Another reminder of the importance of college football in Louisville came when U of L basketball coach Rick Pitino devoted 11 minutes of his pre-season remarks to the football coaching issue.
Pitino said any time you see a coach suspending players, it means he “won’t sacrifice his principles for winning games, he’s building a program, he’s not trying to win a half, and you know he’s doing the right thing.”
Pitino is right. He also recognizes that football fever has gripped Louisville over the last several years and the community expects to win. Be patient, he is saying, we’re thinking long-term here.
So we hear that Black Coaches Association has awarded an “F” to U of L for the process through which the university hired the new football coach. The BCA gets the headlines it seeks but you have to wonder whether the group did its homework. Did they not know Ron Cooper was our coach for three years? Or does history not count?
Among the BCA’s criteria was the racial composition of the search committees. The problem with search committees is that they often include well-meaning faculty reps with not a clue about football, as we learned when Schnellenberger departed.
Even though the football season has disappointed, we still prefer to have Tom Jurich make those decisions for us. By the way, he reportedly had Karl Dorrell, the black coach at UCLA, on his short list. Did the BCA even think to ask?
Much too early for a conclusion but is it possible that this year’s U of L football team plays better on the road than at home? Thus far, they have. The Cards were one play away from beating Kentucky in Lexington and defeated North Carolina State by 19 in Raleigh. They may just need some time away from the home crowd, with all the bewildered fans.
The Cincinnati Enquirer, which has taken a renewed interest in the UC program since being blasted by Coach Brian Kelly for ignoring the Bearcats early on, provided some bulletin board material for Coach Kragthorpe with the headline,“Cards Not Ranked, Just Rank.”
What’s scary, though, is the quote in the same story by Kragthorpe that likely will not appear in the bulletin post posting:
While Kelly is concerned about Brohm and the other offensive weapons that Louisville has at its disposal, Kragthorpe is equally wary of what the Bearcats can do on offense, especially when they go to their fast-break, no-huddle offense:
“There were 10 or 12 times in the game against Rutgers where Rutgers’ front seven was not even lined up,” Kragthorpe said. “They hadn’t broken the huddle.
“It’s a challenge in terms of the tempo of the game. You’ve got to be ready to play the next play as soon as the last play is concluded.”
How does Cincinnati manage to attract good players at a location which, before this year has always had difficulty filling the stadium unless UC was playing Louisville? It says something about the quality of high school football in Ohio.
UC’s progress in football is good for the Big East if it’s true that the strength of the traditionally lower tier teams is a barometer of the league’s overall strength. Now if only U of L and Syracuse can get their acts together.
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The most biting quote of the week thus far came from Tom Heiserwho declared on his CJ fan blog that the Kragthorpe staff has “not solved any of the glaring shortcomings that have plagued the team since Murray State’s opening drive.”
Never really got to know Ron Steiner as a person. Knew him as a writer, however, and he was among the best when it came to U of L sports. The very best. The founder of the Louisville Sports Report died last Thursday as a result of complications following a heart transplant at the Cleveland Clinic. Before relinquishing control of the publication last year, Ron wrote a weekly column. If I never read anything else, I read that column. His research was thorough, his prose was brilliant, and his optimism never wavered.
Howard Schnellenberger brought Ron with him when he came to Louisville in 1985. It didn’t take long to figure out why. Ron was a contributor. Sorry I waited so long for the tribute, Ron, but couldn’t find your photo anywhere on the net (thanks Howie Lindsey). You are missed but still providing inspiration.
Sorry we won’t get to see you play anymore. Those flashes of speed you have shown, especially on the 90-plus-yard kickoff return against Rutgers last year, had fans wanting to see more and more of your running skills.
But alas. You’re gone for the season. The coach tells us you may return next year. But our gut feeling tells us we’ll probably never see you again.
Prove us wrong, JaJuan. Go to class. Keep doing your workouts. Respect the coaches. Avoid the inevitable pitfalls that tempt every college student. You can return and be a great college football player, maybe even star in the National Football League some day.