With all the misleading statements and contradictions over the past two years, it has taken a few days for the full impact to sink in for some of us.
The worst part about Tom Jurich’s revelation about conference realignment last week is that the half-baked speculation and postulating about the University of Louisville’s conference future will continue unabated, possibly for years.
“We can’t control our options. There’s no movement right now. Everything has settled. So we’ve just got to stand back and judge what are the best options for us if they do become available. And if they don’t, the Big East is a pretty damn good landing for us.”
Turns out that all the so-called insiders, the ones telling us not to worry, that inclusion in the Big 12 was imminent, were wishful thinkers just like the rest of us. Well-intentioned maybe, but not fully informed. That, of course, was never possible when the principles involved in expansion never knew themselves where all of this was headed, still don’t and won’t know for some time.
Jurich’s timing for the statement was interesting, coming at a time when interest in UofL athletics is at an all-time high. He could have continued to lead us on, allowing the boon in ticket and merchandise sales to continue, choosing instead to be honest, putting the speculation to rest.
He did everything possible to present a convincing case on Louisville’s inclusion. The unpredictable Big 12 leadership, which almost allowed the conference to disintegrate a year ago, has never been able to agree on much of anything. They chose inertia over action, missing out on an opportunity to add a great program.
The sooner we get over the disappointment, the better, the faster we can get on with whatever comes next, not expecting the Big 12 leadership to do us any favors. The conference is not a Utopia, with more than its share of internal conflict over the years, having lost four schools as a result.
The reality is that we are back where we started. With the current quality of coaches and athletes on campus, the upcoming year could be an exceptional one. Charlie Strong’s team will be very respectable, possibly competing in another BCS bowl. Barring injuries, Rick Pitino’s team will be among the contenders for another NCAA basketball title, a goal close to the heart of many a Louisville fan. Also expect UofL to continue to compete at the highest levels in baseball, soccer, women’s basketball and softball, volleyball, tennis and swimming as well.
U of L has come a long way in a relatively short period of time, thanks to the leadership of Jurich and Jim Ramsey. Enjoy the fruits of those efforts this year. Be really surprised if the Big 12 ever gets its act together.