I'm a graduate of Western Kentucky - and very proud of it. I think their advertising and public relations program is hands-down one of the best in the country. The whole school of journalism and broadcasting is highly ranks up in the top five .
I was also an athlete for WKU, running cross country and track all four years (there aren't many one-and-done track runners). While our teams won several conference titles during my time there, the track program had a very storied tradition. In fact, there's a picture of Western Kentucky runner Nick Rose battling with Steve Prefontaine on a large mural in the Niketown in Lenox Mall in Buckhead.
If I'm so proud to be a Hilltopper, why have I been cheering so hard for the University of Kentucky's men's basketball team these last few weeks?
I grew up watching UK basketball with my dad. In our driveway, we had a basketball hoop that we made painted blue and white with a "UK" painted in the top corner. I could recite the whole roster (or at least the starting lineup) as soon as I could talk. To this day, my dad and I still text each other commentary during games.
Dad went to UK. His sister went to UK and met her husband there. My cousins went to UK. My grandfather went to UK. In fact, as I type this, I'm drinking coffee out of an old UK basketball mug that used to belong to Grandaddy. It's a family tradition.
If it's such a family thing, why didn't I go to UK instead?
Well, for what I wanted to do with my life, WKU provided a much better set of opportunities. They allowed me to walk-on to their track team with the hopes of earning scholarship money if I proved myself enough (which I eventually did). As noted earlier, the school of journalism and broadcasting was one of the best. The campus is beautiful and all of the facilities are incredibly nice.
Then there was Imagewest, the only full service student-run, for-profit ad agency in the nation (at the time). I was going to have the chance to build a real-world work portfolio before I left campus. Graduating in the valley of a recession, that was a clutch asset.
So if WKU and UK played each other in basketball, who would I cheer for?
Western, obviously. I was an athlete there and am an alumni. I can't cheer against a teammate.
That said, while I never wore blue during my time on The Hill, I still follow UK closely in basketball. I also follow Louisville. During basketball season, I root for any school from the state of Kentucky. Whether it's Lousiville, Morehead, Eastern or Murray, I love seeing any of those schools succeed. I think anyone from Kentcuky should cheer for teams representing their home state.
Had Louisville beaten UK last weekend, I would've cheered for Louisville the rest of the way. But they didn't. WKU didn't even make it to the tourney this year.
So while I'll wave my red towel most any other day of the year, tonight I'll be wearing blue while I watch UK compete for a national title.
After all, who really wants to see UConn win this?
All that said about UK basketball, I never get tired of watching this epic March Madness clip of WKU in the NCAA tourney from my junior year of college. I remember where I was sitting when this shot went down.