Focus on Breeders Cup, not Football

I don’t believe that the University of Louisville is keeping its cheerleaders and the Cardinal Bird home this weekend because they’re scared the hillbillies in Morgantown will somehow injure or intimidate them.  I’ve been there. It’s not a pleasant environment. And you do feel like you’ve escaped when the game ends and you get to your car. The fans are drunk, hostile and consider anyone in red a target.

But this defense of West Virginia‘s redneck ways is worth reading, including the line: The idea that Morgantown is any worse a place to visit than any other college football town is silly on a lot of levels. Mostly because WVU doesn’t own the market on stupid drunk people.

Word is that U of L is taking a small contingent of officials into West Virginia, perhaps hoping to limit the game’s economic impact on WVU, which will be a conference brother no longer.  The game itself is a big one for U of L, which could actually become a contender for the league title with a road win. U of L is a 13-point underdog, but there’s some optimism in the Cardinal camp after last week’s 27-10 win over Syracuse.

And though Charlie Strong is being honest when he says he and his players aren’t paying attention to the conference realignment fiasco, plenty of U of L officials will be extra jubilant with a U of L win since the Mountaineers were the Big 12’s pick.

No, I don’t think U of L officials really fear for their cheerleaders’ safety in Morgantown — they know the big party will be right here for the Breeders Cup.  It’s Derby Day in the fall, times two, with an international flavor. And all 15 races mean something — from the $500,000 Juvenile Sprint Friday to the big one , the $5 million Breeders Cup Classic.

You can get in for $15 on Friday, $25 on Saturday, and no one expects you to go out and buy a big hat.  With $26 million in purses, every owner, trainer and jockey wants to be here.

Meanwhile, the party circuit will rival Derby Eve. It starts tonight, with an invitation-only “Breeders’ Cup Winner’s Circle Celebration” at the Gillespie. It follows U of L’s game with Bellarmine at the Yum! Center.

Friday’s card will be televised on ESPN2, but WHAS will be on the air from 2-4 with special programming. On Saturday, ABC will cover the Breeders Cup from 1-3:30 (so WHAS moved the U of  L game, on the Big East Network, to WBNA at Noon), before it moves to ESPN for the afternoon, WHAS will have local Breeders Cup coverage from 10 a.m. until 2 Saturday.