Cold Shoulders, Chairbacks & Rutgers Game

The next big question challenging some Louisville football fans is whether they will make it to the Rutgers game next week. Wanting to make some kind of statement about the coaching staff, as if all the whining and gnashing of teeth could have somehow been ignored.

Don’t want to get weepy on you but there are many reasons to go, including the fact that it’s Brian Brohm’s final college game. It’s the last time to see Harry Douglas, Art Carmody, Gary Barnidge, Scott Kuhn, Malik Jackson, Jonathan Russell, Preston Smith, Breno Giacomini, and Willie Williams. Guys who put their bodies on the line, taking you to Orange, Gator and Liberty bowls.

Unfortunately, it may be the last U of L football game we’ll see this season. No more train whistles, fireworks, marching band, no more tailgating, no more leaving two or three hours before games to avoid traffic congestion, no more Card Marches. Probably no bowl. Won’t see your neighbor seat holders till next year. College football is fun, more fun when you’re winning, and it keeps on giving even during the lean years.

Programs like Michigan, Notre Dame and Tennessee will always thrive and grow. Their fans endure the losing along with the winning — sure they complain if their teams are losing — but they will be there. Sure tradition helps, but they didn’t always have tradition. And you can’t thrive on tradition alone. People passionate about their teams can’t be ignored when crucial decisions are made. Fan bases that dissipate during troubled times can expect the worst.

Fortunately, Louisville football will survive and prosper, despite the turmoil currently surrounding the program. Tom Jurich thinks long term, already taking the first step to get the stadium expanded. He will do whatever is necessary to get things back on track. It helps U of L to know you are there, through good times and bad.

Go to the Rutgers game, enjoy the chairbacks and college football. Surely, we’ve seen the worst. Might even win.

Bad Thing Happens To A Good Guy

Fans will never know just how good a player David Padgett could have been at the University of Louisville. The shocker of the day is that his college career is probably over, busted kneecap just when it appeared he was going to start enjoying basketball for a change.

Padgett has battled adversity since his sophomore year, playing through pain and undergoing five different surgeries. This one hurts for a number of reasons. He’s the kind of person you want to be successful in everything he does.

A memory that will last is the image of 6-foot-11 David jokingly extending his arms out over Koby, my then 8-year-old grandson, as he attempts to shoot a free throw at a Pitino basketball camp a couple of years ago. It’s one worth sharing as we try to digest the awful news. (Click on the photo to see a larger image.)

Good luck, David. We appreciate everything you have done, on and off the basketball court, and we’ll keep pulling for you.

Monday Morning Memo

To Louisville Football Fans:

You deserve better than what you saw on the football field this season.

You’ve seen defensive players not lined up correctly, inexplicably out of position on crucial pass plays, unable to put pressure on quarterbacks, forgetting how to tackle, wilting in the path of big backs, getting injured at an unprecedented pace, spending too much time on the field, and giving inconsistent effort from one play to the next.

You’ve witnessed former offensive stars becoming sub par, dismissed, suspended, injured or just plain missing, often without any explanation. You’ve seen Brian Brohm, a hometown favorite, go from having a legendary college career to an embarrassing senior season. You’ve grimaced as Harry Douglas, Mario Urrutia and other talented receivers always seem to be covered like glue. The tight ends, as well.

You’ve endured an offensive backfield that includes Brock Bolen, Anthony Allen, George Stripling and Sergio Spencer (remember him?) now struggle to get 80 yards a game. You’ve wondered why a talent like Bilal Powell was limited to mop-up action.

Still, most of you have bent over backwards to give the new coaching staff the benefit of doubt much of the season. You’ve waited, patiently, for the light to go on, for this team to show glimpses of past greatness. But it hasn’t happened, and you’re wondering how many more future seasons will resemble this one.

If this writer could offer any ray of hope, it would be that the deficiencies we have seen this season are so obvious that they can’t be ignored. My gut feeling, and I don’t have any inside information, is that major changes will be forthcoming when this season concludes. The program has come too far to be allowed to further embarrass the university.

South Florida Sorries

— If you muff the opening kickoff on the road, the odds are good that it’s going to be a long, long night.
— A laugher is a game where the TV cameras stay focused on the South Florida quarterback for much of the fourth quarter. Were the Bulls having fun, or were they just laughing? At who or what? Don’t want to know.
— The producers could have used a still photo of Kragthorpe; his body profile and facial expression rarely changed.
— That flash of excellence you saw late at running back late was Bilal Powell.
— Was there ever a longer, more frustrating football game?

* * *
Met a couple of West Virginia fans at the hotel after the game. They couldn’t recall WVU fans calling for Rich Rodriguez’ job, even after he won only three games out of 11 in his first year at the helm. What he had going for him was that he was a West Virginia lad. Go figure.

Off And Running

The basketball Cards did what was expected in dispatching Hartford 104-69 in the University of Louisville’s season opener. Some impressions:

— Terrence Williams looks like Darrell Griffith-plus, with even more athleticism than we remembered. A reverse double-clutch dunk, 14 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds. He will be legendary simply for his dunks but his other contributions are so much more valuable.

— Edgar Sosa will start again, and soon. For this team to come close to its potential, Edgar must realize his talents extend far beyond shooting; that’s when basketball will become fun again.

— Will need more than 16 minutes from Derrick Caracter as the schedule toughens. Still seems foul-prone. Officials expect him to foul, too, so they tend to anticipate.

— Can’t wait to see David Padgett against a good post man, brings out the best in him.

Still not quite into basketball, football grieving continues.