Fans of the Week

Remember the male cheerleader who proposed to a female cheerleader before the North Carolina game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium a couple of years ago? Well, they have taken the next step and tied the knot.

Jessica Darnell and Jim Hill got married at Fern Creek United Methodist Church last summer. Among the guests were David Padgett of the basketball team and numerous other cheerleaders.

I have literally known Jessica since she was a baby, remember carrying her around at covered plate lunches in the church basement. She always had a smile and a hug for everyone. Great student, too. Jim was the best to ever lead cheers during the band’s opening ceremonies.

They are my choice for my first Fan of the Week feature. A great distraction from all the talk about suspensions, injuries and missing defenses.

Whoa, what’s going on here?

Still more players suspended?

What should we make of this? Willie Williams booted off the team last week for driving without a license but with marijuana. Jajuan Spillman for a similar incident in January that just landed in court last week. Now George Stripling for a violation of team rules? Three players were booted off the team during the off season.

Obviously, Steve Kragthorpe is making a point, that he will not tolerate activities that will reflect badly on the team. The question is why Bobby Petrino did not have similar problems, at least on the surface.

Could it be that the problems existed under Petrino but he had a different way of handling them? He wasn’t a nice guy, in fact many of the players despised him. He kept them around because he needed them?

We may never know for sure about Petrino’s style. But we do know that Kragthorpe will not tolerate questionable activities. Reminds me of a new executive arriving on the scene. He establishes his own rules, cleans house if necessary and sets new standards.

Or could it be that the coach is considered naive, such a nice guy that players think they can get away with things?

You still have to respect a coach who, despite controversy over his team’s performance, insists on players abiding by the rules. He is in charge, no doubt about that. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

What Booing?

Everybody seems to want to chime in on some booing during the Syracuse game, even basketball coach Rick Pitino. WDRB-TV’s Bill Lamb actually did an editorial.

Huh? Makes you wonder how many of these folks were actually at the game. From where I sat, there probably were a few boos here and there. Out of a crowd of almost 41,000 people, there may have been a couple of thousand people booing for brief periods.

It was a smattering of boos at most. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time. Some fans, no matter which team they follow, just can’t control themselves. Nothing to get alarmed about.

As for all the people who left the stadium in the second half, I wouldn’t read too much into it. I wasn’t among them. It was 95 degrees and our team looked awful. Why stick around and be miserable. I would never leave because there’s no place I would rather be than at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The High Road

Before Saturday’s win over NC State, I can’t remember such negative vibes around a U of L program, including basketball. That covers more years than I care to admit as a fan. I’ve seen athletic directors come and go, but Tom Jurich is an exceptional individual.

With his keen insight into coaching personalities and his vision for the university, Tom Jurich is one of the best things that ever happened for U of L. We are fortunate to have him, especially with the way U of L started this year. Commenting on Coach Steve Kragthorpe, Tom told the Louisville Sports Report last week:

“Steve is a very solid guy … His background and credentials were impeccable, and that is why I hired him. He has what it takes to be our head coach, and he turned down many jobs to come here. This was a tough spot to come into because the expectations were so high. He accepted the challenge, and he’ll fight through it. He is going to be our long-term coach, and he is going to do a great job here. We’ll get through this … He’s a phenomenal recruiter, he’s proven that already. Everybody is involved. I’ve always said that you find out who your friends during times of adversity.”

Tom added a few words about his own situation:

“We’ve got to get through some tough times right now, and we’re going to fight through it. I’m committed to this place and making it work, and this is something that’s important to the school, the city and the Big East.”

Thanks Tom. You are the right man in the right place.

Enough Already

So much groaning and moaning on the U of L message boards that it’s obvious some people can’t recover from the season’s poor start. They want to take it out on anybody who expresses hope that the season can be rescued. Some on Inside The Ville (ITV) have made at least two dozen posts, either calling for Kragthorpe’s immediate departure (which isn’t going to happen) or demeaning other posters who want to give him more time.

You would think they had made their point by now. But there are some of them who think they must have the last word. It’s too bad you can just shut them up. But these are these are part and parcel of the Internet age. They have nine lives or nine monikers. To make them go away, you have to learn to steer clear of them. Thank goodness for the “Ignore” option on ITV.

WILLIE II GONE: The loss of Willie Williams, after being arrested on marijuana charges, is an indicator that the down cycle may finally have hit bottom. Let’s hope so anyway.