Card Fan Christmas Tips

Time to get serious about holiday shopping. Okay, or to just start thinking about it for the procrastinators. Over the next couple of weeks, watch for some suggestions. Buy or receive, these will be great gifts for Card fans.

The U of L Scoreboard Clock was introduced last year. Look for it to catch on with fans this time around. Displaying the time, temperature and date, the 12 x 19-inch clock is ideal for the fanatic’s office, game room, bar or family room. Also weatherproof for outdoor use. It’s available at Cardboard Heroes or the Neutral Zone for about $99. Or you can get it from Sports ‘n Chips for $89.95.

If you have suggestions, pass them along for posting here.

Paying The Price For On Field Issues

If anyone needed evidence that new defensive management was necessary, it came early in the first quarter in game twelve. Rutgers’ Ray Rice scampering 10 yards untouched to the end zone, the U of L defense running the other way. Just another glaring error in a season of defensive lapses.

Also during the season, a once proud offensive unit was reduced to relying solely on the arm of Brian Brohm to keep games close or from getting out of hand. One is forced to credit senior leadership for the inexplicable turnaround in the come-from-behind win over Rutgers in the final game.

They needed to go — Mike Cassity and Charlie Stubbs, the coaches with the immediate responsibility for the defensive and offensive units. They were obviously ill-equipped for the challenges they encountered. Other dismissals are sure to follow as their successors assume control.

Steve Kragthorpe gets more time to shape the program in his image. He promotes Jeff Brohm to offensive coordinator, tapping into a mind shaped by offensive geniuses like Howard Schnellenberger and Bobby Petrino. Kragthorpe also finally has the opportunity and time to secure a decent defensive coordinator.

Kragthorpe pointed out during the news conference that out of the past four recruiting classes, there are 43 players no longer associated with program. Where did all these players go? We will probably never know because the local sports media didn’t follow up on this revelation, probably missing their Sunday afternoon naps.

Nor are we likely to learn much more about the extent of the “off the field” issues. Tom Jurich and Steve Kragthorpe will never tell us because they aren’t the sort to point fingers. And there are no “insiders” close to the program willing to shed any light on the issues. Fans will just have to take the coach’s word for it in these litigious times.

That’s a challenge that’s difficult for many to comprehend, especially among those who elevated the players to unprecedented levels after the Orange Bowl victory. Some are simply unable to differentiate between a program that produces solid citizens and good football players and a program that wins without doing both.

Kragthorpe, meanwhile, will continue to pay the price for the losses on the football field.

Slow Motion Turn To Basketball vs. Miami

— Slow dancing and no fun, but good to play a team like Miami early. Lots of lessons, maintaining defensive intensity among the most important. Cards prove to themselves they can do it, rewarded with a win.

— Terrence Williams makes fans wonder how Michael Bramos could possibly be averaging more than 24 points a game, not allowing Bramos to take an uncontested breath. Bramos was fortunate to wind up with five points — hitting one three-pointer but not courtesy of T-will.

— Good to see Edgar Sosa starting, hitting the two free throws this time to give the Cards their final three-point margin. Should do wonders for his confidence.

— Earl Clark just won’t be denied when he makes up his mind to block a shot. Just ask Tim Pollitz, not once, not twice but three times on one trip. Same for when he decides to go inside, hitting two straight clutches to put U of L back on top to stay the end.

— Andre McGee can’t afford to get lackadaisical, just can’t.

— Derrick Caracter, always smiling, just enjoys playing basketball. Would be even more fun without the fouling.

Darrius Ashley Watch

U of L signee Darius Ashley rushed for a Division I title-game record 271 yards (and two touchdowns) as Cincinnati St. Xavier beat Mentor 27-0 for the title Saturday night,

Impressions vs. Rutgers

— Brian Brohm getting emotional, something he rarely ever does. Running with intensity, shaking his head in disgust early on, shouting to himself, playing with pain. More concerned about winning the game than any thoughts about the pros. Brohms have to be the U of L family of the century. Is it true there may be another Brohm in the pipeline?

— Great to see Harry Douglas, shoulder-to-shoulder with Rutgers defenders again, pulling the ball in on the crucial 46-yard pass play, putting the agony of a frustrating season behind him.

— Lamar Myles, Earl Heyman, Preston Smith, L. D. Scott, Bobby Buchanan stopping Ray Rice time after time when the game was on the line. Shame the guy never fumbles, that would have been the ultimate. Rice: “I’ve never been a part of something like this.”

— Trent Guy swaggering onto the field, like something good was going to happen, as it did when he caught a key pass on that game-winning drive.

— Art-O-Matic Art Carmody warming up for the field goal, waiting for this opportunity a long time, nailing it, being foisted in the air by his teammates.

— Bilal Powell. Is this guy the answer to a prayer or what?

— Brock Bolen, running over people again.

— Crowd of 39,600 for a team with a 5-6 record. Proof that college football fervor has gripped this town. Once you get it, it’s hard to let go. I know, I know, many left early. It was a good lesson for them, they’re sorry and they will be back.

— Sorry for all the profanities seat neighbors. Usually more reserved, couldn’t contain myself the first three quarters.

* * *

Darius Ashley Watch: U of L running back signee Darius Ashley’s Cincinnati St. X team (14-0) will play for the Ohio State Division I Championship on Saturday evening against Mentor (11-2).