No better option than Jurich for the University of Louisville

 

Cindy Rice Shelton photo

Make no mistake, there should be no confusion. Keeping Tom Jurich is the right thing to do.

Surely common sense will prevail, and the Board of Trustees will retain him as Vice President of Athletics at the University of Louisville. There are no guarantees, however, that what’s best for the school will prevail these days.

The notion of someone seriously entertaining the notion of firing Jurich is outlandish, insulting to the school’s alumni and supporters. Over two decades he has garnered unprecedented support, making UofL the most dynamic institution in the community.

But these are not normal times, what’s up is down, what’s backward is forward, what’s out is in, bad taste is in good taste, what was once repugnant is considered the norm, and good people are often construed as bad actors. Crazy times.

Tom Jurich wants his old job back even though it means answering to David Grissom and Greg Postel (Charlie Springer photo).

Why Tom Jurich would want to go back to work for David Grissom and Greg Postel, the people reportedly wanting his job, is almost beyond comprehension. These are individuals who apparently consider the success of the athletic department a negative, unable to comprehend the positive role of sports in UofL’s rapid growth.

To people who have been a part of this success, enjoyed all the new facilities, all the outstanding athlete and all the wins during Jurich’s tenure, the intentions of Grissom and Postel are counterproductive. So intent on seizing total control of the University that they are willing to sacrifice someone who can ensure the school’s development continues.

What I have never understood is why Grissom and Postel could not appreciate the success of the athletic department. Why they couldn’t look at that success and want to emulate it for the rest of the University. Why they felt compelled to challenge the individual who made it happen. Why they wouldn’t want to get this individual in their camp, work with him and get him involved in resolving many of the school’s other challenges.

Grissom and Postel appear to share a similar management philosophy, wanting to clean house of people in power from the previous administration. Ignoring what they have done and what they can do, believing they know what’s best. Based on some obscure business principles from some antiquated management courses. What they haven’t been able to do, however, is convince UofL supporters and fans that they have the school’s best interests in mind.

The only agenda Tom Jurich has is to continue the incomparable growth and success of the school’s athletic program. He wants to be there when UofL cuts the ribbon on the 10,000-seat expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and when another 3,000-seat expansion of Jim Patterson Stadium is completed.

He wants to be there when UofL teams are competing for national championships, when UofL athletes are competing for gold medals. He needs to be there to ensure the right person is hired for the next UofL coaching vacancy. He wants to be there to help guide the basketball program back from the current crisis.

“I love this University, the Louisville community and all of our fans,” said Jurich in a recent statement. “I plan to continue to help UofL overcome the challenges it faces and work cooperatively with the University with the support of the UofL Board of Trustees … ”

That is why he wants to return, even if means answering to Grissom and Postel. Something anyone other than a UofL fan would have a hard time believing.

Based on his track record, Tom Jurich deserves the opportunity to return to do the job he loves. There is no better option for members of the Board of Trustees, nor for the University of Louisville.

No stopping Boston College for UofL’s leaky defense

Louisville’s defensive line needed lots of help from linebacker Dorian Etheridge (17). He would make nine solo tackles and get five assists (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Wide receiver Jaylen Smith finally back in action, with 118 yards on six catches.

Wide receiver Dez Fitzpatrick as good as ever, turning seven catches into 127 yards, including a touchdown.

Running back Reggie Bonnafon actually breaking loose for a 64-yard touchdown.

Lamar Jackson tossed for three touchdowns and ran for two others (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Quarterback Lamar Jackson living up to his reputation, with more amazing stats, including 181 yards and three touchdowns rushing, 323 yards and two touchdowns passing.

Some nice offensive stats, just not enough of them.

The University of Louisville’s offense could still be putting up points but there would never be enough. The defense was incapable of stopping Boston College, the Cardinals losing 45-42 in a three-ring offensive circus before 44,679 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

UofL’s defense remained as porous as always, seemingly unable to stop anyone on the first tackle attempt, usually on the second or third attempt. Not a pretty picture, foreshadowing visions of even more dismal performances in the weeks ahead against stronger opponents.

The exception was UofL linebacker Dorian Etheridge, the 6-foot-3 freshman winding up with nine solo tackles and five assists.

Jaylen Smith’s joyous return would be spoiled by a fumble following a catch with less than two minutes remaining at UofL’s 30-yard line. Just a matter of time, Boston College wasn’t going to be denied, converting a 27-yard field goal for the win in the closing seconds.

Boston College’s first Atlantic Coast Conference win since 2014, Louisville’s third ACC loss in four games this season. More than likely, it’s going to get uglier before it gets better for UofL football. Prepare yourself.

Trent Johnson was ready for call from Louisville

Trent Johnson is one happy man today, having landed a job as an assistant coach with the University of Louisville basketball program. Happily giving up the routine of a beloved grandfather in retirement to return to the game he loves.

To work with David Padgett, a person he has known and respected for a long time. Johnson’s son Terry played on the same team with Padgett at Reno High School when Johnson was head basketball coach at University of Nevada.

David Padgett needed a seasoned professional and Trent Johnson was the logical choice (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Padgett describing Johnson as a person be will be able to lean on and his players can relate. “I think under the circumstances, I don’t think that we could find a better hire,” he said.

“I accept the responsibility to David, his staff, the players on this team to continue anyway possible to sustain the standard of excellence that Louisville basketball is all about,” said Johnson.

“My agenda is come in and help him morning, noon and night to be the best possible team, the best possible players they can be socially, academically and athletically.

“I’m ready to do anything Coach wants me to do.”

Johnson had been out the game for a year since he was fired at TCU but said he wasn’t ready to be retired. “I’m a lifer,” he said. “Basketball is a big part of my life. I was going to be in somebody’s gym sooner or later.”

He has a lifetime won-lost record of 236-88 after coaching stints at Nevada, Stanford, LSU and TCU. He also served as an assistant at Utah, Washington, Rice and Stanford.

So Johnson has been around, quite a bit, experienced more than a few ups and downs. Happy to be at UofL. “It’s Louisville,” he said, acknowledging the UofL as one of the sport’s elite programs.

Contributions to athletics by UofL Trustees are weak

Fans who may be apprehensive about future support for athletics from the University of Louisville trustees may have reason to be concerned. The levels of giving range from generous in some cases to abysmal in others.

And apparently giving back to academics is way down on their list of personal priorities.

That’s according to a report obtained from UofL by Card Game through an open records request. The report includes lifetime giving for academics and athletics through August 9th — and it does not differentiate between personal and corporate giving.

The vast majority of trustees have been tightfisted in their financial support, especially in athletics. In fact, eight of the 13 trustees have never donated anything to the athletic program. Overall giving to academics was worse although 11 trustees have made donations. Two of them had yet to give anything to UofL.

There are some notable exceptions, with John Schnatter, through his company’s name brand sponsorship of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, receiving credit for a total of $19.1 million-plus for athletics and another $5.7 million-plus for academics.

Sandra Frazier, the owner of Tandem Communications, has contributed $5.3 million-plus to academics and $10,350 to athletics. She is, of course, the niece of Owsley B. Frazier, who was a multi-million contributor to numerous programs throughout the university, including athletics.

Interesting that J. David Grissom, chairman of Glenview Trust and chairman of the board of trustees, is among the leading contributors to athletics at a sum of $20,000. His financial support for academics, meanwhile, comes in at $108,047. Not all that generous for one of the community’s most successful investors, especially one who graduated from UofL’s law school.

James Rogers, retired chief operating officer of J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons Inc. and an advisor to other investment funds, has given $50,350 to athletics. Rogers, a UofL grad, is also a member of the University of Louisville Athletic Association.

The only other trustee who had contributed to athletics was Ronald B. Wright, a physician who had made $1,500 in donations to athletics. A graduate of UofL Medical School, he practices obstetrics and gynecology in Jeffersonville.

Eight trustees — a group consisting of Bonita Black, Brian Cromer, William Armstrong, Raymond Burse, Nitin Sahney, Enid Trucious-Haynes, Diane Medley and Vishnu Tirumala — have given no money to athletics.

— Armstrong and Cromer are graduates of the University of Kentucky, having given $640 and $75 to academics.  Armstrong is a personnel analyst in UofL’s Department of Surgery. Cromer is a partner at Stites & Harbison law firm.

— Medley, who founded MCM CPA’s in Louisville, has contributed $25,650 to academics. She’s a UofL graduate, valedictorian of her class.

— Trucious-Haynes, a faculty member in the UofL School of Law, has given $4,748 to academics. She’s a Stanford grad.

— Burse, who served briefly as President at Kentucky State University, has given $520 to academics.

— Vishnu Tirumala, who is President of UofL’s Student Government, has given $356 to academics.

Two trustees — Bonita Black, a UK grad who manages Steptoe & Johnson law firm in Louisville, and Nitin S. Sahney, a healthcare executive and Punjab (India) grad –have yet to write their first check to UofL.

A consultant to the University of Louisville Foundation recently suggested that the best way for UofL to restore the faith of donors in the University would be for the trustees to make “visible and meaningful” gifts. The advice had yet to be acted upon by numerous members of this board as of the date of the report.

Sure wins have disappeared from UofL football schedule

The game at North Carolina State was expected to provide a barometer of where the University of Louisville stands in the college football landscape. The conclusion following a 39-25 thrashing is not deniable, that the Cardinals are close to being on life support.

Unfortunately UofL has few offensive options than Lamar Jackson in the running game and it’s finally catching up with the Cardinals (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

An embarrassing offensive performance, with UofL leaning heavily on quarterback Lamar Jackson for everything but returning kickoffs and punts. Jackson running for 102 of Louisville’s 119 rushing yards and passing for 354 yards.

The offensive line, which was supposed to be improved, has yet to arrive, giving up four Jackson sacks and losses for 30 yards. Making it even more difficult for running back Malik Williams and Reggie Bonnafon, getting only 10 handoffs for 44 yards between them.

What once appeared to be a light football schedule has become a barricade.

UofL’s passing defense is almost non-existent as well, consistently giving up 300 yards through the air to four Power Five opponents. Scenes of UofL defenders flailing at receivers, allowing opponents to march down the field at ease, have become commonplace.

Jackson, who was supposed to be older and smarter, is older but his decisions aren’t getting any better. Those short bullet passes to receivers aren’t any easier to handle and the overthrows down field are becoming more frequent. He completed only 26 of 48 passing attempts against NC State.

One want to give him credit for hanging on to the ball, with no fumbles, but that one interception in the fourth quarter was a game clincher for the Wolfpack. By then UofL was totally predictable and a pick six was inevitable.

What once appeared to be a light football schedule is now a barricade. The immediate future littered with “formidable” opponents like Boston College, Wake Forest, Florida State, Virginia, Syracuse and Kentucky. None of them no longer considered sure wins.