The final results in the 2017-18 Learfield Directors' Cup were posted Saturday. The University of Kentucky finished 17th and the University of Louisville 30th in the rankings that measure the overall strength of athletics departments.
It is the seventh straight year that UK has finished ahead of U of L in the Directors' Cup, where points are assigned based on how a school's teams fare in NCAA postseason competition in every sport.
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Even in 2012-13, the "Year of the Cardinals," when U of L won the Sugar Bowl in football, played in the College World Series in baseball, went to the NCAA Tournament finals in women's basketball and won the NCAA title in men's hoops (a championship that has been subsequently vacated by the NCAA due to rules violations), Kentucky finished 25th in the Directors' Cup to Louisville's 38th.
So what does UK's consistent besting of U of L in the Directors' Cup standings tell us about the Wildcats-Cardinals rivalry?
As with many things in life, it depends on your perspective.
If you are one of those fans who care about nothing but football and men's basketball, the Directors' Cup tells you zero.
In the two most high-profile sports, UK and U of L have essentially fought to a draw this decade. Kentucky has been the better men's basketball program, going 9-2 head-to-head vs. U of L with two NCAA Tournament wins over the Cardinals since 2009-10 .
Conversely, Louisville is 6-2 against Kentucky in football in the 2010s. Having produced a Heisman Trophy winner and two quarterbacks who became NFL first-round draft picks, the Cardinals have clearly been more relevant to the national football conversation than the Wildcats.
If you are one of those fans whose rooting interest extends to focus on the four most visible sports, adding women's basketball and baseball, then the Directors' Cup standings do not match your experience of the UK-U of L rivalry.
Louisville has enjoyed the upper hand in baseball with four trips to the College World Series since 2007 to none for Kentucky.
In women's basketball, the Cardinals have three Final Four appearances with Jeff Walz as coach to none for the Wildcats. The Cards have beaten the Cats two years in a row, too, though UK had won five of the previous six head-to-head meetings before that.
However, if you are a fan who takes pride in your school striving to be the best at sports across the board, then the Directors' Cup is proof that Mitch Barnhart has developed an athletics department at UK that has consistently been deeper with good teams than the powerful one Tom Jurich built at Louisville.
This past school year, Kentucky owed its 17th-place finish in the Directors' Cup largely to strong finishes from its rifle team (NCAA champions) and women's track and field teams, both indoor (third in NCAA championships) and outdoor (fourth).
UK also got breakthrough seasons in volleyball (Elite Eight for first time since 1987) and gymnastics (reached NCAA national semifinals for first time in school history).
Exceptionally strong women's sports teams have become a staple at Kentucky during Barnhart's tenure.
Among some U of L backers, there is an odd fixation with the success of UK's rifle program as an explanation for why Kentucky has consistently finished ahead of Louisville in the Directors' Cup.
Even in years when that is true, I've not quite figured out why being good in a sport that is contested in the Olympics — as rifle is — is supposed to be suspect.
This past school year, if you took out the 100 Directors' Cup points Kentucky got for winning the 2018 NCAA title in rifle, UK would still have finished ahead of U of L in the standings, 762-690.5.
In the overall context of the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry, success in the Directors' Cup is hardly the end-all, be-all.
One surmises there are many UK fans who would rather have U of L's prowess in football, baseball and women's basketball than the considerable achievements UK has produced in recent years in other, less-visible sports.
Nevertheless, Kentucky's seven straight years finishing ahead of U of L in the Directors' Cup standings is a meaningful indicator of the strength of the all-around athletics program that UK has built.
If nothing else, that should give Cats backers a rivalry talking point they can feel good about.
Mark Story: 859-231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory