When Josh Wolford told us yesterday about Mitch McConnell's embarrassing campaign ad faux pas, the one with a shot of Duke basketball players where he obviously meant to show UK players, the joke train was working up a head of steam in Kentucky.
McConnell's presumptive Democrat opponent in the Senate race, Alison Grimes, tweeted out to everyone:
"KY, as your next Senator, I promise to never glorify a Duke championship in a campaign ad like @Team_Mitch"
And later that day:
"Turns out @Team_Mitch has been in DC for so long he can't tell the difference between UK & Duke basketball."
Team Mitch saw that they were in deep doo-doo and moved to fix the screw-up, only to cause another problem the very same day.
According to WFPL in Louisville, McConnell's campaign replaced the Duke footage, as short as it was, with a clip of UK's Julius Randle. The trouble is, they never asked permission to use that footage, and the act raised questions with the NCAA since Randle is still in college.
In the end, the NCAA had to address the issue, leading to the University sending Team Mitch a cease and desist letter and issuing the following statement.
"The University of Kentucky consulted with the NCAA earlier today regarding footage of Julius Randle in a Mitch McConnell advertisement. Although the use of the student-athlete's image in the advertisement is not permissible, because it was done without the knowledge or permission of the university or the student-athlete, it is not an NCAA violation. The University of Kentucky has sent a cease and desist letter and will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure improper usage of a student-athlete's name, image or likeness is prevented."
So, why was Mitch McConnell scrambling to fix a split-second clip showing Duke anyway?
Ever since the 1992 NCAA Tournament, UK and Duke have been mortal enemies. If you aren't familiar with the cause, let me fill you in, especially since it relates to current politics in Kentucky, and even the U.S.
It was the 1992 NCAA East Regional Finals. The Elite Eight. Duke vs. Kentucky. It was a battle to go to the Final Four. Coach Mike Krzyzewski vs. Coach Rick Pitino.
UK was 12 points down in the second half and came back to tie the game with 33.6 seconds left. The game goes into overtime. After what seemed like an hour of OT play, Kentucky is up 103-102. Until… The Shot.
Kentuckians don’t talk about The Shot. And, anytime they do, it is followed with a spit and a curse. In Wildcat Country, it is like the death of JFK. Every single UK fan old enough to know about that game remembers exactly where they were when it happened.
Wildcat fans are not sore losers about that game. What enrages them is that they feel Laettner should have been ejected for stomping on Aminu Timberlake earlier in that same game. It was a vicious, purposeful thing to do, and Laettner has admitted to waiting for his moment to do it.
This event is so deeply rooted in the psyche of UK fans, and is passed along to the next generation, that the UPS company, which has distribution operations in Kentucky, caught hell when they featured "The Shot" in ads during March Madness in 2012.
McConnell knows this, and rushed to fix the error, only to step in more trouble. It will be interesting to see where else his opponents take this one, including Tea Party primary challenger, Matt Bevin.
Image via YouTube