We’re confident Mal Moore was a good administrator at Alabama but there’s no way anyone deserved the Athletic Director of the Year award more than Tom Jurich of the University of Louisville.
Moore, who succumbed to pulmonary problems in March, was honored by Sports Business Daily during ceremonies Wednesday in New York.
The test, as far we’re concerned, is whether an individual could have achieved what Jurich has done at UofL. He has literally transformed the athletic program into one of the strongest, with some of the best facilities in the country, with nowhere near the resources Moore enjoyed at Alabama.
Alabama had some significant accomplishments under Moore, including BCS national championships in 2012 and 2013. The school also won national honors in women’s softball, golf and gymnastics in 2011-12. A school blessed with the advantage of a tremendous state following, along with significant political and financial resources.
Jurich’s accomplishments, on the other hand, have been achieved largely with local support and creative approaches, overcoming monumental political and financial challenges. He was confronted with the very real possibility of UofL being left out of the BCS picture altogether.
Just this past year, he almost single-handedly engineered the school’s entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference. His basketball team won a national championship, the women were national runners up, and the football team won a BCS Sugar Bowl.
This leads us to suspect the Sports Business Daily selection was designed to honor Moore for his lifetime achievements, as opposed to what was accomplished over the past year. Even when compared on a long-term basis, however, we would still have to go with Jurich, trusting he would be honored while he’s still with us.
Few athletic directors could have faced as many challenges and achieved as much as Jurich has at UofL
Opening pitch for the University of Louisville baseball team, the one with the 16-game win streak, is Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the school’s final Big East Baseball Tournament.
All games, except the decisive finale, will be on the Internet at ESPN3.com.
Gotta love how someone in Kenny Klein’s department already has UofL penciled in in the winner’s bracket clear through to Sunday’s championship game on ESPNU.
“I don’t pay attention to it. I’m all about this team. I’m all about the team having success. I’m all about my teammates becoming better players. The Heisman isn’t a goal of mine. A team effort, a national championship, a BCS game, those are our goals.”
Three runs in the first inning, nine in the second, and six in the third.
The UCLA softball team having a field day against the University of Louisville Saturday in the runners-up bracket of the NCAA tournament. The final score was UCLA 19-2. Could have been much worse, mercifully the game being shut down after five innings. Embarrassing for the host team, still another early out in NCAA action.
Indications of discomfort from the fan base, some individuals wondering out loud about Coach Sandy Pearsall’s ability to take the program to the next level. Coming on a day when the Cards had lost earlier to Alabama-Birmingham 7-4 and eliminated from the tournament.
A couple of UofL donors who were there say they were frustrated and humiliated, asking if it may be time for a change. A bad day all around for people close to the team, anticipating much more. There was similar debate on at least two fan message boards.
A good indication of the growing level of interest in the program but somewhat unfair, considering what Pearsall has accomplished.
She has set high expectations, compiling a 553-274 won-lost record since building the program from ground up, starting in 1999. She has guided UofL into NCAA play 10 consecutive seasons. This year’s team had a 47-13 record, following on the heels of the best-ever 55-5 season last year.
No one is hurting more than Pearsall herself, who will find plenty of motivation in the program’s most recent shortcoming.
Expectations are fine but keep them in check.
The Cardinals could have celebrated a share of the championship Friday. No. Too early. They wanted sole ownership. The last regular season trophy available before the Big East becomes an all-Cathoiic, basketball-centric league.
“I’m really happy for these kids that they were able to dogpile and enjoy this conference championship,” said head coach Dan McDonnell. “Selfishly, I probably would’ve celebrated yesterday because you don’t get many opportunities to dogpile in college baseball. They showed me a lot of confidence and a lot of resolve and they wanted more – they wanted to be the sole champion of this league.”
Sixteen consecutive wins to close out the season, UofL capturing its fourth Big East season championship in baseball over the past five seasons. The Cards enter the Big East tournament as the No. 1 seed with a 46-10 won-lost record.
The win was not without drama, starting pitcher Dace Kime as groggy as the overcast day, allowing six hits and walking three batters through an anxiety-filled first four innings. The relief team would allow four more hits and give up four other walks, keeping Pitt within striking distance until the end.
Nick Burdi would load the bases in the top of the ninth before finding the strike zone with those 95-plus mph balls, striking out the last two batters in the heart of the Pitt batting order, sending 2,626 fans home ecstatic.
Jeff Gardner would again deliver a key hit for the Cardinals, winding up on third after slapping a ball into the right field corner, pushing Coco Johnson and Ty Young home in a five-run third inning for the Cardinals.
Winning an NCAA basketball championship leads to all kinds of celebrity and gigs. Look where it led for Stephan Van Treese, the backup center. He had a chance to work with Katie George, a setter for the volleyball team and promotions director for the University of Louisville baseball team, tossing bags of free peanuts to fans Thursday during the season-ending series against Pittsburgh.
As everyone in the state should know by now, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, as the leader of the minority party, is among the University of Louisville’s most influential and powerful fans.
His affinity for Cardinal athletics apparently take priority over many other national concerns, according to Senator Mark Pryor, who represents Arkansas, who told Press Pass:
“It’s not really a closely guarded secret, but they don’t talk about it too much, … Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, is a huge Louisville fan. Huge — off the charts, I mean he’s an unbelievably big Louisville fan,” Pryor said Friday in an interview on The Ticket radio show on 92.1 FM. “I think sometimes we schedule our votes around either Louisville, either football or basketball games.”
McConnell will be making his 28th appearance on Meet The Press this Sunday.
Jeff Gardner gives thanks for still another home run, a shot over the right field fence in the University of Louisville’s 12-4 win over Pittsburgh Friday. His three-run blast in the third inning propelled the Cardinals to a 6-1 lead. He followed up with a 370-foot drive to right center in the fifth inning, his third home run in two games and his ninth for the season.
The win, witnessed by 3,574 fans at Jim Patterson Stadium, assured UofL of a share for first place in the Big East Conference and the No. 1 seed in the next week’s conference tournament.
No celebrating Friday, however. This team wants sole ownership for the Big East Championship. The teams meet again Saturday at Noon.
Stay tuned for a dog pile.
* * *
Meanwhile over at Dan Ulmer Stadium, the UofL softball team was advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament with a hard-fought 2-1 win over a strong Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne team. The women will meet Alabama-Birmingham at 2 p.m. Saturday in the second round of the double-elimination tournament.
Jeff Gardner prepares for a bear hug from teammate Cole Sturgeon after putting his University of Louisville baseball team on the board with a solo home run against Pittsburgh in the fourth inning of Thursday’s game at Jim Patterson Stadium. UofL trailed 1-0 at the time but would score three more runs in the inning en route to a 5-2 decision.
The win moved the Cardinals into a tie with Pitt for first place in the Big East Conference. The teams will go at it again Friday at 6 p.m. Unless one of the games is rained out, UofL needs a three-game sweep to clinch the regular season conference championship. If there is a cancellation, the team to win the next game claims that distinction. If both of the remaining games are rained out, they are co-champions but UofL earns the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament next week.