Four years ago, when we announced we were moving to Kentucky, I remember a warning I received: Kentuckians are crazy about basketball. They go nuts. You've never seen anything like it!
When we moved here, I suppose I found that to be sort of true. I compared it to Texans and our love for football. For Kentuckians, it was the same sense of commitment and passion, but for basketball.
But I didn't necessarily think anyone was CRAZY about it. Until now.
For the past 4 years, the University of Kentucky men's basketball team has not enjoyed the level of success they were accustomed to for many years. The last National Championship came in 1998, and people have been discontent with lack of success over the past few seasons. We moved here during Coach Tubby Smith's last season as head coach. I remember the news stories about his leaving, and I did think at the time, "What's the big deal?". But of course it was a big deal. Smith coached here for 10 years, and was the one that coached the wildcats to their 1998 National Championship.
Then came Billy Gillespie. He came here from Texas A&M University. I am guessing that this was his problem all along. Kidding. Sort of. His tenure was filled with disappointment and scandal. He lasted just 2 seasons.
That brings us to now. We are 3 games in to the season, under Head Coach John Calipari. Kentucky is today ranked #4 in the nation and there is an excitement about Wildcat Basketball I haven't seen before in the 4 years we've lived here.
Excitement is an understatement. A severe understatement. I now understand the warnings we received before we moved. The crazies are out. It's all Big Blue all the time.
The sheer craziness of the Wildcat Craze became most evident to me last night as I watched the news. The Big Story last night on the local news? You know. The leading story? The one deemed most important by the powers-that-be at the news station? The UK win last night at Rupp Arena, against Sam Houston State University.
The second, less important news story of the night, was about a strip mine explosion. Yes. An explosion. That sent rock falling into people's lawns and onto their houses and through the roofs of their cars.
I guess since no one died in the explosion, that made it easier to make the Cats' win the big story of the night.
Go Big Blue!