We report on the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports here. Thanks for checking us out! Click the picture of Louie to hear the latest Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast!!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Tuesday Cardinal Couple -- What makes a rivalry?


- Jeff MCAdams takes a look at rivalries

Sunday afternoon I had the opportunity to watch the UK vs Duke Women's Basketball game in Rupp Arena as a special correspondent for  Published by Orin Day, is a site all about Duke Women's Basketball.  I was asked to go to the game and write an article about the game from the perspective of a Louisville fan.  Of course, with Louisville joining The ACC next year, Duke vs Kentucky takes on added significance.

You can see what I wrote below:


Leading to the game, Orin sent me some ideas of topics that would likely be well received on his site about the game.  One of the ideas was to write about whether there would be a Duke-Louisville rivalry develop in Women's Basketball in The ACC.

While is focused on Women's Basketball, WE here at Cardinal Couple cover all women's sports, so I'd like to take this space to explore the idea of a potential Duke-Louisville rivalry from the broader perspective of really all sports, but with a particular focus on women's athletics.

What makes for a good rivalry?

Physical proximity can be one factor.  Think of all of the cross-town rivalries:  Duke v UNC, Cincinnati v Xavier, Cal v Stanford, USC v UCLA, Houston v Rice, and many more.  Then intra-state: Louisville v Kentucky, Michigan v Michigan State, UNC v NC State, Alabama v Auburn and again many more.

Familiarity through regular competition can be another factor.  Here you find some of the historical rivalries like Ohio State v Michigan, Army v Navy, Pitt v WVU, Louisville v Memphis, Louisville v Cincinnati, and...well...let's just put this link, here, to give an idea.

Competitiveness comes into play as a factor as well.  If one school regularly beats the other by wide margins, it is very difficult to build any real excitement about meeting the school in competition.  For example, not too many people consider Louisville and UConn to be in a signficant rivalry, despite a lot of familiarity between the schools and meeting in competition quite regularly, many of those competitions just aren't all that competitive.  We regularly beat UConn in many sports such as Volleyball, Softball, and Men's Basketball; while UConn usually hands us a defeat in Women's Basketball and Field Hockey.

So how do these factors come into play with Louisville and Duke?

Louisville and Duke aren't in any real proximity to each other.  Its a solid 8 hour drive from Louisville to Durham, NC, so that factor doesn't help.

How often will Louisville and Duke meet up against each other in competition after we join The ACC?  With the size of The ACC, we wouldn't be expected to regularly meet up with Duke more than once in any sport in any season.  It will be even less in Football as we will be in the Atlantic division replacing Maryland, and Duke is in the Coastal division.  Post season tournaments will give another opportunity for the schools to meet one another.

If the schools play lots of sports in common, it can help bolster a nascent rivalry as well, so let's figure out what sports Louisville and Duke play in common.  Baseball, Basketball (M&W), Cross Country, Field Hockey, Football, Golf (M&W), Lacrosse (W), Rowing, Soccer (M&W), Swimming & Diving, Tennis (M&W), Track & Field, and Volleyball (W).  The only sport that Louisville participates in that Duke doesn't is Softball, and Duke has announced that they are adding Softball, with anticipated first varsity competition in 2018.  Duke competes in three sports that Louisville doesn't: Fencing, Lacrosse (M), and Wrestling.  That's a really remarkably compatible list of sports...these are schools that are going to be seeing each other a lot across sports.  I think this factor is a mild positive for the idea of a budding rivalry.

So what about competitiveness in each sport?

Baseball - no, we have quite a good team, Duke is not so great
Basketball (M&W) - yes, all four teams are relatively competing at high levels
Field Hockey - yes, both Duke and Louisville are good, but not yet great teams
Football - yes, both teams seem to be on an upward trajectory
Lacrosse (W) - no, Duke is very good in both Men's and Women's Lacrosse.  While our Women's team is progressing, we're not at Duke's level of play, yet.
Soccer (M) - probably not, Duke is mediocre, we're pretty good
Soccer (W) - yes, like Field Hockey, both teams are good but not yet great
Volleyball (W) - quite possibly, Duke won the ACC and only had 5 losses on the year as a whole

I don't really feel like I have enough expertise to judge for Cross Country, Rowing, Swimming & Diving, Tennis, and Track & Field.  If any readers want to weigh in on those sports in comments, I'd love to hear your take.

So there are a lot of sports where I expect us to be competitive with Duke, so that factor works in
favor of a budding rivalry.

All in all, I think there is real potential for Duke-Louisville to build into a significant rivalry over the years.  As I said in my article for, though, only time will tell.  Are there other ACC teams that might develop into a rivalry more than Duke?  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments.

-Jeff McAdams


Pam Bustin left the Cards Field Hockey program to assume the head coaching role at Duke.  Nolan Smith was a highly recruited men's basketball player who chose Duke over Louisville. His dad, Derek Smith, was a member of the 1980 UofL National Championship team. Louisville defeated Duke for the 1986 NCAA National Championship in men's basketball. Jay Bilas, a member of that 1986 Duke squad and current ESPN basketball commentator isn't very popular among UofL fans. Duke went to court to cancel a UofL vs. Duke planned football series several years ago.

The Cards defeated Duke last year in the NCAA Tournament...the game where Kevin Ware had his scary leg injury. There are plenty of seeds present to grow a fun rivalry against the Blue Devils. Whether it will grow and develop or not remains to be seen. 

As a side father, uncles and aunt were born 12 miles down Hwy 70 from the Duke campus. I still have dozens of relatives in the Burlington and Haw River area...but their loyalties are pretty much equally divided between Duke and UNC. I grew up visiting the area each summer and have visited the Duke Gardens, walked the trails in the Duke Forest, played pick-up basketball in Cameron Indoor Stadium and attended services in Duke Chapel.

My father's ashes were laid to rest in the Sykes Cemetery in Haw River.

My wife Sonja has an autographed picture of Coach K...signed "Go Cards!" from a chance meeting on an airplane flight years ago.  Yes, the Blue Devils and the Sykes family have a history.

Personally, I'm OK with Duke Athletics. I tend to make fun of Coach Joanne P. and her quizzical coaching style and mannerisms...but I expect when it comes down to Duke and UK, I'll choose the "Dookies" as the lesser of two evils. Against us? It'll be "GO CARDS" every time.





  1. Greetings from the sunny south! Very nice write up, Jeff. Paulie, never figured you to be a closet Dookie. The ACC has many set rivalries in place and it is difficult to see any further ones develop with established members and Louisville. I do think the UofL and ND rivalry will continue to blossom and I'm excited that the Cards will be making annual trips to some of the hotbeds of football and hoops.

    ACC = All Championship Cardinals

    Have a great holiday gang! I'm teeing off in about an hour...hoping to better my 88 from yesterday. My son joined me down here Sunday and played 18 with me and my brother yesterday -- firing a 76 with an unfortunate double bogey on a Par 3.

    David Watson

  2. LOL David. Never said I was a closet Dookie fan. I just have kin in the area. Sounds like Will is hitting the ball a ton. Enjoy the warm. We're freezin up here. Are you two going to the bowl game?


  3. What are your games for this weekend? I will beat all three of you.

    Fast Eddie

    1. Right looks like we'll choose on SMU @ Louisville, Middle Tenn. State @ Clemson, Temple @ Memphis and IU @ Xavier. All are on Sunday, I believe.

      Good luck and Merry Christmas!



Please leave your comments here. We ask you be respectful of other posts, no matter how ridiculous they may seem to you. After all, it is CARDINAL COUPLE.

Any attempts to advertise a product or other website here in the comments section without the prior consent of CARDINAL COUPLE will result in a bill rendered for advertising services and possible legal action. We're serious. No more bots.

Now, have your take...