Louisville football always a good excuse for a party

Forgive me for being ecstatic but another September has arrived. Another academic year at the University of Louisville, nine months of athletic competition … college football, basketball, baseball and soccer, et al. Making up for lost times over another long summer.

Kicking things off with a reunion of fellow UofL fans at Cardinal Stadium. The partying season on again, tens of thousands of fans converging in the parking lots, in the VIP suites and at the Cardinal Cabooses. Tailgating is back. Good friends, enjoying great food and beverages, many catching up with each other for the first time since the end of last season.

Vince Tyra hooks up with tailgaters at Harry’s Hangout in the former Green Lot. From left are Michelle Mitchell, Barbara Springer, Paula Derringer, Ginny Staley and Candy Cook.

Over at Harry’s Hangout in the newly-named Purple Lot (formerly the Green Lot), David Derringer and friends are erecting the canopies, lighting the grill, turning up the speakers, and preparing for another major feast and endless toasts and poppers. They’ve been getting together for more than a decade now, doing what they enjoy the most. Hell, it’s UofL and it’s UofL football, the place to be.

Louisville fans like to party, nobody has ever questioned that. But they are especially enthusiastic about celebrating at UofL events. It’s UofL against the world, as far as they are concerned, having gone through so much hell together the last three or four years. But it’s so much more than that, knowing how far the University has come over the decades despite many obstacles.

Progress has been driven by a number of UofL leaders over the years. Not the least of which was Howard Schnellenberger who dared dream of a national title in football. Former athletic director Bill Olsen introduced the notion of tailgating at the Fairgrounds, hired Schnellenberger, and built a football stadium on Belknap Campus Olsen’s successor, Tom Jurich, adding many more facilities, getting the University of Louisville in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Thanks to Jurich’s efforts, the University of Louisville opens the 2019 season with a bigger than life opening game against Notre Dame. A concept that would have been considered inconceivable a decade ago. UofL standing shoulder to shoulder with one of the richest traditions in college football. No matter the game turns out, it is an historic occasion for UofL fans.

Vince Tyra taking a business and fan-friendly approach, bringing ambitions of his own for UofL athletics, starting with the return-to-red seats. He has hired a young new coach in Scott Satterfield, trusting he will return Louisville football to national respect all over again.

Nobody from UofL is expecting a win against the Irish although many fans may be quietly hoping for some sort of miracle. It is a time for celebration because the hopes of Louisville partisans have been realized. They dared dream of days like these, like they did for their own stadium and wins in the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl. They dared to dream and, unbelievably in some cases, many of the dreams came true. Don’t tell a UofL fan something can’t happen because it does, more often than not.

Still a way to go for Louisville football. Well, actually some lost ground to make up after last season, but UofL fans are a hardy lot. Nothing has ever come easy for them. Much of the fun is in the journey, and it could be argued that the program is starting all over again.

That’s okay. UofL fans have been there, done that, and they’re ready to do it all over again. No matter how long it takes.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

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