Steve Springer is a lifelong University of Louisville fan and is officially "The Biggest Fan of the Big East." He graduated from Eastern High School, attended the University of Louisville, and finished his BS at Murray State University. He earned the honor of the conference's biggest fan in a contest sponsored by Volvo during the 2010-11 basketball season.
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.
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…
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.
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.”
I would like to rescind my latest comments about conference expansion. I have been very stressed lately about this whole situation and I was running at the mouth when I should have been mum.
A couple of assistant coaches from the football program sauntered into my office the other day and were quite persuasive in enlightening me on a new approach. I now have the utmost faith in how Athletic Director Tom Jurich and President Ramsey are handling the situation. They will do what is best for the University of Louisville. I plan on retiring in a few years and will finish out my tenure as the Cardinals head basketball coach in whatever conference they deem is best for our school’s future.
I would like to thank the AD, President, and most of the fans for sticking with me during my recent philanderings and appreciate their support. I would like to rededicate my public soapbox towards this concept. I will keep my mouth and cybermouth shut about further developments until The University makes an official announcement. Please do not ask me anymore in regards to this sticky situation, or you will receive a “no comment”. I have at least one more championship to bring to The Ville before I retire because The University and its loyal fans have paid me enough money so that my great grandchildren can lay on a beach somewhere in the year 2035.
Be sure to check my next blog next Thursday on how I have been catching up on recruiting because of wasting time talking to my buddy Andy.