Remember When: Alabama-Louisville — the first game on the big screen TV

Squaring off against Alabama in the opening game of the 2018 college football season brings back rich memories of UofL’s last game against the Crimson Tide in 1991. A New Year’s Day nationally-televised appearance in the Fiesta Bowl.

Howard Schnellenberger had four weeks to prepare for Alabama.

Easily the biggest game in UofL football history at the time, Alabama was a prohibitive favorite,expected to easily roll over Louisville. The fact that UofL Coach Howard Schnellenberger had almost a month to prepare for Alabama was lost on the sports media, along with Louisville’s 9-1-1 record that season.

Three days before the game, I had forked over big bucks for a huge console TV, with a 48-inch screen, encased in a walnut cabinet. State of the art, it would be main attraction in the basement. I couldn’t wait for it to be delivered the night before the big game.

I told my wife the TV was going down to the basement if I had to start cutting holes in ceilings and walls.

The call came from Smith’s Furniture that they were on the way. I figured it would take a while for them to get there so I dashed out to a video store to rent a movie. I returned home, video cassette in hand, eager to get acquainted.

But to my shock, sitting smack dab in the center of the family room sat the big new TV.  Where the guys from Smith’s Furniture had left it, having convinced my wife it was too big to go downstairs to the basement. Wouldn’t be able to get around the corner into the basement. they told her. Lots of company coming by the next day for the Fiesta Bowl party.

Panic time. Calls to Smith’s Furniture were to no avail, they were already closed for the holiday. I told Barbara the TV was going to get to the basement if I had to start cutting holes in ceilings and walls.

Desperate, I called Joe, our next door neighbor, and he called another neighbor. Three anxious and perspiring individuals, refusing to accept failure, were slowly and cautiously able to get it down the steps and around the corner. Finally, there it was –a monument to persistence and fanaticism.

The next day came a football game-watching party that will never be equalled. Browning Nagle completing a 70-yard pass for a touchdown to Latrell Ware, Ralph Dawkins scoring on a five-yard run, a 37-yard pass to Anthony Cummings for another TD, and a UofL recovery of a fumble in the Alabama end zone. UofL was up 25-0 after the first quarter. The Cardinals would win the game, 34-7, shocking the world of college football.

The TV was in the basement for about eight years before getting handed  down to Steve. I wasn’t there when he arrived with friends so I’ll never know how he got it out of the house. “Leverage, dad,” he said. “Simple leverage.”

Walz takes home the gold for USA women’s basketball

FIBA Site Screen Shot

Jeff Walz continues his winning ways, leading the USA to gold in Mexico City.

Made it look easy they did, Jeff Walz and his United States basketball team in winning the International Basketball Federation’s world championship for women under 18 in Mexico City.

Walz, the University of Louisville women’s basketball coach, guided the USA team to the gold medal with an 84-60 win over Canada on Tuesday.  His teams are undefeated with a 9-0 record, including three wins in a Tokyo tournament last year.

UofL is recruiting two players on the team for the 2019 class. Aijah Blackwell, a six-foot guard from Whitfield School in Berkeley, Missouri, had eight points and four rebounds in the championship game. Maori Davenport, a 6-foot-4 forward from Henderson, Alabama, had seven points and six rebounds.  

The USA team averaged 93.2 per game, winning by an average of 47.5 points per outing, out-rebounding the opposition by 29.5 rebounds, while allowing 15 fewer points on average than any other team.

Game by game:

USA 87, Argentina 42
USA 115, Chile 39
USA 103, Puerto Rico 59
USA 87, El Salvador 27
USA 83, Columbia 47
USA 84, Canada 60 (Championship)

A well-rounded offensive attack, with nine players averaging between seven and 10 points per game. “I thought the players did an outstanding job of looking for each other, instead of looking to make things happen for themselves,” Walz said. “They were trying to get their teammates involved.”

Take a bow, coach. You earned it.

A musical ode to the Pizza Man and fall from grace

Now a song has been written about poor ol’ John Schnatter, the pizza man. Rapidly becoming a cartoon caricature of the kind of person everyone loves to hate. Happy ending not possible.

John Schnatter and his wife, Annette, had courtside seats for the University of Louisville-Florida State basketball game (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

The rapid decline of Schnatter from a fabulously successful businessman to an angry and frustrated untouchable is chronicled by Don R. Mueller, PhD, a former physics professor and New York blogger recently profiled in The New York Times.

The blows just keep coming for the disgraced pizza icon. He has a way of offending someone every time he opens his mouth. A casualty of the cultural wars, unable to negotiate the slippery slopes of the politically correct landscape, antagonizing the people who made him filthy rich.

Don Mueller, a New York physicist, chronicled Papa John’s decline in song on YouTube

Always looking for a fight it seems. No longer welcome at Cardinal Stadium or the University of Louisville  campus. The last Papa John’s signs were trucked away from the stadium last week. He’s not even wanted at the corporate headquarters of the company on Papa John’s Boulevard in Louisville.

The Pizza Man discovering the hard way that money can buy only so much love. He has only himself to blame.

Jaire Alexander gives Green Bay needed boost at cornerback

Photo by Cindy Rice Shelton

Fans of opposing National Football League teams can’t be blamed if they  circle the date for games against the Green Bay Packers on their calendars. Same for casual football fans looking for decent games on Sunday afternoons. The Packers are always going to be strong and in the thick of the Super Bowl chase.

University of Louisville fans will have one more special reason to follow the Packers’ fortunes this season. Namely Jaire Alexander, competing for a starting position at cornerback in the rookie year of his professional career.  The Packers traded selections with the Seattle Seahawks to make  Alexander 18th overall pick, the second cornerback  off the board.

Jaire Alexander

When he was well, Alexander was one of the elite-level cornerbacks of this class. Injured in Louisville’s opening game last season, missing six games with a knee injury. UofL was a different team when he returned, winning four of its last five regular season games, including a second straight victory over Florida State.

The Packers haven’t had the best history with first-round cornerbacks, but there’s an aura around Alexander and an influx of optimism. It’s still early but reports from the Packer camp indicate that Alexander is seriously quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ passing accuracy in pre-season workouts.

Rodgers, who broke his collarbone in week six and played in only seven games last season, appears to have fully recovered. Pretty potent combination with Rodgers quarterbacking the offense and Alexander running free in the defensive backfield. According to Betway, the Packers are 13/2 favorites to win the NFC, and will give defending Super Bowl champs Philadelphia Eagles all they can handle.

Expect Jaire Alexander to play a major role in Green Bay’s return to prominence.

Catching up on 2018 college football rule changes

Finally, there’s hope that still another long hot summer may be nearing an end. Summer camp for University of Louisville football getting underway next week.  Time to get familiar with the new rule changes in effect during the 2018 season.

Kickoff: Players will able to fair catch the football for a fair catch anywhere between the 25-yard line and the back of the end zone. The ball will be placed on the 25-yard line. The change will detract from one of the more exciting parts of the game. It is intended to reduce the number of injuries on kickoff returns. Punt returns can’t be far behind.

— Blocking: The offense will not be allowed to block below the waist more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Other than the interior linemen, all blocks below the waist must be from the front. The change introduces the potential for more judgemental and controversial calls.

Play Clock:  After touchdowns, the play clock will be set at 40 seconds to expedite the extra point or two-point conversion attempt. Following a kickoff, the play clock will also be set to 40 seconds to restart play more quickly.

— Leaping Over Players: Defenders will not be able to leap over opposing players on field goals or extra points. The rule applied only to punts last season. Presumably because defensive players have an edge over offensive blockers in crouching positions.

— Replay Reviews:  Reviews of controversial or challenged calls may be conducted by officials at locations other than the stadium in which the game is played. Such as at conference office in another location. Expect this change to result in more delays in the game in many instances.

–Last Minute of the Half: A 10-second runoff when  an instant replay overturns the ruling on the field inside of one minute in either half, and the correct ruling would not have stopped the game clock. A critical period during the game, requiring quick thinking for officials.

— Field Goal Penalties:  On successful field goals, penalty enforcement will be the same as on made extra points, with penalties implemented on the ensuing kickoff.  Long overdue.