Kentucky has suffered the Kiss of Death.
Before this weekend ever tips off, and to no fault of their own, the Wildcats have fallen victim to one of the great sports media tragedies of our time. Of course, this is all based on my very own theorizing, which began back in 2005, leading up to and surrounding the USC-Texas National Championship Game.
THEORY: The moment a team's legacy is discussed PRIOR to reaching the pinnacle of their sport's season, they are doomed. The act of retrospectively debating a team's place in history, before they accomplish the ultimate task at hand, does just enough to anger the sports gods.
Or here are two more reasonable explanations for all you logical suckers out there:
1. The active parties are listening, ESPECIALLY college kids (However, Sidney Dean wants to know if they're "listening" or if they're "hearing" it). You have to actively attempt to block out 24 hours of sports coverage, Twitter mentions, interview requests, family/friend banter, etc all telling you that you're the greatest. This is what leads to upsets in more than 50% of BCS Championship Games.
2. The opponent. They're listening too. Imagine preparing for the biggest game of your life, only nobody is talking about the game, they're discussing how your opponent compares against the greatest teams of all time. Think you'd be a little fired up? Now, I realize that a good majority of people/athletes would grow intimidated by this, but that's why it (usually) comes to fruition in Championship games, where they're facing equally determined, talented, and insecure players/teams.
The notion that has been spreading faster than #KUBoobs this week, is whether or not Kentucky could beat one of the inferior NBA teams. First off, that's ridiculous. Second off, this qualifies the 2012 Kentucky Wildcats for my theory. And then some.
So where did this theory gain traction? Well, I've already told that you that it originated in 2005 with the USC Trojans football team. I was disgusted by ESPN's series of mock games pairing the 2005 USC team against the best College Football teams of all time (yes, Lee Corso picking 2005 USC over 1995 Nebraska still burns in my memory today). Of course, USC went on to lose to Texas, thus making ESPN's coverage nothing but a pointless exhibition.
Need more examples? Take a look around this past year. The 2011 Miami Heat - could they beat the MJ-led Bulls? What about the Shaq & Kobe Lakers? What about the Dirkness led Mavericks? Nein. LSU put together one of the greatest College Football regular season of all time - an all time great team right? Nope, they still haven't crossed midfield in that discussion either. The 2011 Patriots - not an all-time team, but an all-time QB right? Tom Brady could lay claim to best QB of all time if the Patriots win. Nope.
The theory works best when it comes to College Football, mostly because there is such a long layoff between the end of the regular season and the bowl games, thus making it harder to block out the noise. It also tends to show itself in college more than the pros. Here are some CFB teams who have fallen victim:
- 2009 Florida - lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship
- 2006 Ohio State - lost to Florida in the BCS Championship
- 2003 Oklahoma - lost to Kansas State in the Big 12 Championship
- 2002 Miami - lost to Ohio State in the National Championship
Other examples across the sports landscape:
- 2004 Lakers - lost to the Pistons in NBA Finals
- 2007 Patriots - lost to the Giants in the Super Bowl
- 2001 Rams - lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl
- 2006 UConn - lost to George Mason in the Elite 8
These teams have all been hit upside the head by the curse: Teams whose legacies have superseded the task at hand. This is my theory, and I'm sticking to it. You may not agree with it yet, but when Kentucky goes down this weekend, remember what you read.
To protect the sanctitude of said theory, I can no longer consider Kentucky to be the favourite (sorry, I've been in Canada recently) to win the National Championship. So who is? Unfortunately...
The Ohio State.