Hey Vince, UofL Golf Course a great setting for Cardinal Caravans

Bring back the Cardinal Caravans.

The observer made it out to Simpsonville on Monday for the annual Press Box Classic at the University of Louisville Golf Club. A welcome respite from the dearth of UofL activities in which to become engaged over the past several weeks.

A reunion of sorts for many of the sportswriters, the bloggers, the broadcasters, the personalities gathering once again for a fun event. The decibel meter reaching peak levels, with the media types and occasional golfers enjoying the free golf, the pulled pork sandwiches, the door prizes and familiar faces.

Kenny Klein is there, of course, overseeing the 21st annual event, along with Athletic Director Vince Tyra, Baseball Coach Dan McDonnell and Volleyball Coach Dani Keely, and Women’s Athletic Director Christine Herring.

“We’re just here to have fun, have a good time and enjoy each other,” he says. “One of my favorite events every year, getting to know people we work with on a more casual basis in a great setting.”

And what a great setting it is.

The UofL Golf Club has undergone significant changes since being purchased by the University five years ago, investing more than $11 million into the golf program’s home course. Changes include numerous new water hazards, new tee sites and longer holes, and continued modernization of the clubhouse and dining facilities.

One thing that has been missing on the UofL calendar the last three years has been the Cardinal Caravan. These were great events, enabling fans, coaches, players, cheerleaders, Ladybirds and pep band members to mingle in an informal atmosphere.

The need for such an event is even greater considering all the changes that have occurred over the last three years on campus. Fans deserve opportunities to get to know UofL people better, the people they have remained faithful and supportive of during some very challenging times.

Having the event at the Simpsonsville venue would be a great way to show off one of the University’s most desirable facilities, a great promotion for the club, probably resulting in some new memberships and strengthening relationships between UofL and its many fans.

Bring back the Cardinal Caravans, Vince. There’s no better setting than the UofL Golf Club.

Mallory’s already a senior, 3-time ACC Swimmer of the Year

Mallory Comerford is setting the standard for University of Louisville swimming and diving these days (UofL photo).

Let’s hear it for Mallory Comerford and the University of Louisville swimming and diving team. Smashing record after record.

Comerford, a senior, recently won her third consecutive ACC Women’s Swimmer of the Year honors after winning two titles at the NCAA Championships and three ACC Championships gold medals.

She is, in fact, the first women’s swimmer in ACC history to receive the distinction three times during her career.

Comerford won her third straight championship in the 200 freestyle, becoming the only Cardinal in history to win three titles in the same event. A day earlier, she captured her first 100 freestyle victory for a total of four career NCAA titles, matching Olympian Kelsi Worrell Dahlia with the most NCAA championships in program history.

By winning both the 100 and 200 freestyle, Comerford also became the first woman to accomplish the feat since Olympian Kara Lynn Joyce won both events at the 2006 NCAA Championships. The last person to secure victories in both freestyle distances was Louisville’s own Joao de Lucca at the 2014 Men’s NCAA Championships.

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Arthur Albiero has UofL men and women teams in the top five in NCAA competition (UofL photo).

Arthur Albiero, meanwhile, earned his second straight ACC Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Cardinals to their first team trophy with a fourth place finish at the NCAA Championships, the highest finish in program history. 
The Cardinals’ 235 points at NCAA was also the highest total in school history, surpassing the 232 points from last year’s fifth place finish. In total, the Cards broke four program records, added five individual All-Americans in a combined eight events and had all-five relays earn All-American honors for the second straight year.


Big 4 Bridge lighting competition offends hometown UofL fans

A fundraising event in Louisville is designed to fail, destined to thud like a lead balloon with University of Louisville fans.

Some people with too much time on their hands at the Waterfront Park decided to pit the UofL against the University of Kentucky in a bridge-lighting competition in UofL’s home town.

A bull-in-a-china-shop kind of terrible idea, a concept sure to offend every UofL fan in the city — the potential of lighting a major attraction in honor of a hated rival on a major local landmark. Some PR novice obviously at work, embarrassing UofL fans with the very idea.

The winning side having its colors light up the Big 4 Bridge before the rivalry basketball game on Wednesday. An in-your-face kind of slight which will ensure that the losers have negative vibes for the local attraction.

No doubt David Karem, the president of the Waterfront Development Corporation and a UofL Law School grad, was out of the office, out of town, or out of his mind when the concept was approved. We’re pretty sure the majority of funds for the waterfront park have come from Louisvillians and local companies. 

This is one observer who would not even consider making a contribution to the project.  And we doubt that more than a handful of other UofL fans will get involved in the project. As of 10 a.m. on Friday, UK fans had donated $434 as opposed to $134 for UofL fans.

Not surprising that Louisville fans are not getting involved. They shouldn’t have to even consider it. Few UofL fans will support it.

This is one event that the Kentucky Sports Radio web site is sure to get behind because it provides UK fans with an opportunity to insult UofL fans in their own hometown. They will give big. 

That we can understand. What’s impossible to comprehend, however, is why the Waterfront Development Corporation would prostitute itself raising funds at the risk of embarrassing the primary base of support for the Big 4 Bridge. 

Jurich still prefers an on-campus basketball arena for Louisville basketball

Would anyone be surprised if Tom Jurich has not already commissioned artistic renderings of a new basketball arena for Belknap Campus in case the University of Louisville agreement with KFC Yum! Center were to fall through.

The rendering would be of a first class, state-of-the-art arena, of course, with all the “wow factors” that Jurich insists on when considering any new facility. My guess is that the new campus arena includes approximately 19,200 seats and will fit comfortably on the 13.5-acre site previously occupied by the silos.

UofL already owns the land and an arena at that location would be much easier and affordable to construct than downtown. Plenty of room on the site, too, for a hotel and conference center, including all the parking spaces needed for all the new facilities. 

The site would be convenient for the men’s and women’s basketball teams, just minutes from the practice facilities and the dormitories. Great for the volleyball team, too, as well as for other indoor sports.

 Jurich is not in any rush to abandon the KFC Yum! Center where UofL men’s and women’s teams have competed since 2010. But he is tired of hearing some city officials blaming UofL for financial problems with the the arena.

He addressed the issue recently during a meeting of the Central Cardinal Club at the PNC Club at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

“We have exceeded by many, many steps everything the city has asked of us,” said Jurich. “We brought more events in there, we raised our prices, we’ve given them much more revenue than they could have dreamed, and we’re still the bad guys.”

The likelihood of UofL building an on-campus arena is probably pretty remote, unless the city were to somehow manage to attract an NBA franchise to the city. Some people have been talking about it for 40 years, with no NBA owners or general managers ever expressing serious interest in the city.

Jurich proved a decade ago that he was a “team player” by going along with the downtown arena, despite badly wanting the arena on campus in the first place. He went ahead despite his reservations and better judgement but was able to negotiate excellent terms for UofL. 

No one should doubt Tom Jurich will do everything he can to make the current arrangement with the KFC Yum! Center a long-term success. But they also should not doubt that Jurich firmly believes the best possible place for a basketball arena is on the University of Louisville campus.

Crawford Gym a fading memory, giving way to academic facility

Bill Olson, former Athletic Director and Assistant Coach, reunites with Denny Crum.
Bill Olson, former Athletic Director and Assistant Coach, reunites with Denny Crum.

Large segments of the floor have already been removed, a sign near the entrance encourages fans to go an online auction, and Crawford Gym is host to a going-away party.

Crawford AuctionDarrell Griffith is there, along with dozens of former University of Louisville basketball players. Among them Philip Bond, Jerry Eaves, Wiley Brown, Roger Burkman, Mike Grosso, Robbie Valentine, just to name a few. Manuel Forrest is there, too, cutting snippets of the nets down for teammates and fans.

Denny Crum, Bill Olson and Jerry Jones, among the former coaches on hand, Denny autographing small segments of the floor to raise money for the UofL scholarship fund in his name, sharing memories of the old days on the Jerry Eaves radio show.

Felton Spencer shares memories of his days in Crawford Gym.
Felton Spencer shares memories of his days in Crawford Gym.

Crum admitting at one point that he thought he might have made a mistake after seeing Crawford Gym for the first time. “What we lacked in facilities, however, we made up for in enthusiasm and a love for basketball,” he said. “The kids didn’t care if the gym was outdated or stinking hot, they just wanted to play basketball.”

Crawford Gym, which was constructed in 1964, became a reality after a gift of $467,000 was made from the estate of Matthew Crawford by his sister Kate Crawford and Jennie Hanks, with additional money from the city.

The facility included two regulation-size maple basketball courts, which were also used for volleyball, gymnastics and intramurals. It was lighted by 64 mercury-vapor lights. The roof was the first elliptical paraboloid in the midwest, a type of roof eliminating supporting posts. There was never any air conditioning.

Crawford Gym will be coming down later this month, making way for a much-needed multi-million-dollar instructional facility.