Cardinal Renaissance, rising from ashes at University of Louisville

 
 
by Steve Springer 
 
The year of our Lord, two thousand and thirteen, was christened “The Year of The Cardinal.”  All University of Louisville sports were flourishing.  Teddy Bridgewaters. Final Fours. Sugar Bowls. Russdiculous’s.   Terrell Floyd pick-sixes. Devante Parkers. Gorgui Diengs.  Peyton Sivas. Shoni Schimmel. Conference championships. ACC induction on the horizon. And yes, a National Championship.  Thank you Charlie Strong, Rick Pitino, Dan McDonnell, Jeff Walz.  Things could not have been better.  The architects of the aforementioned glorious age.  For over a thousand generations these coaches were the guardians of peace and justice. Before the Dark Times.  
 
Okay, sorry, Obiwan. So it wasn’t exactly over a thousand generations, but you get the analogy.  Everything was right a long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away. Although it has seemed like it for the last few years.
 
Vince Tyra has a chance to possibly usher in a renaissance, rebirth, reformation, realignment, rehabilitation, recovery, reawakening,  renewal, restoration, revival, all the other re’s that are out there that my online thesaurus forgot to include. 
 
Vince Tyra named Athletic Director to return University of Louisville to prominence (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Mr. Tyra has finally been anointed as Athletic Director at The University of Louisville.  A title that is sacred to the English version of knighthood basically in the kingdom of the city of Louisville. He has gargantuan armor boots to fill that were unceremoniously stripped from Sir Thomas Jurich.  The kingdom will be watching, some skeptically, some anxiously, some placated, as he takes the throne and his first decree is to anoint a new men’s basketball coach.

 
The bigger scuttlebutt making its way around the land is Tyra will hand the keys of the kingdom over to Minuteman Chris Mack on Tuesday.  If Mack was to continue his current trajectory, he could possible lead the men’s team back to glory.  He can build upon the castle that Crum, Jurich, Pitino have built and expand the realm and rehang the banner that was stolen by the malcontents, the dissidents, the scourge. 
 

How about a Cardinal that rises from the ashes with red fire instead of feathers? 

 
Puma Pass is inheriting the keys to the gridiron from Heisman hero Lamar Jackson.  As great as Jackson was, there seemed to be a ceiling to what the gridiron templars could accomplish under his reign, probably through no fault of his own.  Coach Petrino can now hopefully run his offense in the more traditional manner that we were accustomed to and maybe Puma can shatter that ceiling and lift the Cards into the next stratosphere, starting with a Davidesque slaying of Alabubba Goliath this fall.  Legend hints of this already happening before from days of old.
 

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How is Spida Mitchell so Cardinal Red?

 By Steve Springer
 
I grew up my entire minor life in Louisville.  My mother took me with her to a teachers’ in-service at Male one summer when I was a wee little Card. Probably early eighties. Alumnus Griff was shooting by himself in the gym. She took me in and Dr. Dunkenstein held me up to slam it through.  I don’t remember it but my parents are proud to remind me of it. 
 
Donovan Mitchell having some fun at John Gillian’s expense during game against Syracuse last season (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

In the following years I was blessed to have been provided the opportunity to go to game after game at Freedom Hall and see his mug here and there and always reminded of his place in Cardinal Lore, in record books, posters, memorabilia adorning my parents’ home.  He was a fixture of my childhood. 

 
We ran into him again on the Toonerville Trolley by the Galt House a few years later and I of course recognized him and got his autograph.  He seemed pleasantly humbled that a young kid would recognize him after being gone from UofL for so long, and so did my mother.
 
I’ve lived the UofL life. I’ve known him since I was able to have conscious memories. I went to all the home games as a kid. I skipped school when I was old enough to drive to sneak to the daytime C-USA tourney games. I went to UofL out of high school. I know the whole story. Griff is fully appreciated by me, as he is by you probably if you took the time to click on this article. 
 
This begs the question, how is Donovan Mitchell so Cardinal?  How is he so Louisville?  How is his blood so red that Don dons a #35 jersey in the process of becoming the first Cardinal to win a Slam Dunk contest?  We’ve had four Cards try to bring home the trophy, with Billy T, Greg Minor, and of course Griff, coming up short.
 
Spida exudes L1C4 as much as I could. If I was six inches taller I would be in the NBA doing what he does. At least in my imagination.  I would be ripping off my team jersey and dunking in my throwback Mike Abrams #44 Dunking Cardinal jersey.  But where does he get it?
 
He’s not from The Ville. He is from friggin’ New Hampshire, grew up in New York, and went to school in Connecticut.  Not a recipe that had him popping cups at Redbird games.  He didn’t count down the days until Derby Festival. He didn’t party at Kentucky Kingdom Friday Night Dance parties with N2Deep and cruise Preston Highway.
 
He spent two years as a Cardinal, yet he’s tweeting pictures of custom red Adidas kicks that he’ll wear in honor of a championship team he didn’t play a second for.  He’s being honored by Griff himself to receive his trophy in Salt Lake tonight.
 
As cliche as it is, Donovan embodies everything that is L1C4, us against the world right now.  His character, demeanor, and sentimentality for everything that is so sacred to Cardnation is so refreshing right now that it is such a breath of fresh air in all of the moral repugness that is the NCAA and its shenanigans against UofL the last couple of years. 
 
The shoes Donovan is wearing tonight have a “D” that looks like a wing. Some or most would say a that is a Cardinal wing. I think it just might be an angel wing…
 
 
 

“Biggest Fan of the Big East”

 

Schnellenberger sorry he left UofL, doubles down on prophesy

Howard Schnellenberger wants to see his prophesy fulbilled.
Howard Schnellenberger eager to see his prophesy fulfilled.

By Steve Springer

Every die-hard Card fan knows the infamous phrase that Coach Howard Schnellenberger termed during his introductory press conference when he was hired over 30 years ago. But in the event that this season’s unprecedented success and exposure has you donning the red tinted glasses, drinking the Kool-Aid and is consuming you and your bleeding Cardinal heart so much that you can’t think straight, here ya go:

“We’re on a collision course with the national championship. The only variable is time…”
              Howard Schnellenberger

A few months after this glorious prognostication, said coach made another impression on the writer of this article by trading hats with the then 10-year-old at his weekly radio show at W.W. Cousins on Breckenridge Lane. He left as much of a mark on that young fan as he did the University of Louisville’s football relevance and trajectory, so said fan grew up and felt that it was imperative to catch up with the legendary leader in south Florida and ask a few questions about this year’s magical ride.

The author, then 10 years old, gets an autograph from Schnellenberger in 1985.
The author, then 10 years old, gets an autograph from Schnellenberger in 1985.

When asked Monday about how he feels knowing that UofL is on the cusp of realizing the ultimate, Coach told me, “I’m delighted that they have exploded on the scene the way they have and to have the team prepared for the introduction of Action Jackson.” (Yes, Coach has jumped on the sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson hype train and is officially calling him Action Jackson). He even went as far as to call him the “Commander in Chief for the next two years” and a championship is “inevitable.”

After coining the infamous “collision course” comment, did he really feel like that was possible for a team that almost dropped football and was playing in a minor league baseball stadium in front of freebie-ticket fans? Or was he just appealing to the fan base to generate some excitement and interest in the program?

“I was appealing to my God Almighty, the students, the faculty, the staff, the basketball fans, and to the whole world that Louisville had the capability.

“I was appealing to my God Almighty, the students, the faculty, the staff, the basketball fans, and to the whole world that Louisville had the capability, and when we got the stadium it had the opportunity to become reality; it was the fulfillment of what the University of Louisville was destined to be.”

Why he came to the University of Louisville

When the USFL deal didn’t materialize, what peaked his interest or curiosity about the University of Louisville? Was it just wanting to come home, or was there more?

“It was a combination of a whole bunch of things. The fact that it was my hometown, I played and coached football in Kentucky, played football and basketball for Flaget High School, used to play St. X, Trinity, Manual” and went on to mention his “pipeline to the pro’s from south Florida and saw that that could be important to the scene.”

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