Game Watching For Shawn Bowen

Come on down to the BBC in St. Matthews to watch the University of Louisville square off against Pittsburgh in football from Noon till 3:30 today and help raise funds to help defray Shawn Bowen’s medical expenses. Shawn is the 5-year-old son of Justin “Jerb” Bowen, the video wizard who provides so many highlights of U of L sports.

The event will go all day, with the BBC donating part of the proceeds to the cause. All day also includes a game watching event for the Basketball Cards in their exhibition against Northern Kentucky University tonight, starting at 8 p.m.

More details at Hell In The Hall, and you can bid online for silent auction items at Inside The Ville.

Hostile Fans, Angry Coach and a Wannstedt

Rarely in its history has the University of Louisville football team dominated another team like its has Pittsburgh. The Cards have won seven straight games over the Panthers since 1983, owning a 7-4 advantage in the series, including three Big East Conference wins.

Card fans can take little comfort, however. Pittsburgh was impressive in a four overtime 36-33 win over Notre Dame last week. The Panthers are well aware of recent history between the schools, eager to take advantage of a team unable to handle lowly Syracuse.

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— A young U of L team may have been riding too high after a surprising win over South Florida, thinking they had arrived and could just show up and win. It happens to teams all the time. But for hostile fans trying to find a reason to excuse the coaching staff for previous disappointments, it was the equivalent of a backstabbing.

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— Coach Steve Kragthorpe hardly ever ventures off the optimistic path, but he has been seething this week:

“Nobody’s happy around here. I’m not happy. I’m as upset as I’ve ever been. I’m sick to my stomach that we lost that football game.”

“In terms of where we’re at as a program, I’m disappointed, I’m upset, I’m pissed off that we lost. But I’m not going to let it affect my preparation for Pittsburgh.”

One angry football coach. That makes it unanimous. Now everybody is mad.

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— Tom Heiser, who does the Courier-Journal blog, is not that optimistic but somehow manages to anticipate a Louisville win:

The prospects for the final four games are about as muddy as the Heinz Field turf. Let’s be honest: if the program has now become Syracuse’s silver lining, no game (home or away) can be considered favorable for victory. The momentum of a three-game winning streak, a 5-2 record and the upset of South Florida have vanished … I think U of L has a good chance to rebound and pull out a win — in essence, pretend last week never happened.”

It takes a dedicated fan to feel that way. Nice to know there is at least one with CJ connections.

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— Mike Rutherford at Card Chronicle points out “Looking for a reason to believe that has nothing to do with your team? Pitt, now ranked 25th, is 0-3 in home games when nationally ranked under Dave Wannstedt.”

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— By the way, the Fire Dave Wannstedt domain is for sale after his team managed to defeat Notre Dame 36-33 in four overtimes last week. Could a Panther fan be having second thoughts? Don’t count on it if the Panthers lose another game to U of L.

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— Roll Tide Bama apparently believes Wannstedt is the key to the game:

As bad as Louisville has been, you have to think that anytime something good happens for Dave Wannstedt, something bad can’t be far behind. Something like an upset loss to Louisville, perhaps? Louisville 21 Pittsburgh 14.

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— Win or lose, you’ll be surrounded by a lot of U of L fans Saturday at a fund raising event for Shawn Bowen at the BBC in St. Matthews. Shawn is the five-year-old son of Justin Bowen, better known as “Jerb” for his video capabilities.

All proceeds from this event, as well as a golf scramble tomorrow, will go help offset the family’s medical expenses. There will be numerous items availble in a silent auction and probably a few surprises. Hats off to Frankpos for organizing the event, which starts at 11:30 a.m. See you there.

Bob Weber Had Some Good Moments As U of L Football Coach

While eating breakfast at a remote hotel in New Mexico about 10 years ago, I did a double take at the man who had just walked into the restaurant. My eyes weren’t deceiving me: it was indeed Bob Weber, the former University of Louisville football coach. He and his dad were also vacationing.

Weber was happy to hook up again with people from Louisville, wanting to catch up on how things were going at UofL. Still able to turn the head of every woman in the room, he was the same laid back guy we remembered from 1980 to 1984. While there weren’t many highlights during those years, there were some significant victories and he was pleased to be reminded.

There was, for example, the surprising 17-9 win at Kansas in his first season, a huge win at the time. While not a major football power, Kansas was a big name school, which rarely found its way to the UofL schedule. One of my favorites was an unbelievable 13-10 win over ninth-ranked and undefeated Southern Mississippi the day after Thanksgiving in 1981. There was also a come-from-behind 30-28 win over a good Oklahoma State team at Fairgrounds Stadium in 1982. His teams were 3-1 against Memphis State, which, at the time, was a few light years ahead of U of L in football.

Weber showed no hint of bitterness about being fired by the school after five years with a 20-35 won-lost record. He had minimum support and resources from James Grier Miller’s administration and the program was on the edge of extinction in the pre-Schnellenberger era. He remembered only the good times at Louisville.

The son of a Russian immigrant and raised on a small farm in Colorado,  Bob Weber died of pancreatic cancer at 75 last weekend at his home in Tucson, Arizona. A memorial service will be held Wednesday, Nov. 15 at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, 1200 N. Campbell Avenue, in Tucson.

Jurich’s Warning Wasted On The Rabid

Tom Jurich warned University of Louisville football fans three weeks before the season began that the next two seasons would be rebuilding years. Fans heard him, grumbled and complained while indicating they had actually listened and understood what he said.

The season began with the Cards having only nine players with starting experience in the opening lineup against Kentucky.  A youthful inexperienced group on players on both sides of the line. A green quarterback was calling signals, one who had started a few games a couple of years ago but played less than five minutes last season.

Through their first seven games, they showed signs of improvement, fans taking note of what appeared to be significant improvement in defense, the quarterback slowly growing into his starting position despite all his fumbles and interceptions. Then, amazingly, their team defeated the 14th ranked team in the country.

The fans figured that Jurich had simply been trying to lower expectations, that the Cards were already back on the fast track again, picking up a few votes in the national polls. Conference title expectations, visions of a bowl game, happy days were here again.

The Lady  Cards opened their
season with a 94-69 win in an
exhibition game. See Sonja’s report.

Wrong. The Syracuse debacle  left no doubt that much work remains to be done. Maybe Jurich knew what he was talking about when he said he just wanted to get through the rebuilding period.

Hello. Was anybody listening? The reaction of many fans to the unexpected loss had reached a crescendo on the message boards before the game was over and hasn’t let up since. They were among the many folks who traveled to Miami for an Orange Bowl less than two years ago. They had arrived only to be deserted by a vagabond coach whom this observer firmly believes hunted new jobs more vigorously than he recruited new players.

This particular group of fans refuse to believe another coach would have had a similar experience with Bobby Petrino’s leftovers. Any fan brave enough to admit he or she wants to see beyond the current frustration to better days down the road is instantly labeled a Kragthorpe apologist.

Can you imagine the reaction of potential recruits? They visit the school, like the coach, get to know the players, like the dormitory and campus. Out  of curiosity, they check the message boards. What they find are people calling for firings, some actually hoping the team loses more games to expedite terminations while urging other fans to stay away from games.

These same fans wonder why recruiting is a challenge, naively thinking they have no role in a recruit’s perception of the school. Not saying the chronic complainers are in any way responsible for the disappointing season. But they are not helping to make the two-year rebuilding process any easier either.

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Fool’s Gold vs. Setback U: Take Your Pick

By Steve Springer

“Biggest win of the Kragthorpe era,” “The ship has been righted,” “Congrats Coach K and the Cards,” and so forth. These were some of the proclamations after a win over South Florida. The next game’s results are greeted by “Coach K must go,” and “What will you do to show your disgust at the Cincinnati game?”


The roller coaster ride that is Steve Kragthorpe Cardinal football flew off the tracks again Saturday. The Syracuse loss was obviously the worse loss since, well, the other Syracuse loss. Gulp. I never would have dreamed of typing “the other Syracuse loss.” Sorry. Seriously, though, this had to be the biggest disappointment since the loss to UConn. The other UConn loss, you know. I didn’t think that the season opening loss to Kentucky could be topped. You guessed it, the other UK loss.


Sorry to sound somewhat confusing, but these “other” losses are really starting to pile up and become overwhelming. Kragthorpe’s Cardinals are now a Cooperesque 0-6 against the Orange, Huskies, and Wildcats. I’ll admit it. I had naively started to believe after the upset of the Bulls a couple of weeks ago.


Now I realize that I have the same feeling in my gut that I did as a child on summer vacation. My parents took me out west for our annual family vacation in which we headed out west to Yellowstone and stopped in one of those tourist trap old-timey western towns with faux saloons and general stores. We shopped at one of the local flavor cowboy stores and in one of the bins at eye level with my small eyes, I reached in and pulled out a handful of golden nuggets.

I just knew that I was the family savior and had just found the secret stash to make our family richer than our wildest dreams. My excitement was tempered when I learned the meaning of the words “iron pyrite.” The man behind the counter might have been named Greg Robinson. He exposed my treasure for what it was, just as he exposed our newfound Cardinal booty for what it was.

Same old fundamental mistakes. Same old overly abundant penalty yardage. Same old defensive lapses. Same old come-from-behind to catch the rear-end-of-college-football. These losses have stolen any hope that UofL Football has any hope of ever returning to even, (another gulp) mediocrity.

Athletic Director Tom Jurich is The Man. Some fans also believe he is  the man that is going to let this coach run this huge revenue sport out of The Ville back to Cooperville or beyond. Unacceptable losses are setbacks to a school that rose from the shadows of a minor league baseball stadium to having its toothed beak in the nest of big time college football elite status. They affect success, which affects fan support, which affects attendance, which affects stadium expansion credibility, which affects recruiting, which affects lack of success and any potential for future success.


Setback U, Fool’s Gold. Whatever you wanna call it, the boosters, the fans, the players, the potential future players want to be able to call it their football team, not a time-killer until basketball season.