Whoa, what’s going on here?

Still more players suspended?

What should we make of this? Willie Williams booted off the team last week for driving without a license but with marijuana. Jajuan Spillman for a similar incident in January that just landed in court last week. Now George Stripling for a violation of team rules? Three players were booted off the team during the off season.

Obviously, Steve Kragthorpe is making a point, that he will not tolerate activities that will reflect badly on the team. The question is why Bobby Petrino did not have similar problems, at least on the surface.

Could it be that the problems existed under Petrino but he had a different way of handling them? He wasn’t a nice guy, in fact many of the players despised him. He kept them around because he needed them?

We may never know for sure about Petrino’s style. But we do know that Kragthorpe will not tolerate questionable activities. Reminds me of a new executive arriving on the scene. He establishes his own rules, cleans house if necessary and sets new standards.

Or could it be that the coach is considered naive, such a nice guy that players think they can get away with things?

You still have to respect a coach who, despite controversy over his team’s performance, insists on players abiding by the rules. He is in charge, no doubt about that. No more Mr. Nice Guy.

The High Road

Before Saturday’s win over NC State, I can’t remember such negative vibes around a U of L program, including basketball. That covers more years than I care to admit as a fan. I’ve seen athletic directors come and go, but Tom Jurich is an exceptional individual.

With his keen insight into coaching personalities and his vision for the university, Tom Jurich is one of the best things that ever happened for U of L. We are fortunate to have him, especially with the way U of L started this year. Commenting on Coach Steve Kragthorpe, Tom told the Louisville Sports Report last week:

“Steve is a very solid guy … His background and credentials were impeccable, and that is why I hired him. He has what it takes to be our head coach, and he turned down many jobs to come here. This was a tough spot to come into because the expectations were so high. He accepted the challenge, and he’ll fight through it. He is going to be our long-term coach, and he is going to do a great job here. We’ll get through this … He’s a phenomenal recruiter, he’s proven that already. Everybody is involved. I’ve always said that you find out who your friends during times of adversity.”

Tom added a few words about his own situation:

“We’ve got to get through some tough times right now, and we’re going to fight through it. I’m committed to this place and making it work, and this is something that’s important to the school, the city and the Big East.”

Thanks Tom. You are the right man in the right place.

Enough Already

So much groaning and moaning on the U of L message boards that it’s obvious some people can’t recover from the season’s poor start. They want to take it out on anybody who expresses hope that the season can be rescued. Some on Inside The Ville (ITV) have made at least two dozen posts, either calling for Kragthorpe’s immediate departure (which isn’t going to happen) or demeaning other posters who want to give him more time.

You would think they had made their point by now. But there are some of them who think they must have the last word. It’s too bad you can just shut them up. But these are these are part and parcel of the Internet age. They have nine lives or nine monikers. To make them go away, you have to learn to steer clear of them. Thank goodness for the “Ignore” option on ITV.

WILLIE II GONE: The loss of Willie Williams, after being arrested on marijuana charges, is an indicator that the down cycle may finally have hit bottom. Let’s hope so anyway.

Action Day

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the days when problems are supposed to get worked out. So about now the team will be in full gear. If I were coach for a day, my priorities would be to:

— Develop a pass rush to get pressure on the quarterback.
— Double-pump drills so the safeties get used to them.
— Ensure that safeties put themselves between the receivers and the goal line.
— Have coaches get in players faces on defense.
— Have coaches get in Urrutia’s face after lack of effort.
— Get Brian Brohm to call audibles — he’s the Peyton Manning of college football.

And finally, Kragthorpe need to refrain from using a single cliche during the entire practice sesssion.

First Down

U of L football is at a new beginning as we enter the fourth game of the season against Syracuse. The Cards have a 2-1 record, but have failed to live up to expectations. Most of us failed to appreciate what the loss of Coach Bobby Petrino and some exceptional players on defense (including three now in the NFL) would affect the defensive side of things. That, added to a new coaching staff, has created some confusion during the early going.

We should have known but were afraid to admit to ourselves that a coaching transition is not always smooth. Instead, we listened to our fellow fans on the Internet message boards and believed the pre-season polls that had U of L listed among the top 10 teams this year.

The first inkling that we weren’t possibly going to roll over people came in the opener against Murray State when a team that was 1-10 last year marched the ball 80 yard down the field for an early touchdown. The next week was much worst against Middle Tennessee State when they moved the ball almost at will against the Cards before we finally prevailed 58-42.

Then came the disaster against Kentucky with a player wide open on the final play to nail us with a 40-34 loss. We melted time and time again against a Kentucky offense, often lining up wrong and drawing penalties at the worst possible times.

But that’s history. Hopefully we begin the climb again tomorrow against a Syracuse team that is 0-3. I fear, however, that our struggles on defense may continue.