With the annual football matchup between UK and Louisville still months away, several UofL players sent waves through both fan bases this summer with tweets predicting a win in the season opener and showing pictures of a UK logo in an on-campus urinal.
While players may have started talking about the game already, both teams’ coaches did their best to discourage that talk at the Governor’s Cup luncheon Thursday, the unofficial start to the fall football season.
“It’s social media — and I say it all the time — it’s going to be the down fall of society,” said Louisville head coach Charlie Strong. “You never realize once you tweet, it’s there and it’s never going to go away. People (say), ‘Well, I can go take it off.’ No. Once it’s posted, it’s posted. We just have to be smart about what we do and what we say.”
After the tweets from Louisville players got attention this summer, UK head coach Joker Phillips was quick to discourage his players from chirping back at the Cardinals.
“We don’t get into that,” he said. “I respect this game. The game of football does so much for many of us. I respect this rivalry. I’m a Kentuckian, and I’m just so happy we play. For many years we didn’t play.
“We’re not going to disrespect the rivalry. That’s what’s important to me.”
Governor's Cup trophy. (Photo by Jon Hale)
Phillips’ comments were met with applause from the supporters of both programs gathered at the Cardinal Country Club in Simpsonville, and Strong was quick to echo them when he took his turn at the podium.
“Joker made a good point awhile ago,” he said. “Some guys that don’t even play do all the talking. Just shut up. You have to play the game. The game is going to come to you. You have to play the game, so we don’t need to put anything out there. Just worry about your program, just worry about your football team.”
Regardless of the amount of trash talk leading up to the game, both teams figure to have plenty of motivation in the Sept. 2 game.
UK will be looking for revenge after Louisville snapped a four-game losing streak in the series with a 24-17 win last season. The Cardinals will be looking to make an early statement with some prognosticators picking them among the favorites to win the Big East Conference.
“We both go our separate ways (after the game), and the team that has won has carried the momentum to the next game,” Phillips said. “It’s an important game. Everybody talks about how important it is to us. It’s important to these guys too, and they’ll tell you that. It’s an important game for both teams. When it’s important, it makes it an intense rivalry.”
Since the game will be played in Louisville this season, it will be played in week one, as opposed to the week three date used when the game is played in Lexington. The matchup being the first game on both team’s schedule does not change the intensity of preparation, Strong said.
“We know you never want to downplay this rivalry, but it’s the first game this season, it’s going to be the third game next season,” he said. “It’s always whomever you’re playing the first game, you just have to get ready to play.”
While the game is still 38 days away, the summer is all but over for both teams.
UK players report for fall camp next week with media day scheduled for Friday, Aug. 3, and the annual Fan Day events scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 4.
It’s “my last day to play golf,” Phillips said of Thursday’s festivities. “I put my clubs in the back of my pickup, hoping that somebody would steal them. So anybody out there that needs some clubs, have at it.”