive."
He's right. If Kentucky had won three of the last four games, no one at Kentucky would be complaining about playing the game first.
Leave the game alone. It's good for Louisville. It's good for Kentucky. It's good for football in Kentucky. Why tamper with that?