Getting Personal: Pop Pulls Out Another One

The Observer steps aside briefly to allow the favorite son to pass along a few flashbacks of growing up in the family of a couple of University of Louisville diehards.

By Steve Springer

After sitting through one of the more hand-wringing encounters that I have witnessed as a University of Louisville fan, I knew that another of my great sports fantasies had come true. After a thrilling victory over No. 13 Notre Dame, I realized that the next UofL game I would attend would be against the No. 1 team in the land, the Pitt Panthers on the upcoming Saturday.

The chance to beat No. 1 does not come along very often. Combine this rare opportunity with the fact that one does not always get to attend such a spectacle with the engineer of one’s love. The win over top-ranked Pittsburgh will rank right up there with the best of many big moments as a Card fan. The Observer instilled a deep passion for Cardinal Nation in my soul and fueled it with ticket after ticket to big games.

Steve, Koby, Rick Pitino and the Observer
Steve, Koby, Rick Pitino and the Observer

I have attended Cardinal basketball and football games since before I could walk. The memories run together in a collage of college athletics. The clearest early memories that stand out are sitting so high in the Superdome to watch the Cards battle Patrick Ewing in the 1982 Final Four. The setting was so huge to my 6-year-old eyes that I preferred to watch the action on the big screen scoreboard instead of the tiny little players running around so far below. My first and only experience with the Big Easy and my beginning infatuation with shrimp and seafood tagged along for good measure.

Visions of hugging red-clad people I had never met when I was nine in Reunion Arena shortly after Jeff Hall intercepted a Duke pass at the end of the 1986 National Championship in Dallas stand out, as well.

A few days before my parents had upgraded their hero-status in my eyes as I secretly intercepted a phone call from the Observer’s wife and my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Osterman. Mom was campaigning for permission to allow me to accompany them to Dallas for championship weekend and I would have to miss a couple of days of school. Mrs. Osterman obliged; I guess the real life experience I was to receive would be worth way more than multiplication tables and spelling words.

Continued Continue reading “Getting Personal: Pop Pulls Out Another One”

Tony Alford, Traveling Man

Moving from school to school is not uncommon for assistant football coaches. Shouldn’t be too much of  a shock that Tony Alford would leave the University of Louisville to accept a similar position at Notre Dame.tonyalford

Maybe he figured that Steve Kragthorpe probably has only one year at UofL unless Kragthorpe does the unexpected next season. More than likely, Alford just couldn’t resist an offer from Notre Dame, a school he described as “the epitome of college football.”

Whatever. His stint may be brief. It’s no secret that the Notre Dame faithful have their doubts about the future of Charlie Weis, the head coach. A 29-21 won-lost record after four seasons doesn’t please Irish fans, clinging now to their aging tradition for at least a decade.

For some reason, the many failed third-and-one and fourth-and-one-yard frustrations from last season come to mind.

John L Smith To Arkansas

A farm team providing football coaches to the Arkansas Razorbacks? Could be worse, not much, but worse.

Let’s not go there.

First, it was Bobby Petrino taking a circuitous route from Louisville through Atlanta and down to Fayetteville. The funny thing about it is that Petrino is still there a year after doing the whoo-pig-sooey cheer at a news conference.

Now, if WHAS-TV is right, John L. Smith, another former UofL coach, is headed to swine country to serve as an assistant to his old assistant. Going to be part of the defensive coaching staff.

Coach Bobby Petrino is scheduled to meet with media at 1:30 p.m. Friday. The press conference was scheduled 24 hours before reports of a coaching hire began circulating.

Petrino and Smith do have a history. In fact, Petrino was an assistant at Louisville for Smith, who had a 132-86 record in 18 seasons as a head coach. Smith was also head coach at Utah State and had Petrino as part of his staff there.

John L. has been co-hosting a daily radio show with Drew Deiner on WKRD in Louisville for several months, bouncing back after being shown the door at Michigan State.

One can only hope John L minds his manners and stifles any negative thoughts on his way out of town this time around.

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Tapping Into Florida Football

Evidently the Florida recruiting pipeline hasn’t completely dried up, as some seem to have concluded. The University of Louisville has landed a commitment from defensive back Richard Lee, a player at powerful Lakeland Lake Gibson High School. That’s Richard “Champ” Lee, mind you, and he’s the fifth UofL recruit from Florida.

Lee is a cousin of Cardinal running back Bilal Powell, who probably encouraged him to choose Louisville over such schools as Purdue, West Virginia, South Florida, Ball State and Central Florida. He has a 4.5 speed for the 40.

Here’s what Florida Football says about Lee:

“This hard-hitting safety prospect is truly unique in the fact that he can play cornerback – if needed – and with his size and strength, it seems almost unfair to see him matched against receivers who are nowhere as physical and impressive as he is.

“Lee is one of those football players who use his knowledge, strength and athletic ability. He knows plenty about the game, has been taught and coached extremely well, and will certainly be one of those talents that in a few years from now, many will wonder how he ever got away from the bigger schools in Florida, who thirst of a big time playmaker with size and speed!”

Keep that Florida spigot turned on, and the outlook will improve, quickly.

Time To Reign In The Grousing

By Charlie Springer

Lots of people wanting to prolong the drama about the University of Louisville football coaching staff these days. Some seem to think that if they make enough noise Tom Jurich is going to change his mind about giving Steve Kragthorpe another year.

Yeah, like that’s really going happen. Reign it in a bit, folks, get behind the program. If it doesn’t work out, a new coach will arrive just in time for an expanded stadium.

People have always grumbled about losing. They just didn’t have Internet message boards to commiserate and commiserate, rehash and rehash the same old arguments, over and over and over again. The negativism is bound to wear thin sooner or later, leaving only the most  obnoxious to communicate, each attempting to be more nastier than the next.

Everybody else willl move on.

Unfortunately that’s down the road a bit. The sad thing about it is that all the bitching is bound to have a negative impact on recruiting.

This observer wants Kragthorpe to be successful. Not expecting any major turn around next season, but anticipating some signs of progress. If it’s not to be, one will look forward to supporting the next coaching regime.

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Found this bit on sanity on Brian Bennett’s Big East blog:

Kevin Fritz from Louisville writes: With Latarrius Thomas and Matt Simms leaving Louisville, plus the growing turnover of coaches exiting and possibly being demoted, isn’t it obvious that Steve Kragthorpe has lost control of this program and needs to gracefully exit now? That way a new coach can be brought in and salvage what could be one of the school’s worst recruiting classes in recent memory.

Brian Bennett: That would be a wild overreaction. Nobody likes to lose players, but Matt Simms probably wasn’t going to start anyway, and Thomas has been plagued by injuries. The program will survive their defections.

And a little more on Tom Heiser’s Courier-Journal fan blog:

Simms’ big shot to make a name for himself next year, or even insinuate himself into a quarterback controversy this past season, went about as smoothly as his Tin Man delivery … With the addition of N.C. State transfer Justin Burke (the presumed heir apparant), JUCO standout Adam Froman, plus holdovers Tyler Wolfe and Zach Stoudt, the Cards are already employing the “kitchen sink” strategy at reviving the offense. One marginal, discipline-deficient signal caller off the roster is no great tragedy.

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