Say Goodbye To Matt Simms

Back when Steve Kragthorpe suspended quarterback Matt Simms for the first four games of the 2008 football season, one wondered whether he would be around much longer.

Simms may have been seen the writing on the wall, probably sealed by Louisville’s successful recruitment of quarterback Adam Froman from Santa Rosa Junior College. Kragthorpe never seemed eager to play Simms, using him briefly in the Pittsburgh loss.

The word comes from Rick Bozich’s blog:

No official word on where Simms is headed, although it will probably be a junior college, where he would play for one season before returning to a Division I-A school without a year of inactivity.

His mother arrived from New Jersey to help him pack his belongings and head home today. Simms had returned to Louisville after the holidays for nearly a week. He worked out with teammates at the Trager Center for several days before making his decision to leave.

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We thought dad Phil Simms’ reaction was strangely guarded Sunday during a CBS broadcast of an NFL wildcard game when he was asked about the UofL-UK rivalry. “I grew up in Louisville,” he said. End of conversation.

Assist To Kragthorpe

By Charlie Springer

Football coaches lead a rough life, especially when the won-lost record doesn’t meet expectations. The three new assistants being added to Steve Kragthorpe’s University of Louisville staff are fully aware of the challenges facing the program. They’ve been around football and fans their entire lives.

The new coaches are Larry Slade, former defensive assistant at Tennessee, Brent Guy, former head coach at Utah State, and Jay Johnson, a former offensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi. larry_slade

Slade, an assistant to Phil Fulmer for 10 years, was in charge of the defensive  backs. This past season the Tennessee defense ranked fourth in the country in pass defense and tied for third nationally in total defense, allowing an average of 18 points per game. Before Tennessee, Slade spent five seasons at Texas A&M from 1994-98. His 1997 unit allowed a nation’s best three passing touchdowns.

“Larry is one of the most-respected defensive back coaches in the nation,” said Kragthorpe. “I worked with Larry at Texas A&M and he is one of the best I’ve ever been around.”

GBrent_Guyuy joins the Cardinals after spending four seasons as head coach at Utah State.  Guy went to Utah State from Arizona State where he was the defensive coordinator for four years. “Brent has a proven track record playing great defense wherever he has coached,” said Kragthorpe. “He had great success at Arizona State as a defensive coordinator and can add a lot of expertise to that side of the football.”

Johnson spent last season as an administrative assistant with UofL after spending five years at Southern Mississippi where, under his guidance, the Jay_Johnson Golden Eagles established a school record for total offense in 2007 with 5,066. “I’ve known Jay for a long time and he has an excellent offensive mind,” said Kragthorpe. “His teams at Southern Miss where very successful and explosive.”

Joining a program coming off two consecutive disappointing seasons requires confidence in the head coach and in your own abilities

Welcome to the University of Louisville, guys. We’re all in this together.

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.