Not Closure, But Open Season

Tom Jurich seems to be going out of his way to make sure the world knows that he stands behind football coach Steve Kragthorpe. The decisionmaker for University of Louisville athletics reinforced his support today for the third time in a week.

Funny, he needed a news conference to repeat what every UofL football fan already knew.

Tom Jurich
Tom Jurich

Makes you wonder what else is going on. It wouldn’t be the first time an athletic director has given a coach a vote of confidence and then axed him a few weeks later. But Jurich is not going fire a football coach after only two seasons for any reason other than unethical conduct. Doing so would make finding a successor much more difficult now than later.

While Jurich’s assumed purpose was to quell talk of a coaching change, he inadvertently or purposefully — only he knows for sure — may have reignited the speculation all over again. When asked if Kragthorpe would be returning, he replied: “Yes, Steve will be back next year … if he wants to be.”

That may be all the encouragement the Kragthorpe haters need to turn up the heat. My guess is that Kragthorpe has already decided, one way or the other.

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Construction on stadium expansion could conceivably begin as early as Monday. Jurich said only that construction would begin after the football season. This month? Next month? The guess here is the answer will come about the same time as the answer to the coaching question.

A Black Saturday Lift For Local Retailers?

Not sure how the decision was arrived at but the University of Louisville’s last home football game against West Virginia has been declared a “Black Out” game. Couldn’t have been a whole lot of thought put into the planning process. No way this works out, even among hard core fans who will show up for what many consider inevitable.

Asking them to wear black is not quite the ultimate test for fans already in a dark mood. But it does pose a dilemma for many. Temperatures are expected to range between 29 and 41 degrees Saturday, and warm clothing will be a necessity. This observer has a black baseball cap but there’s not a single black coat in sight.

Maybe someone thought it would be a good way to stimulate the economy, envisioning fans rushing out to buy black outerwear. Our friends at J.D. Becker are apparently in the spirit, e-mailing an offer of long sleeve T-shirts for $16.98, and they’re probably available at the Neutral Zone as well. The prices for black jackets with logos start at $49. But they are the lightweight variety and won’t begin to do the job Saturday.

Sorry, guys, can’t see buying a black jacket for one game, not this season anyway.

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UofL fan favorite Francisco Garcia has missed the last three weeks of National Basketball Association action with the Sacramento Kings with a leg injury (right calf strain). He has been recuperating, and will attempt to resume practice later this week. Last season, his third in Sacramento, Garcia averaged 12.3 points and 3.3 rebounds.

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The Louisville vs. Xavier women’s basketball game at Noon this Saturday will be part a special online pay-per-view event. The game will be available live and on-demand via Internet video streaming for one-time payment of $9.95. The game will also be broadcast nationally on CBS College Sports, available via satellite on DirecTV channel 610 and Dish Network channel 152.

Current subscribers to Cards All-Access TV will receive the broadcast free inside of Cards TV All-Access as part of their Annual package. Monthly subscribers will have to purchase the pay-per-view. You can subscribe by clicking here. Sonja?

Getting It Off The Chest

Things the observer abhors about the atmosphere surrounding University of Louisville football right now, not in any particular order:

— How losing affects devoted followers.

— Fans turning on other fans.

— Fans turning on the athletic administration.

— People threatening not to renew season tickets.

— People claiming to have all the answers.

— Message boards overflowing with redundant hate-filled posts.

— Posters who don’t recognize that hate-filled postings negatively affect recruiting.

— Section 208, a corporate seating section, with more people in it than in the Crunch Zone during the Cincinnati game.

— Denial of personnel losses that occurred during both the Petrino and Kragthorpe years.

— Lack of recognition that there has been a threefold improvement on defense this season.

— Play calling is criticized rather than whether players are capable of making plays.

— Firing the coach is viewed as the only sure fix by so many people.

— Individuals who think they know how to manage the coaching situation better than Tom Jurich.

— Fans being blamed for the situation.

— The possibility that Tom Jurich could be tempted to look elsewhere to manage an athletic program.

— The perception of Louisville football whether Steve Kragthorpe is fired or allowed to resign.

— Louisville football will still be hurting even if there’s a new coach on the sideline next season.

To Be Or Not To Be

The observer’s 11-year-old grandson, already a confirmed Card fan, asked to weigh in on the coaching controversy after thinking about it for a couple of days. Edited only for spelling, his comments are pretty insightful. Here they are:

By Koby Springer
Guest Poster

“To be or not to be.” In the words of William Shakespeare. Many people are saying the same thing about Coach Steve Kragthorpe. I am saying the same thing. Kragthorpe could not have let the fans down any more than they already are. Well, yes he could. Friday’s loss to the Bearcats has added his 11th loss to his career as a Louisville Cardinal. The way I see it he could win the next two games and be better than last year or win one, lose one and be the same as last year and the other possibility is well, just plain ridiculous. He has been given too many chances and I say get him outta there. We were once feared by every team in the country, and now we’re not on the map.

Koby Springer
Koby Springer

I believe that the only reason to our success is because of Jeff Brohm’s play calling. And of course Hunter Cantwell. The game on Friday looked like we were going to win but as the game progressed the players and the ball got wetter. I saw a play were Cantwell threw the ball right at Doug Beaumont and he let it slip right out of his hands. The stadium was supposed to have an expansion, and now I don’t think that they will have enough attendance to pay for it. So I end on this note: Steve Kragthorpe, to be or not to be?

When Close Becomes A Chasm

Playing Cincinnati close wasn’t good enough, even for fans who ordinarily would have been surprised and encouraged that the University of Louisville football team hung with Cincinnati for almost four quarters. One can only conclude that nothing short of winning will satiate a growing segment of the UofL fan base. Here’s Sonja’s take:

By Sonja Sykes

Kragthorpe apologist aside, let’s call it the way it really is: This is not very good football right now, and how much of it is traceable to the play calling in the last several games? This year could end very badly for this version of the football Cards.

Next up is West Virginia, which is in a dogfight for the Big East Championship, and Pat White, although probably not NFL material at QB, is a shifty, elusive game changer who may have lost two good running backs from previous years, but still has some talent that to which he can turn. Rutgers has been thumping opponents the last three weeks, and the Cards have to go there.

Folks, let’s face it. This season looks like a 5-7 finish, and will get the Kragthorpe haters more ammunition. Even Krags takes it upon himself for his 11-11 record and the meltdowns the Cards have has this year. Although it’s a nice gesture designed to protect his staff and players…it has a certain amount of accuracy to it as well.

The fan base I know, and talk to regularly, grudingly agree that he’ll get that third year to “build” this program “his” way. But at what cost? A deteriorating fan base, a lack of interest and loss of popularity in those areas outside Jefferson County? It’s not Cooper, yet…but remember that Louisville football was 12-10 under Coop after two years. Then the meltdown came. I hope we win the last two. I hope we become bowl eligible and we see a resurgence of offense and a continued strong defense. But like many fans, I have my doubts.

Despite the rosy picture painted about player unity and belief in the Kragthorpe system, all is not Disneyland at the Schnellenberger Complex. In Tom Jurich we trust. But trust only takes you so far.