Louisville Gear Attracts Friends, Foes

By Paul Sykes

Wear the gear and people will comment. We recently went on a “mini-vacation” to Nashville and Gatlinburg…a chance to relax, get away from it all and enjoy the splendor of the Great Smokies. I packed several Cardinal hats and shirts and proudly wore the colors as we toured.

One young man, wearing a questionable pink University of Kentucky baseball cap, assured me that UK would sweep football and basketball this year. I laughed good-naturedly and commented that he looked good in pink ...

More than ever, total strangers were coming up to me out of the blue to discuss University of Louisville sports. I heard several positive comments about Lady Cards hoops, the baseball team and the prospects of Earl Clark and T-Will in the NBA draft. An Atlanta resident informed me she was so happy that Angel McCoughtry was playing for the Atlanta Dream.

One young man, wearing a questionable pink University of Kentucky baseball cap, assured me that UK would sweep football and basketball this year. I laughed good-naturedly and commented that he looked good in pink, which drew the laughter of his sidekicks and produced a scowl and verbal obscenity from him as he slinked off.

A young lady later that evening, sporting a John Calipari T-shirt, smugly informed me “those Cardinals weren’t no damn good.” I chuckled and offered her a couple of dollars to take off the Calipari shirt and let me use it to clean off the table where we were sitting.

Rejected.

We were in an English pub on the outskirts of Gatlinburg, sampling some very tasty porters and stouts, when the proprietor of the pub walked over to our table, grinning broadly and informed me he was a transplanted Cardinal and bought our next round. Discussion turned eventually to the prospects of the football team. “Joe” isn’t a candidate to start the Gatlinburg Steve Kragthorpe fan club, believe me. If you read this, Joe, remember Sonja’s motto: Love the players, love the game.

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Minutes later, the news flashed about Michael Jackson. For the rest of the night, the sudden death of the “King of Pop” was the buzz of the city.  The band playing in the bar even played a nicely done four or five-song tribute to the icon. Say what you will about the headline grabbing Mr. Jackson, “Rock With You” and “She’s Out of My Life” are two songs that will always bring back the memories of the beginnings of my life long love affair with the cagey lady who shyly agreed to go out on a date with me over 3o years ago.

The album “Off The Wall” was released in 1979 and several months later,  UofL won its first National Championship in basketball. It’s the only Jackson recording I’ve ever bought. I’ve even owned it in eight-track, cassette and CD.  Good times.

Kragthorpe Sorry For Missing Football Camp

The apology tour has begun for Coach Steve Kragthorpe after inexcusably missing an opportunity to represent the University of Louisville program at the Kentucky Football Coaches Clinic on Thursday. About 120 high school football coaches were stood up when Kragthorpe failed to make an appearance.

The observer was reminded of his first impression of Coach K about two weeks after he took the U of L post, the coach showing up more than an hour late for his first meeting with fans at the Neutral Zone in Middletown. Said he couldn’t find the place. Bad omen, the observer was thinking at the time. New guy, new town, let this one pass.

But this latest faux pas is flat out embarrassing. Take it, Coach K:

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Getting Corporate Fannies In The Seats

Never too early. In fact, now may be the ideal time to bring it up since the football season is just two months away.

There could well be more empty seats than normal this fall, or until University of Louisville football returns to its winning ways. But that doesn’t excuse the basis for frequent complaints from University of Louisville fans about great corporate seats sitting empty at football games.

Companies make big donations, then pay thousands more dollars for their prime season tickets. But too many tickets never get punched at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Why not put the names of companies, their logos or brand names on the seats?

When they shell out the money, the companies say they are buying them for employees. So why do they go to waste? The reasons are as varied as the companies. The observer suspects, however, the real problem is that nobody bothers to distribute them. Either that or the tickets are entrusted to a University of Kentucky fan who can’t be bothered to pass on University of Louisville tickets.

The observer has a suggestion for Tom Jurich. Why not put the names of companies, their logos or brand names on their seats? That way the companies would get more of the public recognition they all want so much.

Even more importantly, fans would finally see which companies are following through on their commitments as “good corporate citizens involved in the community” –  or those that are merely paying lip service. Fans would recognize the companies for their support, or, in the case of the empty seats, ask them why the tickets aren’t used.

Companies pay big money for the tickets, and most don’t tolerate waste. A little exposure might motivate the people responsible for distributing the tickets, getting them off their butts, putting the tickets where they belong, in the hands of employees.

Kragthorpe Sets Sights For Louisville Football

University of Louisville fans want coach Steve Kragthorpe to be confident about the upcoming football season, want him to turn things around, get on the winning track. Right?Brochure

That’s debatable, especially among those who threw in the towel halfway through the 2008 season. Those fans still hanging in,  hoping for the best, might be a little encouraged by the Kragthorpe’s optimistic tone in a solicitation for the 2009 Kickoff Luncheon, August 13th:

“We are ready to set our sights on a Big East title and a trip to postseason play. We have a solid crew of veterans and a good nucleus that is poised to put the Cardinals in the thick of the Big East race. Led by senior wide receiver Scott Long and locals Doug Beaumont and Victor Anderson, the offense promises to be one to watch in 2009. Second team All Big East linebacker Jon Dempsey, defensive tackle L. T. Walker and safety Richard Raglin lead a hard-hitting and attacking-style defense that is primed to get after the opposition … Everyone associated with the football program looks forward to a promising 2009 campaign … “

One might expect the coach to be little more reserved, even if it is a brief paragraph in  a brochure. But, hey, it’s Kragthorpe’s team, and he apparently wants to build expectations for the faithful, as opposed to none for those lacking patience.