The Play That Will Be Remembered

While Trying To Drown The Sorrows

Courtesy of University of Louisville senior cornerback Travis Norton: His dreadlock tackle of Rutgers running back Jourdan Brooks will go down as one of the highlights of the 2008  football season. There were a few other highlights and low lights, of course, but this is the play that will be remembered:

Scott Long’s Recovery Will Take A While

The effects of Scott Long’s injury-related problems were much more serious than first reported, according to a story in the Wilmington (N.C.) Star News. The University of Louisville wide receiver suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in a practice session the week after the South Florida win.

During surgery a week later, complications arose when a blood clot in his calf traveled to a lung. It forced him to remain in the hospital for another week. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound Long has started seven months of rehabilitation.

That means Long will probably miss spring practice and will rejoin the team in August, hoping to be ready for the beginning of the 2009 football season.

Long has had his ups and downs at UofL. He injured his foot before this past season and missed the first four games. He was suspended for several games by Coach Bobby Petrino during his freshman season for hitting a female with a paint gun.

Long says he hung around with the wrong crowd and regrets the paintball incident, which he also says gave him a different perspective. “It was actually a blessing I didn’t get more punishment than I did,’’ he said. “It is something I am very remorseful for, and I definitely learned my lesson. It gave me a better appreciation for the things I am blessed with, especially this opportunity to play college football and get my education paid for.’’

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Victor Anderson has been named Big East Conference Rookie of the Year for his prowess during the past season, which included 1,047 yards rushing and eight touchdowns

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The University of Louisville women’s basketball team (7-1) takes on a dangerous Hartford University team at 7 o’clock tonight at Freedom Hall. The visiting team has a 5-4 won-lost record but owns impressive wins over fifth-rated Duke and Providence this season. Sonja has a more in-depth preview here.

Tangible Evidence Of Stadium Expansion

The National Rent-A-Fence Company has erected a fence around the parking area east of the stadium and construction crews are putting the finishing touches on two large double-wide trailers that will serve as construction headquarters for Abel Construction Company.

Abel Construction is the general contractor for the project. So the first steps in the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium are taking place. As one of the men working on setting up the trailers told this observer, “This thing is gonna happen, and it’s going to be great. They will be moving construction equipment in next.”

Tom Jurich
Tom Jurich

Exciting news, especially for Card fans who occupied the old baseball stadium over at the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center. The stadium expansion is moving forward, come hell or high water.

The setting up of the construction management offices is tangible evidence that Tom Jurich, Vice President of Athletics, remains firmly committed to the future of University of Louisville football. There are issues, yes, but Jurich recognizes that you have to build now for the future.

“One of the things that Tom has been able to do has been to upgrade all of the athletic facilities to another level,” said Bob Benson, a member of the U of L Athletic Association’s board of directors. “There is visible evidence throughout the campus, the natatorium swimming facility, the baseball stadium, the field hockey complex, the lacrosse stadium. We’ve also got a great new facility (the new downtown basketball arena) going up at Third and Main streets downtown.

“We’re very fortunate to be able to tackle these major projects in a very tough economy. Tom Jurich, with the help of people like Jim Host and others, has provided the leadership and deserves credit for the work he has done and continues to do.”

Some would question whether that long-term future will include Steve Kragthorpe, who will be the head football coach for at least another year. Next season will have its trials and disappointments for sure. In either case, stadium expansion is moving forward.

Seating capacity after completion of the first phase of the expansion will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 55,000 to 57,000.

Krags Has Spoken, My Turn Now

By Sonja Sykes

The Krags has spoken. Let’s review the key statements and discuss them, shall we?

“No one is more disapointed that I am”

OK, let’s toss the 30,000+ season ticket holders, scholarship players, and Cardinal football fans into a tie for 2nd place. Remember Steve, you’re getting paid for this gig, we’re shelling out the $$$. I think we may have equal or a bit more disapointment than you, in some cases.

“I am going to be here to fix it”

Let’s review the repair job so far. You’ve taken a Orange Bowl team, turned it into a 11-13, non-bowl competing cellar dweller in the Big East and driven the fans into a roaring frenzy. Yep. Looks like repairs are right on schedule. How do you propose completing the repairs? Crafting a 0-12 season next year. Letting the Cats roll up 60 against us? I’ve seen the Three Stooges do better repair work. Good luck, and pass me the left-handed wrench, I’ll help out.

“I came here to do a job and the job is not finished. Until someone tells me not to come to work, I’ll be here every day”

That someone…is that Jurich, or can a season ticket holder call in with the termination notice? Maybe you could use a vacation, and Tuberville, Bowden or Fulmer could cover your shift?

“If I were a fan of Louisville football, I’d understand the frustration and I would probably be frustrated myself.”

Great, a head coach who isn’t a fan of the team he coaches. Maybe he likes the field hockey or women’s basketball team? LEt us know who you do cheer for, Steve…we’ll get you one of their sweatshirts, a coffee mug and maybe one way plane ticket for a visit.

It boggles the mind, and this cloudly thinking, which was crystalline clear a couple of years ago sees thru the fog a coach that is adept at coach speak, glittering generalities and non-sequiters. Personally, I’d rather he be adept at first downs, defensive stops and recruiting. I guess the Rolling Stones said it best…”You can’t alway get what you want.”

I remain a Cardinal football fan. Thankfully, this particular chapter has ended. The next chapter is up in the air, and I’m hesitant about re-opening the book.

Kragthorpe Commitment Is Firm,

And Expansion Is Moving Ahead

This observer just completed a telephone discussion about the football coaching situation with a businessman who has been deeply involved with the University of Louisville for decades. In a position close to the university leadership, he understandably had to be careful about discussing personnel issues.

He did state, however, that Tom Jurich means exactly what he says about wanting to retain Steve Kragthorpe for the long term at U of L. Based on what he told me, there is no scenario in place under which Kragthorpe will gracefully resign or leave under any other circumstance. Jurich supports Kragthorpe and wants him to stay at Louisville.

This individual also reemphasized his support of Tom Jurich and his judgment on the issue, despite the growing criticism within the fan base. “Tom sees something in Steve Kragthorpe, just as he saw something in Bobby Petrino,” he said. “He believes in him, and it’s not a friendship issue.”

About the fan base criticism, he said: “I’m glad people care enough to complain. I would be concerned if they did not complain. Their criticism means they care deeply about the program.”

He also confirmed that the planned expansion of the football stadium will proceed on schedule. “We built Papa John’s stadium while during one of the worst periods (the Ron Cooper years) in UofL football history,” he said. “We have to expand and build for the future.”

The observer’s conclusion from the conversation is that U of L fans are going have to be patient, possibly for quite a while to see if Tom Jurich’s faith in Steve Kragthorpe is justified. Jurich obviously believes that he is a person who can work through the temporary disappointments and barriers while building a football program that commands national respect.

Just keep reminding yourself it may take a while.