Cabooses more valuable to UofL than additional parking

UofLCardGame photo

By Ed Peak

Say it’s not so.

An alarming story in the local newspaper on Wednesday about the cabooses parked at the north end of Cardinal Stadium. They may be gone soon. All 14 of them, those romantic reminders of America’s past. 

It may not seem a big loss to some but in reality the cabooses are a huge deal, greatly enhancing the atmosphere surrounding University of Louisville football games. I absolutely love them.

These cabooses host hundreds of boosters and fans before and after games. A local radio station does a pregame show from one of the cabooses. There is always a buzz there on game days. People thoroughly enjoying themselves.

According to the Courier-Journal, Caboose Express pays about $19,000 a year to lease the cars, which are on state land, and in turn rents them out each for about $15,000 per year — or about $210,000 annually. It also provides one caboose to U of L for free, according to contracts attached to the suit.

The UofL Athletic Association has  notified the caboose owner that the lease will be terminated. The space is more valuable now than 20 years ago when the cabooses arrived. Apparently U of L wants the cabooses, or the space, for itself.

But Cardinal Stadium and the surrounding areas have many places to park. It is currently used as a party area as many cabooses having full kitchens. Some fans watch Cardinal baseball on top of the cabooses during the NCAA baseball tournament, especially when Jim Patterson Stadium is sold out.

The University of Louisville Athletics Department needs more revenue. Athletic Director Vince Tyra has been forced to squeeze every nickel, dime and penny out of every revenue source. Let the finger-pointing begin.

This goes back to former Athletic Director Tom Jurich and two coaches. Football coach Bobby Petrino who left he Cardinal football program in shambles when he was asked to leave in November and owed $16 million. Rick Pitino and his deny, deny, deny tactics. It wasn’t me. I don’t know anything. Costing Cardinals athletics lost lots of revenue.

That the ULAA would even consider doing away with cabooses may be an indication of deeply that athletic program has been affected by all of the damaging events over the past three years. It’s a mistake, however, to assume that more parking revenue would make up for the loss of the cabooses.

Time for the Athletic Association to go back to Caboose Express and renegotiate the terms of the lease. Those cabooses represent far more potential for profit than any new parking schemes. Their loss would be a major blow to the optics of University of Louisville football.

 

Former UofL football player Cameron in race for Attorney General

The odds of Louisville having a friendly face in Frankfort will be significantly enhanced if Daniel Cameron is successful. He’s running for the post of Kentucky Attorney General on the Republican ticket in May.

Cameron is a former University of Louisville football player, earning a Bachelor’s degree as a McConnell Scholar in political science  and a law degree from the UofL Brandeis School of Law. He was selected by the University to give one of the student commencement speeches at the 2011 graduation ceremony.

He  became a Cardinals’ fan after his parents moved to Elizabethtown from Alabama in his youth. “They were the team in our back yard and it was easy to root for them 30 minutes down the road,” said Cameron, who was born in Plano, Texas. 

One of his fondest UofL memories was the football team’s appearance in the 2007 Orange Bowl. Cameron was a freshman that season, playing at safety and on special teams under Coach Bobby Petrino. “At that time, he was seen as someone with a great offensive mind and a great X’s and O’s coach, somebody who paid a lot of attention to detail,” recalls Cameron. “Winning that game was one of the biggest milestones in UofL football history.”

Cameron would also play under Coach Steve Kragthorpe whom he said “seemed like a great guy but it just didn’t work out for him.”

Daniel Cameron gives on of the student commencement speeches at UofL’s 2011 graduation ceremonies.

He said he also benefited greatly from some challenging experiences at UofL’s McConnell Center. “I was able to do both because there were a lot of gracious folks in the football office and the McConnell Center,” he said. “I remember having to miss a football practice because of an academic event, and Coach Petrino told me to tell McConnell to keep the lid on gasoline prices or something to that effect.”

Later, as legal counsel to U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell in Washington, Cameron would accompany McConnell on some trips to Louisville for several football games. “He rarely misses a football game, he’s an avid follower and an avid attender,” he said. “The only reason he misses is if there’s something really important going on in Congress.”

Daniel Cameron tackles Pete Nochta during a 2007 practice session. Nochta is now a recruiting coordinator for the Louisville football team.

Before going to Washington for more than two years, Cameron was an attorney with the firm of Stites & Harbison. He’s now with Frost, Brown & Todd, one of the most prestigious law firms in the region.

Cameron says he is running for the office of Attorney General “because it is the best platform from which to confront the public safety challenge of our lifetime: the drug epidemic,” he said. “I’ve seen too many families torn apart by drug abuse. The Attorney General should be the leading voice in confronting this challenge.”

Cameron believes the office has been overly politicized by Andy Beshear, the current occupant who has often clashed with Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin, suing him multiple times for his use of executive authority.

One of the Beshear’s lawsuits led to a temporary reversal of Bevin’s appointments to the University of Louisville Board of Trustees. The turmoil that followed the Beshear’s challenge is credited by some as a major factor in UofL being placed on academic probation for a year.

Daniel Cameron, wearing No. 31, with position players at UofL in 2007.

“The last four years Andy has spent a lot of time sort of prioritizing being the opposition to the Governor,” he said. “Some of the things he has involved himself have been driven specific policy view. He has used his office in many ways to be the chief legislative officer and the chief policy officer as opposed to being the chief law enforcement officer.  

“I want to return the Attorney General’s Office to being the chief law enforcement office,” he continued. “The No. 1 issue in terms of public safety  challenge is the drug epidemic. The Attorney General needs to be the driving force on that issue. The number of drug overdoses in Kentucky has been devastating. The AG needs to use the bully pulpit to getting all of the law enforcement agencies working on the same page .”

Cameron believes resolving the drug crisis in Kentucky will have to include contributions from all segments of society, including the universities and other agencies. He is pleased with with the new leadership under Neeli Bendapudi at the University of Louisville, and said he looks forward to working with education leaders as well on drug issues.

“We’re in it to win, and we’re prepared to tackle the immense challenges that come with the plague that is disrupting so many lives,” he said.

Satterfield eager to begin Louisville spring football

Scott Satterfield eager to get his player on the football field as spring practice begins Monday.

Two months after he was hired at the University of Louisville, Coach Scott Satterfield was introducing the newest members of his first recruiting class on Wednesday at the Howard Schnellenberger football complex. Now he can finally focus on cleaning up the mess left by his predecessor.

The coach he replaced having lost the confidence and respect of his assistant coaches, the players, the administration and the fans, finishing the 2018 season with a humiliating 2-10 record. Still another unhappy ending from Bobby Petrino. Par for the course for him, but a double whammy for UofL following two tenures.

Satterfield hasn’t had much time to work with the players he inherited from Petrino. When he was hired on December 4th, he was faced with the challenges of hiring an entirely new staff,  evaluating the existing commitments before the early signing date of December 19th, and then hitting the recruiting trail in earnest. 

The UofL coach acknowledged that getting his staff and first recruiting class together was a time-consuming process. He was, however, pleased with reports from the strength coaches that players were making significant progress in the weight room. 

Satterfield will have plenty of time to know his players starting on Monday with the beginning of the spring training camp. He’s not making any assumptions about what went wrong under Petrino, saying everyone is starting off with a clean slate.

He will have 15 days to begin to reverse some of the failures of the second Petrino era, to instill a new culture with a winning attitude, and new offensive and defensive schemes at Louisville. Major challenges for any coach but Satterfield can’t wait to get started.

“The Louisville brand is a good one, the program has had a lot of success, with some major accomplishments,” he said. “The response from high school coaches has been awesome. They know what went on here before and what we want to do. What Louisville has been able to do in the past has been awesome.”

“Our staff did an outstanding job of going out, working their tails off to get the kind of players we need at Louisville,” he said. “We’re glad to get much of the administrative stuff behind us. We’re eager to get out on the field and begin the process of getting better as a football team.

40,457 packed Fairgrounds Stadium for fight night against Tennessee

One of the most anticipated games in the history of Fairgrounds Stadium had to be the University of Louisville football showdown against the University of Tennessee on Sept. 5, 1991.  Big time football had arrived.

Every square inch of the old baseball stadium was packed for UofL’s game against Tennessee that night.

Coach Howard Schnellenberger had convinced the Volunteers, a national power at the time, to play in a revamped baseball stadium. The community was hyped, with such Louisville legends as Johnny Unitas, Pee Wee Reece, Lenny Lyles, Darrell Griffith and Paul Hornung being introduced before the game.

The next guest was none other than Muhammed Ali, the former heavyweight champion of the world. Ali would arrive in a limousine and shadowbox with the chubby Cardinal Bird at the 50-yard line. To the chants of “Ali, Ali, Ali” in the jam-packed stadium. Over and over again for several minutes.

According to UofL stats guru Kelly Dickey, the official attendance for the game was 40,457 — the largest crowd in the history of the old Cardinal Stadium.

Big time football, indeed. Just a few months earlier, on Jan. 1, 1991, the Cardinals had scored a milestone win over Alabama — a 34-7 thrashing in the Fiesta Bowl. The week following the Tennessee game, Louisville was scheduled to play Ohio State in Columbus.

The outpouring of UofL support provided Schnellenberger with ammunition to push for Louisville to start fundraising for construction of its own football stadium. Which would come to fruition in 1998 with Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Nobody was keeping count but there had to be a record number of fights between opposing fans. “It was unlike anything we had ever seen,” recalled Bill Olsen, former athletic director. “Fights were breaking out everywhere. I was called before the athletic board the next week for an explanation.”

One of the major reasons was that Tennessee required 15,000 seats for its traveling fans. “It wasn’t feasible to contain the visiting fans in one section. We had only about 2,000 seats in the visitors section so all the Tennessee fans had to be interspersed with U of L fans throughout the stadium.

“It was not a good situation to begin with,” he says. “The place was packed with people in every available space, and Tennessee fans are pretty serious about their football. We also had a lot of fans not used to having access to beer.”

Tensions were high at the half because Tennessee only led by a touchdown.  UT fans feared Howard Schnellenberger and remembered that U of L thumping of Alabama a few months earlier. Jeff Brohm was quarterbacking in only the second game of his UofL career. The future looked bright for Louisville football.

Tennessee broke it open in the third quarter, however, winning the game 28-11. It was a skirmish many fans would not soon forget. UofL fans loved their football, and Fairgrounds Stadium was home sweet home for now.

Satterfield: Louisville football’s final practice will be a big deal

Scott Satterfield wants every practice to count as he restores the University of Louisville football program.

Good news for University of Louisville football fans.

There will be a spring scrimmage for UofL football after all. Having attended every spring game over the last 50 years, the prospect of a spring without once again enjoying this fun tradition was not encouraging.

Louisville football coach Scott Satterfield has clarified a confusing report in the local newspaper about what would be occurring on March 7, the last day of spring practice. The surprising thing in the report was there would not be a spring game, provoking somewhat of a mini-crisis among UofL football fans. 

Satterfield told ESPN 680 on Wednesday that UofL football fans will be invited to the final practice, which will include a scrimmage (and not a game). The difference is that the Louisville coaches and football players will get one more actual practice session. 

The distinction is important because spring games tend to be one-sided affairs, with first teams competing against second teams, purely for the entertainment purposes. Nobody really learns anything and the players don’t get any better. 

Teams are limited to 15 practices during spring camp, and each practice is important, especially so for UofL, a team that finished 2-10 last season. The only loss to the community is that the spring game won’t be on the Kentucky Derby Festival calendar, as in the past.

Don’t be surprised, however, if that final practice session also includes the familiar carnival atmosphere outside Cardinal Stadium, complete with all the tailgating and socializing that accompanied the old spring games.

The only thing missing may be the warmer weather, because spring begins this year on March 21.