Satterfield wants Cards to avoid bitterness in UK rivalry

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) -- It is a legend that quickly became part of Ohio State and Big Ten football lore. With the Buckeyes up 44-14 over their hated rivals and on the way to a consensus national championship in 1968, they scored a late touchdown to make it 50-14 and went for a two-point conversion.

Asked by reporters afterwards why he went for two points, coach Woody Hayes famously replied, "Because I couldn't go for three." Perhaps it was poetic justice that the attempt failed.

An even more colorful quote came out of the Michigan locker room, with assistant coach Tony Mason fuming, "That fat hog went for two. That’s why he’s not wanted in this profession.”

Louisville coach Scott Satterfield smiled when Hayes' remark was repeated to him during his weekly press conference Monday, but then he emphasized that he's not interested in promoting bitter feelings between UofL and Kentucky as he approaches his first Governor's Cup game Saturday at Kroger Field in Lexington.

So he obviously wouldn't emulate Hayes' unsportsmanlike conduct in the unlikely case of a lopsided win, and he certainly won't insult UK coach Mark Stoops if he loses. And Satterfield would also prefer that his players not dwell on any animosity toward their opponent either.

"I think sometimes you can get so caught up in that that you lose sight of what you have to do and what your job is," he said. "Which is to go out and play well at whatever your position. It's not just another game; I mean, we understand it's bigger than that.

"It's a rivalry game, it's bragging rights, there's a lot of things involved with it. But you have to focus; you can't lose sight of what you have to do, and that's prepare well and then go out and perform at a high level. You have to stay in the moment and not get caught up in all the hype."

He doesn't have to worry about at least one player, ignoring the noise, and probably more will follow wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick's example. He tweeted Sunday that he was signing off social media for the week. Satterfield said he had talked to his players and told them he wasn't banning them from social media, but urged them to use good judgment.

"We don't want to get involved in any kind of chatter back and forth," he said. "I told them, 'That's not going to help us win this football game. There's nothing about it that will help us win. It's in your preparation and focusing on what you have to do on a daily basis."

While this will be Satterfield's first experience with the Battle of the Bluegrass, he is no stranger to intense rivalries.

During his six seasons as head coach at Appalachian State, the Mountaineers developed a fierce competition with Georgia Southern, primarily because both teams were annually the top contenders for the Sun Belt Conference championship. App State was 4-2 in those games, with the average margin by the winning team being 21 points, but none larger than 24.

Satterfield says he quickly learned after taking the Louisville job last December that Cardinal fans were even more passionate about beating the Wildcats than his former school was toward Georgia Southern.

His attendance at the Louisville-UK basketball game in the KFC Yum! Center shortly after being hired brought home that reality.

"That was a great atmosphere, and I got a good sense of how it's going to be for me," he said. "Early on, it was indicated to me that we needed to win the game against Kentucky and I'm still learning how it goes."

A big difference, of course, from his experience at App State is that its biggest rival was 334 miles away in a different state, while Louisville and UK are separated only by only 70 miles. So the fan bases in Louisville are intermingled with supporters for each school.

"Every time you go out in town you're potentially going to be around the other fan base," Satterfield said. "A lot of people have come up to me and said, 'I'm a Kentucky fan, but we like what you're doing here at Louisville until we play you. Then we won't like you.' So it's been interesting over the last 10-11 months to see how much passion there is between the two schools, and obviously it's a great competition."

Satterfield said he doesn't know Stoops, but was complimentary of his accomplishments at UK.

"He's done a great job there," Satterfield said. "Last year, what did they win, 10 games? Had a great season. Got a lot of respect for what he's been able to do and for what his program is."

FAVORS EARLIER DATE

Louisville and Kentucky met in the opening game of the season from 1994, when the current series started, through 2000. It was then played as the first, second or third game for both teams until being moved to the regular season finale in 2014, making this the sixth straight season in that slot.

After first saying it doesn't matter to him when the game is played, Satterfield indicated he thinks earlier in the season would be better, preferably reverting to the opener again.

"Everybody's excited because you haven't played a game and everybody can't wait for the football season to hit, so I think there would be even more excitement surrounding the game, " he said. "At this point in the season teams are kind of what they are, and students are gone for Thanksgiving break. So for all those reasons it's probably better at the beginning. But whenever you're playing your rival, it's going to be intense. There's going to be a lot of excitement and you've got to go out and play your best ball."

The game is likely to remain at the end of the season for the foreseeable future because dates through 2027 have already been scheduled alternating home and away. The Cardinals host the game next season.


Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college football and basketball for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at 0926.russ.brown@gmail.com.

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