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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.

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Record 55,428 see Louisville thump Miami, 31-13

September 2, 2014 0 Comments

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The atmosphere was electric on an historic night for the University of Louisville, the first game for the football program as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

The Watterson Expressway was already backed up at the Crittenden Drive exit, an hour before the traffic patrols would arrive and three hours before kickoff. The Green Lot was near capacity, too, except for the the usual spots near the stadium, with UofL fans ready for some serious tailgating, taking full advantage of the Labor Day holiday. Many had arrived a couple of hours earlier and were well into their food and beverage stockpiles.

They don’t keep records of participants in Card March but the days when everyone in the crowd could personally high-five the players going into the tunnel are history if Monday’s event is an indication of things to come. The tunnel, the area outside the area, and the walkway leading to the tunnel were all packed with well wishers. The Budweiser concession booth will have to be moved because Card March overran their exhibit area. Fans waving cameras in the air, hoping they get lucky but obviously too far away.

Card March doesn't get any better than this.

Card March doesn’t get any better than this.

The sidelines on the field were packed, anyone with a connection there, media, bloggers, two or three dozen football recruits, ACC executives of every stripe, ESPN camera crews, cheerleaders, Ladybirds, tough to move around, almost as crowded as the corridors beneath Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The crowd a record gathering of 55,548, including at least 1,500 fans from Miami. There were the familiar faces in Section 234 but also a lot of new ones, eager to be a part of something special. Dressed in black, many of them from head to toe on a Black Out Night. They had staying power, too, the vast majority of them hanging around until the last two minutes of the game. Remarkable the night before a work day or school day for many. They were obviously enjoying being a part of something special for the University, including a great football game.

Zanne Koehne cheers for the Cardinals and Vikings for obvious reasons.

Zanne Koehne cheers for the Cardinals and Vikings for obvious reasons.

On the field, there was Bobby Petrino, ready to resume where he left off seven years ago. Bringing back the black uniforms, that aggressive offense of his, and wanting to get to the end zone at every opportunity, wanting to notch some style points, adding another touchdown with less than two minutes remaining. Gotta tweak that offense every opportunity, get the kinks out, leave no doubt that his team had dominated.

Dominique Brown, a one-man wrecking crew on offense, carrying that ball 33 times for 143 yards and a touchdown. None more impressive than on UofL’s final clock-crunching drive that consumed almost eight minutes, Brown carrying the ball nine times for 39 yards — denying Miami any hope of getting back in contention. That drive capped off by 10-yard touchdown pass from Will Gardner to Gerald Christian.

Gardner, in his first start as quarterback, completing 10 of 28 passes for 206 yards, not Teddy Bridgewater flashy but a solid performance, even with that fumble on his own seven yard line in the second quarter. A rookie quarterback mistake but he wasn’t throwing any interceptions against a defense that was better prepared than the one UofL defeated 36-9 in the Russell Bowl last season.

The play of the night, of course, that sensational Corvin Lame kickoff return for 97 yards. Miami players never had a chance once he crossed his own 30-yard line, still chasing the kid from Miami in their nightmares.

Louisville vs. Miami, ESPN, 8 p.m.

September 1, 2014 0 Comments

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ACC initiation ceremony beckons Louisville football against Miami

August 31, 2014 3 Comments

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Welcome to the Atlantic Coast Conference. For real.

A new era begins Monday night for University of Louisville athletics, the first conference game ever in the ACC for any University of Louisville team in any sport. Appropriate that it would be in football because it was the sport that drove conference realignment, unprecedented changes in the college landscape making it possible for UofL to be on the main stage.

Lots of celebrating and self-congratulating over the past summer and the last year or so, punctuated by the demolition of massive silos, an impressive expansion of student housing, academic facilities and an ever-changing campus landscape. Louisville belongs, a member of the big boy club, welcomed with open arms by the respected members of the prestigious ACC.

'The aggressive approach has always worked well for Petrino in football, just as it turned out spendidly for Tom Jurich in the larger chess game of conference realignment.'

Now it’s time to get down to business.

While UofL’s first game against Miami is accompanied by the enthusiasm of the return of Coach Bobby Petrino and his aggressive offensive philosophy, there is lots of uncertainty to go around. A complete turnover in the coaching staff brings with it a learning curve, new plays, new ways of doing things, new offensive and defensive alignments, new officiating crews — items that often require periods of adjustment.

Then, of course, there’s the absence of DeVante Parker, the team’s leading receiver, and questions surrounding the availability of Michael Dyer, who was expected to back at full force until he suffered an severe bruised thigh. Some untested newcomers on the offensive and defensive lines.

Lot of questions from fans, serious challenges for the coaches, the kind of stuff Petrino relishes, why he thrives on being a football coach. Petrino has indicated that he liked what he inherited and has alleviated some of the shortcomings. If he’s optimistic, who’s to question him?

At 8 p.m. on Labor Day, the captains of the Cardinals and the Hurricanes will meet with the officials on the 50-yard line for the coin toss. The only thing for sure is that Louisville will get the ball first. If UofL wins the coin toss, it will choose to receive. If Miami wins, it will defer until the second half, not wanting to test its freshman quarterback too early, going on defense. Bobby Petrino always wants the ball first.

The aggressive approach has always worked well for Petrino in football, just as it turned out spendidly for Tom Jurich in the larger chess game of conference realignment. The challenges are huge, dwarfing some of those from the past with UofL overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles time after time to get to where it is today.

Welcome to the ACC where anything is possible.

7,047 jam Lynn Stadium, men’s soccer conquers No. 2 Maryland

August 29, 2014 0 Comments

opening day University of Louisville soccer has come a long way since the men’s team played its games out on Shelby Campus in the late Seventies when maybe two or three dozen people would roam the sidelines.

On Friday night, the men’s and women’s teams played a doubleheader before 7,047 fans on the opening day of Lynn Stadium, the dream stadium for college soccer teams. The women’s team defeating Mississippi 1-0 in the first game and the men’s team upending No. 2 Maryland 1-0 in the nightcap.

Attendance was the second highest ever for a soccer game in the state, exceeded only by the UofL-UCLA regional championship populated by 7,821 fans in December 2010.

An historic day, worth preserving with a video of the opening ceremonies for people who missed out on another UofL milestone, joined in progress. At about the 6:20 mark, Tom Jurich can be heard, telling the observer to get the silos in the video:

B Simm out with 2014 Louisville football blast

August 28, 2014 0 Comments

Screenshot 2014-08-28 23.00.34The music release is “It’s Card Time” and according to B Simm, Louisville football is going roll through the Atlantic Coast Conference like it did the Big East and it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is. Go to Itunes and add it to your UofL tailgating library for 99 cents.

Countdown to kickoff: Louisville basketball schedule released

August 28, 2014 0 Comments

Screenshot 2014-08-28 10.26.38Right on schedule, five days before the opening kickoff of the football season, the 2014-15 University of Louisville basketball schedule has been released.

We keep hearing how it takes months to finalize the schedule but it always comes out the last week of August. This season’s release all but obscured in the excitement leading up to Monday’s football opener against Miami.

This town can’t wait for the football season to begin, some fans complaining that 2 p.m. is too late in the day to open the Green Lot for tailgating for an 8 p.m. kickoff.

A clear sign of just how far football has come in Louisville over the past decade.  UofL has won two BCS bowls and finished in the top 10 twice, sixth in the Associated Press poll in 2004 and 2006. The Cards were 19th in the 2005 poll and 13th after the 2013 campaign.

Not too many years ago, the new basketball schedule would have been a serious distraction. Thankfully, those days are history.

Regardless, the basketball schedule is probably the toughest in UofL’s rich history, featuring home games against Duke, North Carolina, Ohio State and Kentucky and a challenging father-son matchup against NIT champion Minnesota at a U.S. Air Force facility in Puerto Rico.  Eighteen games with Atlantic Coast Conference foes, including a February 18th showdown at Syracuse.

Football first, however.

 

Ken Lolla: New Louisville stadium forever changes college soccer

August 27, 2014 1 Comment
Mark Lynn (in dark suit) and family cut the ribbon. Twenty-one family members participated.

Dr. Mark Lynn (in dark suit) and family cut the ribbon. Twenty-one family members participated.

A five-minute thunderstorm half way through the ribbon-cutting ceremonies couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd that turned out Thursday for the official opening of the Dr. Mark & Cindy Lynn Soccer Stadium on the University of Louisville campus.

The entire setting had an historic feel to it with all dazzling graphics throughout the stadium, the demolition of the silos in the background, and with a 50-car freight train passing by on the north end of the field.

Tom Jurich does it again.

Tom Jurich does it again.

Ken Lolla, coach of the UofL men’s soccer team, thanked Tom Jurich, vice president of athletics for his visionary thinking, proclaiming that college soccer would be forever changed by the completion of this particular stadium.

“Student athletes are going to come play in here and have an experience like they’ve never had,” said Lolla. “There will be coaches who will come in here and go back to their athletic directors and athletic departments and say, ‘We need to do something more. We need to do something better.’

“Because of that inspiration and the vision we have created, the big winner is going to be college soccer. This date is historic. College soccer will never be same.”

Benefactor Mark Lynn, who, along with this wife Cindy, donated $5 million to help build the $18 million plus stadium, said he was just honored to be a small piece of the process. “I love this university and am excited to be a part of such a dynamic program,” he said.

Ken-Lolla-Louisville-SoccerCoach Ken Lolla gets the crown jewel of college soccer stadiums. The silos will be gone next week.

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