Footnote to the UK – Louisville rivalry…
On Saturday, Morgan Newton will get his first start against UK’s arch-rival, Louisville, in the annual battle for the Governor’s Cup. That Newton is wearing the blue and white, and not Cardinals’ red and white, is a victory for the Cats, in its own right.
Newton was one of the premiere quarterbacks coming out of Carmel High School in 2008. One recruiting service had Newton tabbed as a 5-star product, which means the Indianapolis, Ind. native was a “can’t miss” player.
Newton made every All-American team that year, including Indiana’s Mr. Football and the Gatorade Player of the Year in the Hoosier state.
Louisville was recruiting Newton. Newton liked Louisville.
Why wouldn’t he? The Cards were coming off one of the greatest runs in school history, capped off by a win in the Orange Bowl. Quarterback Brian Brohm was a senior and a Heisman Trophy candidate. Newton could come in and compete right away for minutes.
But something strange happened to the Newton family on their way to see the Cardinals play at Commonwealth Stadium in 2007.
“As soon as we got to town and we saw this sea of blue, we thought, ‘Whoa!’” John Newton , Morgan’s father, said.
“We actually went to see U of L. This is something we hadn’t experienced before,” Newton said.
The Newton’s, like the nearly 70,000 fans in Commonwealth Stadium on that night, saw one of the most thrilling games in UK history. In a moment that defined the Rich Brooks era at Kentucky, Newton saw Andre Woodson hit Steve Johnson with a 57-yard touchdown pass to give the Cats a 40-34 win over No. 9 Louisville. It was UK’s first win over a Top 10 opponent in nearly 30 years.
“Kentucky has great tradition of being excellent in basketball,” Ruby Newton, Morgan’s mother said on Aug. 21, 2008, the day her son committed to Kentucky. “When we saw the football environment, we thought, ‘Wow!’ Morgan can be part of a great, great ride that Kentucky fans will love in football.”
What they’re saying about the Louisville rivalry…
Ronnie Sneed, UK senior linebacker – “This game is to see who controls the state.”
Danny Trevathan, UK senior linebacker – “You want to win against them. It’s like a home state rivalry and where I’m from, home state rivalries are live.”
La’Rod King, UK junior wide receiver – “I hear it all the time. 24/7. Half my family is for Louisville, so I have to shut them up. Then when I go home for a family reunion, sitting there at the dinner table, just smiling and laughing, knowing that we beat Louisville again.”
Mister Cobble, UK defensive tackle and Louisville native – “That’s my hometown and a lot of people in my family root for Louisville. The only person really rooting for Kentucky is my mother. It’s like a state championship for me.”
Ridge Wilson, UK junior linebacker and Louisville native – “It’s a big game. It gets you warmed up for all the beef and the things you’re going to face in the SEC.”
Winston Guy, UK senior safety – “We’ve been beating Louisville for these past couple of years. It’s nothing but personal for me. There’s going to be a lot of emotions, a lot of things are going to go on in the game. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a lot of trash talking.”
Mike Summers, UK offensive line coach and former Louisville assistant – “ It’s very intense. Both sides want to win with so much passion. It’s such a big game, too, for both teams, in terms of the season. It makes these games great to win and it crushes you when you lose.”