Keeps On Building

This really isn’t the Tom Jurich fan club blog but, by gosh, we could all learn some life lessons from the man. Let’s hope he writes a book after he resolves the gridiron challenge.

Tom will oversee groundbreaking for a new women’s field hockey facility Thursday evening before a match against Indiana University at 7 p.m. Get there a little early so you can also watch warm ups.

Thanks to a gift from cosmetic surgery specialist Randy Waldman, construction will begin on the new Marshall Center, which include offices for the field hockey staff and new seating for 1,500 spectators. The entire expansion will encompass over 14,000 square feet.

Tom Jurich: Blame or Credit?

The environment surrounding the U of L football program is a painful reminder that many sports fans are woefully shortsighted. The same fans who were calling for Rick Pitino’s head a few months ago now want Steve Kragthorpe gone. Some are even questioning Tom Jurich’s abilities.

Nothing unique about this situation. Fan bases are pretty much the same everywhere, including many duplicitous, selfish and unforgiving people. Win, they’re with you. Lose, they doubt you. Winning, it’s us. Losing, it’s them and the piling on is malicious.

Less than a year ago, the U of L basketball team lost consecutive games to Kentucky and Massachusetts and another one a few games later to Notre Dame. Even an NIT invite was in doubt. The criticism of Pitino was so great that Tom Jurich felt compelled to defend him. It all went away when the team got back on the winning track.

Football season, and here we are again. Fans are up in arms, demanding explanations. Never mind that seven starters, including three now in the NFL, are gone. Never mind that several players have been dismissed for disciplinary problems. They argue that U of L had a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback and deeper talent than any team in the school’s history.

I saw the Orange Bowl game in person. U of L did not trounce Wake Forest. In fact, the Wake Forest defense kept us bottled up most of the game. Without a trick play and a last minute interception, the outcome could have been far different. But U of L won. The struggle is a distant memory.

Would Petrino have done better this year? Maybe so, maybe not. I can guarantee, however, that the very same people would be outraged. With some fans the way they are, small wonder Petrino treated the fan base they way he did, and John L. Smith before him.

The important thing to keep in mind is that Tom Jurich is the same person who made all the Liberty Bowl, Gator Bowl and Orange Bowl appearances possible. He’s the guy who hired a baseball coach that took U of L to the College World Series in his first year. His foresight made entry into the Big East Conference possible. He has made great coaching hires and delivered an incredible number of first class athletic facilities to Belknap Campus. And don’t forget the new downtown basketball arena that will symbolize just how much this community treasures U of L athletics.

Tom is not going to come out and detail the problems in the football program, some of which may have been festering during the Petrino years. Just not going to happen. He endures these concerns day after day, dedicating his life to the athletic program. He feels it in his gut in disappointing times, even more so in football because that’s his first love.

Someone said we as a fan base will ultimately be judged by how we conduct ourselves during times of adversity. Lot of truth in that. Meanwhile, now is the best time for fans to appreciate Tom Jurich for everything he has done for the athletic program. He will do what is best for football. You can count on that.

What should Tranghese do?

What should happen as a result of a blown call by an official that resulted in a touchdown for UConn when a player made a fair catch signal but then ran for a touchdown?

The back judge Mark McAnaney said he had turned his head and didn’t see the player raise his arm. Standing within 15 feet of the player and didn’t see it? He couldn’t really expect us to believe that. The other officials were apparently looking away, too, because none of them had the courage to correct the error.

Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese admitted that the lack of a call was a mistake and has apologized to U of L. He said the “subject could be addressed after the season.”

U of L Athletic Director Tom Jurich was reserved in his comments, “If we say anything it’s just sour grapes,” he said. “I think UConn has got to address it. I think the league has to address it … I just don’t think we benefit by saying anything.”

Schools should not be penalized for bad officiating. Apologies and admissions of guilt are meaningless. What should happen is that a bad call that results in points for one team or the other should be correctable. The call was, in fact, correctable via review but the officials didn’t know that.

The first thing that should happen is that the official, who wasn’t even watching the punt return, should be fired. The player who committed the nefarious play should be disciplined. Moreover, the seven points should be deducted.

No way. That final score will stand. There’s an unwritten rule that scores don’t change after time has elapsed. Just because it’s always been done that way doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s reflects a major flaw in the system. Maybe it’s time to revisit the rulebook. Tranghese doesn’t have the power to do that but he certainly isn’t helping by waiting until after the season to address the matter.

Soggy Reminder

Monday after a loss. Raining again. Temperatures dropping. Game film reveals much upon which to improve. Back to the practice field. Got to get better.

What’s left to look forward to after a game the Cards should have won but lost? Not pretending to know the answers. We know how tough football can be. But there are four games remaining, opportunities to prove something.

As coaches like to remind us, the game of football is much like life in general: you get knocked down, you get back up, learn from mistakes, work on weaknesses, and set new goals.

If there’s anything the last loss and this crazy season has taught us it is that anyone can beat anyone. Teams with chips on their shoulders are surprising overconfident foes with some regularity this year. No one is even surprised when it happens.

We just want it to happen for us.

Fan of the Week

Connie Giacomini, the mother of 280-pound U of L offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, is this week’s Fan of the Week. She and a large and rowdy group of family members and friends made the short trip from Malden, Massachusetts to Hartford for the game. They created quite a bit of noise and the ESPN cameras revisited them numerous times. Breno appeared to have a couple of football playing brothers who are as big, if not bigger, than he is.