Author Archive: Charlie Springer
Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.
Look. Up in the sky.
The drones are coming and they’re going to provide some new perspectives on University of Louisville football and other sports. The athletic department has acquired at least two drones and is eager to put them to work.
In fact, one of them took its inaugural flight prior to the UofL football scrimmage last Saturday (see video below), sweeping high above the playing field before most of the crowd of approximately 1,500 fans had arrived. Just a test run, mind you, because Bobby Petrino would not want any surprises during football practice.
Nick Stover, director of social media for the athletic department, says the drones could become a frequent sight at games. But first he and his team have to become more familiar with the drones and any applicable laws.
“They’re still a fairly new phenomenon to civilians so we’re contacting the FAA and other agencies,” he said. “We have a lot of ideas we are exploring.”
Stover plans to showcase the new soccer stadium, Card March during football games, and dozens of other events. He says the football team has the other drone, which could be used to evaluate football practice sessions. Whether they will ever replace the towers on the practice field is another question.
The drones are equipped with Go Pro cameras and are white Phantom 2 models manufactured by a company called DJI in Los Angeles, which offers about a dozen choices. They have four rotor blades, resembling a small helicopter.
Watch out for one above you at an upcoming game.
Thorntons convenience stores have just become the quick stop of choice for many more University of Louisville fans.
The locally based chain, which has 177 gasoline and convenience stores in six states, announced a matching gift of $3 million toward the construction of the new Academic Center for Excellence to be built adjacent to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Tuesday press conference was held in the Card March tunnel facing the South end of the stadium where the academic center will be located.
Mark Jurich, who has spearheaded the fundraising drive, said recently that he expects to have the $14 million in hand by the end of the year. He said Tuesday that he anticipates construction to begin in February or March 2015, expecting completion in time for the 2016 academic year.
“When complete, a promise will have been fulfilled to all the kids on this campus,” said Tom Jurich. “They’re going to be exposed to the finest academic facility that we know of around the country. Thorntons is doing it for all the right reasons. You’re going to make a bigger difference with this building than any stadium, Yum! Center, soccer stadium or any swimming pool that we could ever build. That’s where our heart beat is going be in the academic center.”
The state-of-the-art center will house operations for the entire athletic department and all student athletes and academic staff. It will house tutorial areas, laboratories, offices, classrooms and break areas for students.
“All of us at Thorntons have been Cardinal fans … forever,” said Matt Thornton, the company’s chief executive officer. “Mark and Tom have come to us many, many times for various opportunities, all good ones but they never really clicked. When we learned about the academic center, we were there. We were there instantly. We really like the idea of having all those athletes in one spot, not running all over campus. We’re proud to be associated with the University and UofL athletics.”
The Thorntons gift raises the overall total to $11 million, including more than $3 million generated from the sale of Maker’s Mark special lablel bottles honoring Charlie Strong, Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich.
* * *
Thorntons also announced a co-branded program with a Cardinal Athletic Fund and Thornton’s Refreshing Rewards Loyalty program card that will be provided to CAF members, with personalized benefits at local stores. Special promotions will benefit CAF members, the details which will be announced by the company in the next few weeks.
Dr. Mark Lynn, Jr., assistant director of the University of Louisville Marching Band, and his proteges have completed the Ice Bucket Challenge for Lou Gehrig’s Disease and have challenged their University of Kentucky rivals to do the same. Thanks for sharing, Mark.
A press conference to announce a major gift is scheduled Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Card March tunnel area adjacent to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Just a wild guess here that Maker’s Mark, which has already raised millions of dollars with special label bottles toward the project, will come through with the topping off gift.
Wouldn’t be surprised if it is named the Bill Samuels Center for Academic Excellence in honor of the former Maker’s Mark executive who previously chaired the UofL Board of Trustees.
Still another groundbreaking coming soon.
* * *
UofL’s incoming freshman class this fall, the largest and most academically well-prepared in the school’s history. The new students move into residence halls Wednesday and start classes next week. Here’s a look at the Fall 2014 class profile:
- 2,908 incoming students have enrolled
- 55 percent are entering with some college credit
- 82 percent are Kentucky residents
- 41 percent are from Jefferson County
- 22 percent are students of color
- 36 U.S. states are represented.
- In Fall 2013, UofL’s incoming students had an average 25.2 ACT score and 52 percent had previous college credit
A record number of new students will live on campus this fall. Based on preliminary figures, 2,050 new students will live in university housing compared to 1,965 last fall, 1,817 in Fall 2012 and 1,730 in Fall 2011.
Who is Charles Gaines, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound junior who plays cornerback for the University of Louisville football team?
An individual who was keeping some of his teammates and other onlookers in stitches during Saturday’s scrimmage at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. One who isn’t bashful about his own accomplishments and unrestrained from pointing out flaws in his teammates. One who is constantly talking, endlessly, on and on.
Coach Bobby Petrino, knowing the players listen to Gaines, pay attention to all the chatter and respect him for his abilities, joining the coaches and players in making Gaines one of the five co-captains. Former coach Charlie Strong wasn’t so appreciative of the hyper activity, benching Gaines the last five games of his freshman season.
Gaines is one of the quickest players on the team, clocked at a speed of 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash during pre-season workouts. After finishing second to Corvin Lamb in the 40-yard workouts, he said, “Muhammad Ali lost, too, but he’s still the greatest.”
(What’s up with all the formality anyway, Charles? Every Charles I’ve ever known preferred being Charlie.)
He would be a threat to score on either offense or defense, Petrino deciding cornerback was where he could best contribute this season. Don’t be surprised, however, if he returns a few kicks this season or winds up in an offensive formation. Just too much speed and maneuverability to be ignored.
He scored three touchdowns last season, including a kick return, an interception return and a blocked punt return. In his first full season on the defensive side, recording 22 tackles and leading the team in interceptions with five picks, including four in the last six games.
The Miami native, a product of Miami Central, helped his high school team win the 6-A state title with a crucial interception and subsequent touchdown return during his senior year.
Gaines is a natural-born entertainer, whether he’s in the game or on the bench, a sideshow all to himself. He’s good, knows it and expects to excel on the field. Watch for him to take his act to a new level this season.
DeVante Parker eludes the outstretched arms of Andrew Johnson after catching a pass from Will Gardner that was good for 30-plus yards.
The last public look at the University of Louisville football team before the season opener, an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday to give Bobby Petrino and approximately 2,000 fans a look at how far this team has progressed during fall camp.
No one was operating the scoreboard, but there were a few take-aways:
– Will Gardner has a commanding presence at quarterback, his 6-foot-5 frame suiting him well, able to see over the defense and with the arm strength to reach any target within 50 yards of the line of scrimmage. He’s a natural for the position, a threat defenders will have to take very seriously at all times.
– DeVante Parker will catch almost any ball thrown in his direction, if even on a second or third bounce. Opposing safeties had better stick with him even after they’ve batted the ball. He doesn’t give up easily, going for the tips, never quitting. Good for multiple catches Saturday and big chunks of gains.
– Brett Nelson, a 6-foot-4 reserve signal caller from California, displays confidence at the position as well. If he weren’t a senior, Nelson would be a leading contender for the backup position. He and wide receiver Kai De La Cruz were good for a 50-yard pass play. No reason to despair if things don’t work out with the quarterbacks in front of him.
– Reggie Bonnafon, the freshman quarterback from Trinity, hooked up with sophomore James Quick for a 35-yard touchdown, providing a preview of things to come over the next few seasons. Both are naturally gifted, just waiting for the game to come to them, as it will soon enough.
– The play of the day was an 65-yard pass combination from Bonnafon to wide receiver Matt Milton, catching a 40-yard spiral on his way to the end zone. Milton, a 6-foot-5 senior, is a solid athlete and will see the end zone quite a bit this season.
– Michael Dyer, with legs the size of an ox and the speed of a thoroughbred, will get a lot of calls when UofL gets inside the 10-yard line. He bruised his knee Saturday but should return quickly.
– Corvin Lamb, the fastest player on the team, is healthy as he enters his junior season. If he stays that way, fans can see a return of some actual kickoff highlights this season after an absence of the past four seasons.
– Coach Petrino may have found his starting left tackle in Kevin Mack, convincing him that he has fully recovered from the leg injury that sideline him last season. Kelby Johnson saw only sparring duty during the scrimmage.
– Luke Brohm, the cousin of Brian, Jeff and Greg, is continuing the Brohm family tradition, the redshirt junior playing fullback during the scrimmage. He pulled in a pass as well, wanting to prove another Brohm can contribute to this team’s success.
The demolition crew apparently has taken the weekend off after battling the mighty silos on the University of Louisville campus all week. The number of silos still standing is now down to 11 from the 22 that have finally met their match after withstanding anything and everything man and Mother Nature could throw at them for over 100 years at the Floyd Street location.