Ohio State vs. Kentucky conflicting for area fans

Published 2:40 am Thursday, March 24, 2011

These are times that really test your character.

On the short side of 10 o’clock Friday night, the Ohio State Buckeyes will play the Kentucky Wildcats in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

In most circles, this is a game between two rival programs. But locally, there is more at stake.

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Naturally this side of the Ohio River is loaded with Buckeye fans while the south side is filled with cheers for the Wildcats. But in this area it is not unusual to see Ohio State fans that are also Kentucky basketball fans.

There are the Ohio State fans that love the Buckeyes during football season and follow both teams in basketball who will have to choose a side. Then there are the Ohio State football fans that are Kentucky basketball fans but feel torn to root against the Buckeyes in basketball.

And then there are those special situations where one side of the house is scarlet and gray and the other blue and white.

Dave Coburn — physical therapist and athletic trainer at Tri-State Rehab in Ironton — is in the latter situation. Coburn is an Ohio State fan whose wife Angie — marketing director at Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital — is a Big Blue fan.

“We don’t even talk about it,” said Coburn.

They may not be talking about it at the Coburn house, but other fans don’t mind throwing darts at each other.

Ohio State fans talk about past transgressions and probations under coach Eddie Sutton and Kentucky fans counter with the payment made to a recruit during the Jim O’Brien era.

And then there is current Kentucky coach John Calipari who has had his problems with the NCAA at Massachusetts and Memphis.

It’s great talk to help fuel the fire in the buildup for the game, but it has nothing to do with the outcome when the two teams take the court Friday.

It’s tough for me to say anything about either team. There are ardent Ohio State and Kentucky fans in my family and I have no desire to upset any of them.

And to be truthful, the outcome of the game isn’t that important to me. I mean, it’s just basketball. We’re not talking football here.

Still, there is one final point that needs to be made. I know Ohio State fans say they bleed scarlet and Kentucky fans say they bleed blue, but the truth of the matter is this: when you get cut, all fans bleed red.

Except for Notre Dame fans. They bleed old gold.

Enjoy the game.

—— Sinatra ——

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.